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Author Topic: My Journey: Zoloft  (Read 316 times)

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Offline redpa18t

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My Journey: Zoloft
« on: March 05, 2014, 10:35:36 AM »
I am a 34 year old male. Married for 14 years. Three children (13, 12 & 5) and two dogs.

In May of 2011 I had my first panic attack. I had no idea what was going on, why I was hyperventilating and freaking out. Lightheaded, tired, short of breath... The whole nine yards. My wife, who suffers from anxiety herself, immediately knew what was happening and shed some light on what I was experiencing. I started to visit a therapist about what was going on, and it was determined that an upcoming trip to Key West was the apparent trigger for the attack. The trip came and went, and eventually (without medication) so did the anxiety. Life pretty much returned to normal for the next two years or so.

On October 25, 2013 my wife and I were eating lunch at Subway together when I was struck by another panic attack. The anxiety has remained around me ever since, and it seemed like I wouldn't be able to conquer it like I did the previous time. This fight has been much worse, and much more debilitating than the first one. Finally it reached the point where both my wife and my therapist realized that it was time to start some medication.

January 17, 2014 (my wife's birthday) I met with the doctors and was prescribed 50mg of Zoloft daily. Despite my internal resistance to taking medicine I immediately had the prescription filled and took my first pill around 5:00pm that evening. Just knowing that I was taking medication to help relieve the worry was enough to give me a sense of calm for the next few days. However, on January 20th (my eldest son's birthday) I had a melt down on the way to his celebration (13). I managed to pull it together enough and make it through the party, but I was left with a sense of despair and regret for not being fully "in the moment" for his day.

Since I'm writing this more for those who are trying to read about other's experiences upon starting medications, I'll be honest. The first week was pretty rough. We had a snow storm hit on the night of my son's birthday and we were snowed in for two days. I did pretty much nothing those two days but lay on the couch and rest as much as I could. As far as side effects go, the worst two for me were nausea and sleepiness. By Thursday I felt as though I was ready to return to work as the kids were headed back to school. I made it to work for about 2 hours before my youngest son's (5) school called to tell us that he was sick and needed to be picked up. I left work, picked him up and was happily headed home to my couch where I spent the next two days.

I won't chronicle every day in between, although I probably could, but the next week I managed to make it to work every day although there were a few where I headed home early to the couch for a nap. The nausea was gone by this point, however the sleepiness remained. The next week was better yet as I began to feel the effects of the Zoloft helping more and more. Anxiety has made me take notice to a lot of patterns in my life. One thing I began to notice was that my mornings were ROUGH! I woke up anxious and jittery everyday. And then at some point around 2-4pm everything would become crystal clear and I felt "normal" again. This pattern continued through the first 5 weeks of medication although once I realized that no matter how rough my morning was I would get relief every evening, it eased my mind enough to get through the rough patches in the morning. It felt as though it took most of the day for the medicine to "kick in" and take effect.

At my 5 week check up with the doctor (Feb. 24) we discussed upping the dosage to compensate for the lag in effect. First the doctor wanted me to try to take the medicine before bed instead of first thing in the morning to see if it would be effective when I woke up. So that night I took a dose before bed and skipped my dose the next morning. I had a horrible day. I still woke up anxious, and it continued all day, without relief in the evening. Part of this was probably due to my own mind wondering and waiting for the medicine to kick in. "What am I going to do if it doesn't work? I'm going to have to spend all day feeling anxious with no relief." This song kept playing in my head over and over. And sure enough I did spend all day feeling anxious. That evening I took another pill before bed although I wasn't feeling much faith that I would awaken without anxiety. I was right. I woke up the next day feeling every bit as anxious as I had the day before. As I left for work I grabbed another 50mg pill and took it with me to the office just in case. By 11:00am I had enough. I took the pill and hoped that by the evening I would be feeling it's effects. Sure enough by the time my work day was done I was feeling pretty good.

On Monday (March 3) I called the doctor and got the "OK" to up my dosage from 50mg to 100mg. She advised me that I could take the dosage however I felt comfortable. So, for the last two days I have been taking 50mg in the morning and another 50mg at night. Yesterday morning (my first morning after taking the additional dosage) was marginally better than before. Still woke up anxious, though not as bad as the previous mornings. This morning has been even better yet. Still some jitters and moments, but I realize that it will still take some time for the additional dosage to work it's way into my system and reach it's maximum effectiveness.

Advice:
1. Time. If you are just starting, understand the workings of the medicine. It will take some time. But you can and will make it through to see it's benefits.
2. Distractions. I have three children, the youngest of which is 5 years old. He has been such a sense of calm and peace through my journey. He's a ball of energy and fun and I have spent many hours with him getting lost in his world of childhood which have provided me with countless hours of rest from anxiety. The added benefit is that we have become really close through the whole ordeal.
3. Understanding. Take some time to read through the posts on this forum. Learn about anxiety and how it works. Talk to those who have and still suffer from panic. The more you understand how it works, why it happens and how to deal with it the better you become at identifying it and moving beyond it. Realize that you are NOT alone in your feelings or symptoms.
4. Acceptance. Accept that you have anxiety. Accept that it IS REAL. Accept that it exists in you. Accept that it does not have to define you. Accept that you will conquer it.
5. Allowance. Realize that not every moment of ever day will feel "normal" right now. You must allow yourself to have moments throughout the day where you struggle to win. It's OKAY! It's completely normal to feel anxious. It's completely normal to feel stress. You need to allow yourself to feel this way because the more you try to fight it off, the more you go around and around in your head trying to figure out "What's wrong with me?"
6. Relaxation. For me it is the couch by the fireplace, or the whirlpool bath. Those are my "Happy Places." My wife knows that if she finds me in either of those two spots that I am just taking a few minutes to relax and unwind. The more I did that, the better I began to feel. In my moments of struggle throughout the day I could lay my head back, close my eyes and I was instantly on the couch with the fire going relaxing. This can get you through some rough spots during the day.

