Jump to content

Dini84: Sertraline / Zoloft reinstatement and tapering

Recommended Posts


Hi everyone. I am hoping to get some much needed (and very much appreciated) advice on my situation.


As you see, I had been on Sertraline for almost 2 years, or around the two year mark, before I began a too fast taper in 2016 which lead to my withdrawal syndrome in September 2016. My doctor had me taper in 6 weeks completely off Sertraline, jumping off at 25mg and not even tapering the 25mg, just cold turkeying the 25 per his instruction. Well, I was feeling some withdrawal symptoms, I just didn't realize what they truly meant, and my doctor had told me not to worry 'they will clear up in a few weeks" well they didn't really clear up, but actually got worse two-three months later.


I want to make this as short as possible so it is easy to read, but long story short, I ended up reinstating Sertraline at 12.5mg first week, at the same time tapering the 30mg of buspirone my doctor had tried to test out on me for almost two weeks. Each week, he upped my dose of Sertraline during my reinstatement, until I reached 57mg and my body rejected anything above the 57mg. However, I did not know anything about withdrawal or tapering back then, and realize that I was put on way too high of a dose for reinstatement. This has me very scared and very anxious, I try hard not to be, and most of it is likely neuro related, but I wonder what I can do if I feel it's too high?


I've got the anhedonia, but I've had this since December, and it actually was brought on more or less by my doctor trying to put me back up to 75mg, maybe that was just a coincidence, but I am not so sure. Each adjustment of the sertraline left me with worsened insomnia, worsened panic, trembling and what I can only describe as body jolts every morning for four months straight. And trying to sleep at night I felt like I was having seizures almost, where my body would jolt me awake just as I was drifting off to sleep, heart would be racing, fear and panic would run rampant and worsen in the morning. I still have mild teeth chattering every morning and especially when the anxiety or stress comes on. I reinstated pretty quick, where I reinstated as soon as my withdrawal symptoms started getting worse, I didn't wait it out even though I really wanted to. I didn't want to go back on the medication after what it had done to me, but didn't know what else to do. Then, everyone I trusted, my doctor especially, had me convinced I had developed several new mental disorders in a matter of three days. I was so so scared, and my anxiety was through the roof. I really stressed myself out a lot trying to figure out "what was wrong with me" because I did not know at the time. On top of that I had the professionals I trusted assuring me it was my "symptoms coming back" (they actually said that right after I already told them I never ever had these symptoms before in my life, not even one of them.)


Then I happened to find SA, during my research into my symptoms and the ssri I was taking. I learned a lot in one night, and my jaw dropped. My gut had been telling me all this time it was the drug, it was withdrawal. But I ignored it and listened to the "experts" instead. HUGE MISTAKE!! Now I am stuck in a situation that makes me fear for the future, and not sure what I can do now that I am back on a higher dose. If I would've known better, I would not have allowed my doctor to titrate me up so high. I would've sat at the lowest possible dose, even the 12.5mg.


My withdrawal symptoms had really settled down a lot for the last two or three months now though. My appetite came back, libido came back, depression lifted almost instantly upon reinstatement, the anxiety and panic took a while to lift but that has really settled down a ton and only sporadically (maybe lasting a second or two) I'll feel a blip of panic and anxiety (typically when under a lot of built up stress), and my biggest gripe for withdrawal symptoms as of now is the anhedonia, but even that was beginning to lift where I'd get moments of joy or contentment or my interests peaking through the veil of anhedonia. My sleep actually went back to normal in the last week or two, and I haven't been waking with the dread or anxiety for the past three months now, and I have been feeling pretty good except now I got back into this wave and I think it's because I'm stressing over tapering and my dosage after what I read last night.


I read on SA someone said that being on too high a reinstatement dose can permanently damage your brain, where you will never heal from it. So I am really scared... I really need advice or wisdom on where to go from here. At this point, I worry I'll always feel this way and I'll never recover any further than where I currently am.


I'd be fine if I felt somewhat normal, where I could handle the withdrawal symptoms temporarily until they pass, and I do admit that on my better days I certainly can handle them. But I feel like reinstatement was pointless or worse for me than just muscling through the withdrawals after what I read about high dose reinstatement. I feel like A) it's going to take forever just to stabilise on this dose and B it's going to be painful trying to taper when the time comes, due to that I may have permanently damaged my brain with my reinstatement.


