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Author Topic: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years  (Read 428 times)

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Offline livelaughlove

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scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« on: March 26, 2014, 05:41:57 AM »
I have been on zoloft 50 mg once per day for a little over 10 years now. I want, I NEED, to get off it. I am really scared to do that. When i first started taking zoloft years ago (I was 21 and a young single mom, it was prescribed to me for anxiety/stress) I had no side effects and felt great. Continued feeling great. Zoloft helped me all those years to feel even balanced. Only side effect was zero libido. Flash forward.... to about a year and a half ago. Decide to stop taking it (now I am 35 and don't feel the need for it). Stupidly, I weaned myself off over a 2 week period (WAY TOOOOOO FAST). Well, then the withdrawal set up. Severe panic attacks, nausea, diarrhea, 20 lb weight loss, agoraphobia for some reason, flu-like symptoms. I felt dead to the world. So, I went through that for almost a month of pure hell, decided i couldn't take it anymore, figured i need to go back on zoloft and I would be on it for life. So i started taking it again. When i went back on it I had bad startup effects, but the dizzyness went away right away. That was around January 2013. Then weird stuff starts happening... such as I develop Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder (which usually only effects senior citizens but i have it for some reason so i am doing light therapy). I develop Benign Fasciculation Syndrome (which I have had about 12 months, all day long, nonstop, mostly in face, arms, back, hips). I had MRI normal of my brain and normal EMG. Negative Lymes. Normal bloodwork. Normal creatinine Kinase. Normal magnesium levels. Only thing off for past year is Bun and Creatinine and GFR (kidney functions). GFR has been 57-60 for 5 months now with high bun and creatinine. Multiple docs say I am just dehydrated but have no kidney damage. Normal urine. I drink like 64 oz fluid daily but was told to drink more like 82 oz daily. Anyway, I have been thinking I am suffering from a mild serotonin syndrome. I didn't say that to my doctor even though it was in the back of my head.... but my doc actually brought that up that since nothing has been found to cause the fasciculations she thinks they are being caused by the zoloft and that i should wean myself off slowly over a 2 month period. I have read about adverse reactions to zoloft and yes it does cause fasciculations. I am scared to stop zoloft because of my severe reaction last time i stopped it (but i did it too quickly). I feel like i permanetly damaged my brain from being on it for so long. I do want to attempt to wean down because the fasciculations drive me insane, sometimes it feels like the muscles in my cheeks are being pulled back towards my ears. Also, zoloft has been linked to microscopic colitis (I work in gastroenterology)... and linked to lymphocytic colitis of large intestine. Well, I have lymphocytic small bowel on biopsy... i wonder if this is from the zoloft. Also, I wonder if my decreasing kidney functions are from the zoloft as well. I do not feel anxious, stressed, or depressed so that is not an issue. The issue is I am scared to death of the withdrawal and I am scared of the "unknown" if I will ever be able to normal going off it after being on it for over a decade. I would love to hear past experiences especially from longterm users of zoloft. HELPPPPPPPP
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Offline insights

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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2014, 07:40:03 AM »
Anyway, I have been thinking I am suffering from a mild serotonin syndrome.

On 50mg/day when the maximum is 300mg/day and there are some taking 400mg/day? I don't think so. It is unlikely even if you took 1,000mg/day. Nor are the symptoms you've described consistent with it. Serotonin syndrome is much rarer than Dr Google would suggest with few doctors having seen a genuine case. When taken chronically SSRIs actual lower serotonin synthesis and expression.

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I feel like i permanetly damaged my brain from being on it for so long.

There is no evidence that antidepressants damage the brain. They do just the opposite, repair the damage caused by chronic stress hormone exposure. There is also some evidence that SSRIs may reduce the buildup of amyloid plaque associated with Alzheimer's disease (though tricyclics are better at slowing the rate of depression linked dementia once you have it). See also.

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The issue is I am scared to death of the withdrawal and I am scared of the "unknown" if I will ever be able to normal going off it after being on it for over a decade.

By your own admission, you made a bad call when you last came of Zoloft. If you do it right, and I suggest you drop the dose by only a quarter of a 25mg tablet every 2 weeks, which is very gradual and slow,  then you should find it much easier this time. You've only been on the usual minimum effective dose which has me wondering if it is in fact working or whether your symptoms are mostly the result of unrelieved stress coupled with health anxiety. Which brings me to the final point, how are you going to manage your anxiety once you're off the Zoloft? You really should put in place an alternative before quitting the med.

