If you or your family member have been prescribed sertraline and would like to know if there are any withdrawal reactions of the medication and what kind of effects you would experience during quitting, keep reading the article. 

What is Sertraline? 

Sertraline is a prescription medication used to treat panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sertraline acts by increasing the amount of serotonin (the happy hormone or chemical in the brain) in your body. Increased serotonin levels in the brain help maintain mental balance, improve mood, and improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Can you experience withdrawal issues when quitting sertraline?

Yes, many people who have been taking sertraline experience withdrawal reactions when they  stop the medication. Withdrawal is more likely if you stop the medication abruptly. Generally, gradually tapering off the dose of sertraline helps minimize withdrawal symptoms. 

The experience is different for everyone. Some people may experience mild symptoms. On the other hand, others experience severe symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. Although uncomfortable, sertraline withdrawal symptoms are not generally considered dangerous or harmful. 

Sertraline withdrawal by dosage and type

Sertraline has a short half-life which means medication is quickly removed from the body. When you stop taking sertraline, there is  very little medication left in the body and your brain must adapt to  having lower serotonin levels, which may cause withdrawal symptoms. Having withdrawal doesn’t mean you are addicted to sertraline. 

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The withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping or reducing the dose of sertraline include:

  • Dizziness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Ringing in the ear
  •  Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Mood changes
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Brain zaps
  • Feeling tired or sluggish
  • Anxiety
  •  Anger

Withdrawal symptoms of sertraline 100mg

Withdrawal symptoms are more likely to occur in patients who have been taking sertraline for more than 4 to 6 weeks, and who abruptly stop the medication or rapidly reduce their dose. 

The symptoms of withdrawal are similar regardless of sertraline dose. 

Withdrawal from sertraline 50mg

Withdrawal symptoms are most likely to occur in patients who have been taking sertraline for more than 4 to 6 weeks who abruptly stop the medication or rapidly reduce their dose. The symptoms are similar to those seen with sertraline 100mg. 

Sertraline HCl withdrawal

Sertraline is usually available in salt form, i.e., sertraline HCl. The withdrawal effects of the medication are similar to sertraline, as mentioned above.  

Sertraline for alcohol withdrawal

Sertraline is not typically used for treating symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, research demonstrates that sertraline can be used as a treatment to reduce alcohol drinking. Sertraline may help to reduce alcohol dependence if you have trouble limiting your drinking to healthy amounts.

How to stop sertraline withdrawal symptoms

To minimize withdrawal symptoms, avoid abruptly stopping your medication. If you feel you should stop taking sertraline, discuss this with your doctor first. Your doctor will gradually reduce the dose to prevent a withdrawal reaction. It is also possible that your doctor may switch you to a different medication to prevent withdrawal reactions.

The tapering of the medication will depend on many factors, such as the duration of your treatment, your dose, and how you respond to tapering. 

You can also prevent withdrawal symptoms by making sure you don’t run out of medication. Check with your pharmacy about setting up automatic refills so you don’t ever need to stop sertraline due to running out of medication. 

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Sertraline withdrawal – vertigo

Yes, you may experience vertigo when your dose of sertraline is abruptly reduced or stopped. It is one of the withdrawal symptoms of the medication. It may be seen in 8% of the people taking medicine.

Sertraline withdrawal – anger

Yes, you may experience anger when your dose of sertraline is abruptly reduced or stopped. This may be related to withdrawal or due to relapse of your depression or anxiety. However, not everyone goes through it. Only 7.7% of the patients get this symptom.

Sertraline withdrawal – night sweats

Yes, you may experience night sweats when your dose of sertraline is abruptly reduced or stopped. About 22% of the people coming off  sertraline may get night sweats.

Sertraline withdrawal – dizziness

Yes, you may experience dizziness when your dose of sertraline is abruptly reduced or stopped. It is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms of the medication. About 12% of the people coming off sertraline may get night sweats.

Sertraline withdrawal – heart palpitations

Yes, you may experience heart palpitations when your dose of sertraline is abruptly reduced or stopped. About 4% of the people coming off sertraline may get palpitation.

Sertraline withdrawal – itching

Yes, you may experience itching when your dose of sertraline is abruptly reduced or stopped. However,  sertraline withdrawal rarely causes itching. About 10% of the people coming off sertraline may experience itching.

Sertraline withdrawal – sweating

Yes, you may experience sweating  when your dose of sertraline is abruptly reduced or stopped. However, sertraline withdrawal rarely causes sweating. About 10% of the people coming off sertraline may experience sweating.

Sertraline withdrawal symptoms – brain zaps

Yes, you may experience brain zaps (sensations like electric shock or shiver in your brain) when your dose of sertraline is abruptly reduced or stopped. It is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms of the medication. 

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How to deal with sertraline withdrawal

There are different ways to deal with the withdrawal of the medication. The best way to reduce severe withdrawal reactions is not to stop taking the medication abruptly and gradually taper your dose.

During tapering of the dose, if you experience any withdrawal symptoms, you may need to wean off the medication more slowly. Also, the symptoms will decrease with time as your brain adapts to the new dose.

Other tips that can you can follow to reduce the withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Follow the plan as described by your physician
  • Work with your mental health professional
  • Consider starting psychotherapy
  • Get support from loved ones and friends
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthily
  • Sleep and rest adequately
  • Always stick to the schedule

Sertraline withdrawal symptoms: How long will they last?

Sertraline withdrawal symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks from your last dose. It varies from individual to individual. Some people taking sertraline may experience only mild effects or none at all. In contrast, others may experience severe symptoms that affect their daily activities.

Sometimes,  withdrawal symptoms could last up to 3 weeks after dose tapering is done. The symptoms may persist for up to 6 weeks in some people. In very rare cases, people may experience withdrawal symptoms for up to a year.

Sertraline withdrawal help

Always talk to your doctor and follow the instructions given by the healthcare professional to reduce withdrawal reactions.

Regularly follow up with your doctor and share your problems. Frequent follow-ups may be necessary during the initial transition. Every person is different, so your taper schedule may need to be adjusted based on how you respond.

Try to stay active as much as you can. Try to work out at least three times a week. Working out causes the release of endorphins, which helps you keep depression at bay when you taper or finally stop taking the medication. 

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