I guess what I am wondering now is, do I stay on this dose and wait for the anhedonia to completely go away, or how do I know when I am ready to begin tapering? At this point I am just feeling very confused and afraid about my dose and tapering in the future. I feel lost.


I'd really appreciate any help! Thank you!

Share this post

Link to post

How long have you been on reinstated dose? Don't worry about permanent damage. A similar thing happened to me. I tapered off sertraline or Zoloft as it's also called and then had a rough patch and renstated but this got me extremely anxious so my dose was upped and upped all the way to 200!!! I stabilized after a few weeks and will taper again. I do not feel I have permanent damage and I was reinstated on a way too high amount. One of the mods will hopefully give you more concrete advice but until they do have faith. Hang I. There, itwill get better and heal.

Share this post

Link to post

Hi Dini, welcome to SA.  What you are experiencing now is not likely to be withdrawal but a reaction to the high dose. It is good that you are feeling more stable.I see you reinstated in October, are you still taking buspirone? If not when did you stop it? 


After 7 months you could try a small reduction of sertraline and see how you get on with it. I would try a small reduction to 47.5, which would be 5% if my brain is functioning! You could make liquid to get that amount by dissolving a tablet in water and removing the  5% with a syringe. It is a bit daunting at first but it is very easy when you get used to it and you can make up a batch that will last a few days. Starting small will test how you are going to react to the reduction. 

We normally recommend tapering 10% of the CURRENT dose but as your nervous system is already a little fragile it might be better to start with 5%.  Hold for 4 weeks and assess how you are. I dont know where you read that about permanent damage but we do NOT believe that here. Members read things on other sites and post them here but in our research we have not found permanent damage from a too high reinstatement.  The brain is a remarkable organ and can heal itself. This takes time but it does happen. 


Here are some links for you. 


Tapering sertraline 




Why taper 10%




Making a liquid 







Share this post

Link to post

I apologize, I just first saw your replies on here. I didn't get a notification of replies to this post but I happened to check in today. I am actually doing much better now, still stabilising but almost there. My waves are less intense, neuro fears not so bad, it is getting lighter as time has gone on. 


I went completely off Sertraline 75mg in July 2016. My doctor tapered me from 75mg to 0mg in 6 weeks. Way too fast!!!!!


He cold turkeyed me off 25mg of sertraline saying it "has a natural taper", so we did not even taper the 25mg at the end.


I went through a mild phase of withdrawal from late July until September 20th, when my Withdrawal symptoms went into full force. By September 22nd my doctor told me it wasn't withdrawal, but that it was my "symptoms coming back" and he then put me on 5mg-10mg Lexapro. I had a bad reaction to it, so he cold turkeyed me after nearly 3 weeks on Lexapro and put me right on to buspirone 30mg for another 2 weeks. Horrid side effects made me beg my doctor, literally, to be reinstated on to sertraline instead. He began to taper me off of buspirone in October, and while tapering buspirone 30mg he had me begin Sertraline at 12.5mg. Each week he upped my dosage of Sertraline while lowering my dose of buspirone. I was in really rough shape at 37.5mg of sertraline, and then at 50mg still was not doing so hot. 


He tried to up my dose back to 75mg but my gut told me no, don't do it. I did try it two nights but I knew I needed to listen to my gut now and not my doctor, because he obviously didn't have a clue. So I went down to 57mg, because going down to 50mg after trying 75mg scared me too much after my too fast taper experience in July 2016. I've been on Sertraline since October 26th 2016, I've been off buspirone for many months now and only took it 2 weeks before tapering to reinstate the sertraline, I think it took me 3 weeks to fully taper off the buspirone so 5 weeks I was on it. Buspirone actually didn't give me a bad reaction, only the ssris did. Buspirone only made me nauseated and I had vertigo with it and it was annoying. I didn't even want to go back on meds but I had read on a random forum that if I experienced withdrawals for more than 3 weeks, reinstatement was the best option if it got out of control. So I just knew I needed to get back on sertraline and not mess with any other drugs at this point. 


My symptoms did get much, much worse during the first 6 months of my reinstatement of sertraline. Oddly though, it almost instantly lifted the crippling depression, where I just felt I was in a deep anhedonia phase for a while, (until around month 8 or 9ish the anhedonia began to lift a bit). During RI I began to have what I can only describe as waves and windows? I would also  feel a little better in the evenings, and I'd get glimmers of joy and interest in things here and there, sleep started to improve little by little, with very, very rough patches in between that really scared me. I am now plowing through the anhedonia phase. It's been roughly 10 months since I RI Sertraline now, and I'm seeing a lot of improvement at this point, but it has been very gradual, very slow.