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 livelaughlove

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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2014, 05:52:30 PM »
Thanks for the input. Today I only took 25 mg. My biggest complaint are the Fasciculations. I didn't get them as bad today (normally it is all day long). Zoloft can cause Fasciculations so I hope by quitting they will go away. I plan on staying on 25 mg for like 2 months. Then I will go to every other day, every couple days... And so on and so forth. So we'll see how this goes!
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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2014, 06:54:16 PM »
I plan on staying on 25 mg for like 2 months.

There is no need to take that long. Blood plasma levels will stabilize within 7 days and there is no physiological advantage in delaying a dose reduction beyond this, though I suggest adding an extra week as a confidence building measure.

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Then I will go to every other day, every couple days... And so on and so forth. So we'll see how this goes!

Not the way to do it as it will likely set up a yo-yo effect. It is far better to take the med daily and cut back the dose.

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 livelaughlove

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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2014, 05:59:21 AM »
ok thanks let's see how this goes. So yesterday day 1 cut my 50 mg pill in half so i took 25 mg. Felt good yesterday. Did not have the fasciculations as bad. Actually had dreams last night. I was laughing in my sleep out loud a couple times. Had good dreams. I rarely dream (ever since being on zoloft I rarely dream or if i do dream it's those frustrating type dreams). My alarm went off at 5 and i was tired and actually wanted to sleep in but got up. Normally, I wake up before my alarm goes off and I am wide awake. This morning, I was right in the middle of a good dream and wanted to sleep. So that's good (I have been having this problem for about a year where i want to go to bed at 6:30-7 pm and wake wide awake at 3-4 am, i saw a sleep specialist, it is called advanced sleep phase disorder, i think it is from the zoloft). Only thing that was odd yesterday was my mouth was dry.
Today, day 2... I don't want to wean too quickly as a i had severe reaction last time. So I decided to instead scoring half, scoring 3/4. I only cut 1/4 of the tab off so I took about 35 mg of zoloft. I think i will do that next few weeks. I am feeling actually better and laughing at more things.
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Offline livelaughlove

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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2014, 08:31:01 PM »
So today is the end of day 2 weaning down off zoloft and I feel the best I have felt in over a year. I only had ONE fasciculation from when i woke up until lunchtime, then after i ate i had some for about an hour, then no more until after dinner. For the past year it has been nonstop all day long, so this is HUGE for me. I felt really good today and yesterday. I notice I am more social and laughing more and really interested in others, and I feel more calm socially the past 2 days then what i have felt for the past year with all my twitching. I was always a very social person, but not this past year. It was the zoloft. It is toxic. At least, it is toxic for me. So i am headed in the right direction. I feel really really good and I guess too because i slept very good last night, so i was fully rested... for the first time in a year. I feel like I am regaining my old self once again. I think I am going to keep on documenting on this thread my progress to give insight to others.
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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2014, 08:48:34 PM »
Most of the Zoloft is still in your system.

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 livelaughlove

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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 09:31:19 PM »
I know that. It is just amazing that cutting back is working. These medicines are too freely prescribed to people instead of suggesting coping mechanisms. People like me do not need these medications. If I was having a major spychiatric issue that could cause harm to myself or others, then yes, I would be all for the medicine. They cause more harm than good. And as I work in the medical field, I see this happen over and over and over again. And it just isn't with just anxiety medications, it is also with all other medications such as painkillers and acid reflux medication.
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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2014, 10:32:02 PM »
I know that. It is just amazing that cutting back is working.

You missed the point. The fact you feel so much better after only 2 days says clearly that it wasn't the drug causing your problems because most of it is still there.