Questions:
1. Has anyone dealt with the anxious mornings? If so, what helped you get past this?
2. Before Zoloft, I could sleep in on weekends with no problem. Now once I'm awakened, I'm up for the day (barring a nap). Common?
3. I noticed that every now and then I get a sweat that will come over me. I noticed it when I started taking the medicine, and now that I've upped the dosage I noticed it again. I am assuming that it is just the medicine working. Anyone else noticed this?
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Offline insights

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Re: My Journey: Zoloft
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2014, 04:09:04 PM »
I met with the doctors and was prescribed 50mg of Zoloft daily

Starting at 25mg, or maybe even 12.5mg, for 7-10 days would have been kinder. It is specifically why they make Zoloft in 25mg tablets.

Quote
So, for the last two days I have been taking 50mg in the morning and another 50mg at night. Yesterday morning (my first morning after taking the additional dosage) was marginally better than before. Still woke up anxious, though not as bad as the previous mornings.

Increasing antidepressant doses can make anxiety worse for a while, but will take weeks to begin have a positive effect. These meds don't have a direct affect, but work by boosting the growth of new brain cells which takes time.

Quote
Has anyone dealt with the anxious mornings? If so, what helped you get past this?

Some do better in the mornings, others later in the day. I guess it all depends on your biorhythms. It should resolve as the higher dose begins to have an effect in a few weeks, though you may still find your afternoons are a little better.

Quote
Before Zoloft, I could sleep in on weekends with no problem. Now once I'm awakened, I'm up for the day (barring a nap). Common?

Yes. The SSRIs tend to disturb sleep. Insomnia is quite common, so much so that many need to take sedating meds like trazodone to get their 40 winks.

Quote
I noticed that every now and then I get a sweat that will come over me. I noticed it when I started taking the medicine, and now that I've upped the dosage I noticed it again. I am assuming that it is just the medicine working.

Yes, all the serotonergic antidepressants may have this effect with Zoloft being more prone to causing it than many others. The skin makes and uses about as much serotonin as the brain, and serotonin also regulates blood vessel tone, constriction and dilation, especially in the fine arteries of the skin. Antidepressants can interfere with this causing sweating, clamminess, etc. They may also increase photosensitivity so you might need to be a little more cautious during summer and use sunscreen when out in the sun.

Ian

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NOTE: I'm not a doctor, and particularly not yours, so there may be factors I'm unaware of. Therefore all advice is of a general nature and you should consult your doctor before following any of it, especially before changing med doses.

Offline redpa18t

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Re: My Journey: Zoloft
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2014, 09:25:46 AM »
Just to update my progress a bit:

Week #1 on the increase of zoloft went extremely well (went from 50mg to 100mg daily). Felt clear headed, very little anxiety at all.
Week #2 didn't fare quite as well. Plenty of anxiety to speak of although my mind was clear enough to chalk it up to the increase in medicine and not let it stew to the point of caving in. That in and of itself was progress!
Week #3 has been much more like the first week. Still have that wired feeling in the mornings, but I've started a new morning routine which includes giving myself more time to prepare myself and the kids for the day. This has helped tremendously! Even though I still feel a bit wired, I am able to take my time getting ready for my day. I feel as though I can "ease" into the day instead of jumping right in. It has also decreased the amount of stress in the morning that came from rushing to get everyone/everything ready to go.

I'm still working out the "need" or habit to check my feelings or mood constantly. "How do I feel today?" or "Am I anxious, have I had a good day or  a bad day today?" Trying to teach myself to let it go and just enjoy the good moments and the bad ones.

I am also getting better at diagnosing my emotions. When I start to feel a little anxiety creeping in I am able to quickly ask myself what emotion I am feeling that is leading me towards anxiety. Am I nervous? Am I excited? Is my adrenaline pumping for some reason? Doing this has helped me to identify a lot of potential triggers for my stresses and then find the solutions.
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Offline insights

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Re: My Journey: Zoloft
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2014, 04:55:38 PM »
I'm still working out the "need" or habit to check my feelings or mood constantly. "How do I feel today?" or "Am I anxious, have I had a good day or  a bad day today?" Trying to teach myself to let it go and just enjoy the good moments and the bad ones.

I am also getting better at diagnosing my emotions. When I start to feel a little anxiety creeping in I am able to quickly ask myself what emotion I am feeling that is leading me towards anxiety. Am I nervous? Am I excited? Is my adrenaline pumping for some reason? Doing this has helped me to identify a lot of potential triggers for my stresses and then find the solutions.

Sounds like you're well on the way to recover.  :happy0151:

Ian
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NOTE: I'm not a doctor, and particularly not yours, so there may be factors I'm unaware of. Therefore all advice is of a general nature and you should consult your doctor before following any of it, especially before changing med doses.

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