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 livelaughlove

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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2014, 06:01:33 AM »
No I definitely hear you... I agree, very strange to be feeling better after only mild decrease in 2 days.... but I do feel better. I still think it has to be the zoloft and I think this because that is an adverse reaction listed on the warnings from the pharmacy. I have several symptoms that coincide with an adverse reaction, such as in the following: Hyperreflexia on exam, a diagnosed sleep disorder, fasciculations, and the small bowel lymphocytosis. Those things are not side effects; those are adverse reactions not good meaning get off the zoloft as it is causing major disruption i think to the normal function of the autonomic nervous system. The only side effect of the zoloft I have is zero libido and inability to cry or feel strong emotions... it keeps me very even. I have had so much testing over the past year and nothing has been found so it has to be the zoloft because nothing else explains it. If anyone else reads this and needs their minds put to rest, I kind of know what I am talking about, I work in the medical community, been there, done that, talked to many patients with similar experiences, and so I base a lot of my thinking on what I hear from patients and what meds they are on and let me tell you the happiest people are people that are not on a lot of medications. Now, it is agreeable sometimes you need a little pick me up... but come on people... these people on megadoses of multiple antidepressants is just not good. So here is testing I have had done and everything is ruled out so my bet is the zoloft is causing the fasciculations and sleep disorder:
1. Brain MRI - normal. Only abnormal thing is congenital defect of veins which is NO BIG DEAL and poses no harm to me. (Developmental venous anomaly left temporal lobe).
2. EMG- performed on right side - normal. EMG only needs to be done on one side to show any pathological abnormalities.
3. On neurological exam - have hyperreflexia, which means exaggerated response to stuff like when they tap your knee and you kick your leg out, which is a normal response. Hyperreflexia can be found as adverse reaction to zoloft and other SSRIs.
4. Stool studies - negative. One time i had white blood cells in my stool, but only 1+ or 25%. WBCs are found when you have inflammation which can be from inflammatory bowel disease or infection. No infection in my case and no IBD. Although, 3 months later, I had stool study done which was positive norovirus and equivocal salmonella, so it is possible i had salmonella. Equivocal means the lab cannot tell if yes or no. I was experiencing bad diarrhea.... so i prob had it. Incidentally i did stool sample day before becoming super sick with norovirus, and by that, in a 24 hour period, i threw up 15 times and had watery diarrhea 17 times. I have not had any bowel issues since. Oh, and you don't need antibiotic for salmonella. THe body will naturally clear it in about 6 weeks. You can take an antibiotic for it, too though. Then, usually people experience post-infectious irritable bowel as the flora in the lumen repairs itself back to normal homeostatic levels.
5. EGD (upper endoscopy) - Normal esophagus. Normal stomach, mild gastritis. I see thousands of pathologies every year and everyone has mild gastritis, no big deal. Negative H pylori. Dudoenum- 1st and 2nd portion examined and entire length duodenum granular in appearance. THat means there is inflammation and endoscopically something is causing change in appearance so that is what it looks like. Biopsy comes back duodenal intraepithelial lymphocytosis and crypt hyperplasia, which can be indicative of celiac or systemic autoimmune disease, NSAID use. I do not use NSAIDS. I had celiac panel done then and I am not a carrier of DQ2 or 8 gene therefore there is like 1% chance i could have celiac disease. But since tissue transglutaminase levels are normal highly unlikely. Now, lymphocytosis i had is of small bowel, but microscopic colitis as in lymphocytic colitis of large intestine which is different, that is the colon, that has been seen to be side effect related to zoloft... So I wonder if zoloft effected my small intestine in that way. By the way duodenal IELS can also mean Crohn's Disease. So then i had colonoscopy with random biopsies and all normal, so no Crohn's or colitis of any kind at all. Duodenal IELs can also be indicative of small bowel bacterial overgrowth. So i had lactulose breath test done which came back suggestive of SIBO due to double peak hydrogen counts... I took xifaxin for 10 days.. didn't notice any difference. So never got a specific answer nor will i ever on that one. That is the mystery of the duodenal IELS lol.

I will have to type more when i get a chance if anyone is following my story
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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2014, 07:42:52 AM »
I still think it has to be the zoloft and I think this because that is an adverse reaction listed on the warnings from the pharmacy.

You've been taking it for 10 years! If you were having adverse reactions to it they would have started soon after you began taking it, not a decade later. IMHO, your only problem with Zoloft is that you're not taking enough of it.

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 livelaughlove

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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2014, 12:06:19 PM »
Nope. Disagree. Day 3 and I feel really good. Why are you so hell bent on saying medicine is always a good thing. Meds are not always needed and what works for one may not work for another. So best bet is through trial and error. Science is just not advanced enough to definitively understand how chemicals in the brain work. There is no yes or no simple answer. But if I feel better then I don't need the zoloft. Point blank.
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Offline livelaughlove

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Re: scared to quit zoloft 50 mg after being on it 10 years
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2014, 07:18:48 PM »
End of day 3 and I feel awesome. Just came back from a nice long power walk. I feel happier. Really happy, actually. Only side effect I have had past 3 days is a dry mouth. Twitching is less, too. I am having more creative ideas and thinking more clearly, too.
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