I look back and realize that while off of Sertraline I think I could've muscled through the WD without RI, because RI did make things worse for a while. But back then i believed my doctor, I believed the counselor he made me see, I believed what people told me that i must've developed mental illnesses over night (in spite of never having anything remotely close to any mental illness for many, many years before taking sertraline). In fact, I should have never been given sertraline, to be completely honest. I was prescribed this drug for an unrelated reason: I was pregnant at the time and had the typical (extremely mild) pregnancy insomnia, and my doctor scared me into taking it saying less sleep for me would negatively affect my baby, she brought up hypertension among other scarey things, so I thought nothing of taking it, it was given to me like a tylenol, I had no idea I was taking an ssri or how it was really affecting me, I didn't feel any different on it than before I went on it so I just didn't know, I thought absolutely nothing of the 6 week taper my doctor did. Well, since I'm doing better than I was in September, there's no point dwelling on the should haves or my naivety now. 


I've begun micro tapering to get down to 50mg, and so far it's going good. I'm only tapering a tiny, tiny, TINY bit every 3 weeks, until I get back to 50mg, and then go from there. I'm sure I'm probably going slower than necessary but at this point I'm not willing to take chances. 


Thanks for the links! I did read all of them before posting here but still had concerns and questions. I do appreciate your replies though, sorry I didn't know they were here! I was checking for a few weeks but then forgot about it after a while. I'll post updates on how things are going once I get to 50mg. 


P.S. I hit the "notify me of replies" button at the bottom of this post, so I won't miss anything now. Thanks again!


Share this post

Link to post
On 5/19/2017 at 4:39 PM, Madeleine said:

How long have you been on reinstated dose? Don't worry about permanent damage. A similar thing happened to me. I tapered off sertraline or Zoloft as it's also called and then had a rough patch and renstated but this got me extremely anxious so my dose was upped and upped all the way to 200!!! I stabilized after a few weeks and will taper again. I do not feel I have permanent damage and I was reinstated on a way too high amount. One of the mods will hopefully give you more concrete advice but until they do have faith. Hang I. There, itwill get better and heal.

Madeleine, 200mg is exactly the goal my doctor had for me before I told him absolutely not! I can say my anxiety was more fear or phobia based before reinstatement but after reinstatement my anxiety went through the roof, I had developed the dreaded akathisia, and worsened panic attacks which I didn't know was even possible. It's possible I would've developed these symptoms had I not reinstated, because I've learned they're common in withdrawal, but I have a feeling the high doses played a huge part in my stabilising taking longer to set in.


I'm afraid to know what dose I'd be on today or how much I'd be suffering still if not for this site and all the great info I have gotten from it! I didn't know or understand even 1% of withdrawal before I found this site. I feel lucky to be here and to have access to real great advice finally!

Share this post

Link to post

Hi everyone, it's October now and I am doing better than I was at the beginning of this year. Still waiting to stabilise, but doing better more often than not and feeling like I've turned some corners finally. My emotions are slowly coming back, though when they do they're still pretty muted. I have the neuro angst and fear on and off, but mostly I'm suffering through the anhedonia phase yet. I have DP/DR on and off, cognitive issues and some memory problems persist. My head has gotten clearer since March. I had a pretty bad wave a couple weeks ago but after that found I've turned another corner where I'm feeling some joy come back, or interests surfacing again. A friend of mine phrased it as a "thawing out" and that is how it feels for me now. I'm slowly, very slowly coming around. 


Just wanted to update and keep this logged for future reference. I'll try to update again in another month or so. One other thing that makes me aware of my progress is the fact that last year I did not care about anything, but this year I am actually getting glimmers of excitement for the upcoming holidays which I normally love and enjoy outside of withdrawal. 


Thank you for listening! I hope everyone has a great week!

Share this post

Link to post

I know I've turned some corners but I am just not myself yet. I still have sleep issues on and off, lucid dreaming, anhedonia for the most part but this has lifted a bit over the past months,  I am happy to say. I still struggle with that anxiety abd panic we know too well in WD, but it's lighter and it has lifted like the anhedonia. My quality of life is better than it had been this time last year, I'll take whatever relief I can get at this point. I'm still at 57mg and decided it'd be best to stay there until I'm fully stabilised. I've been learning so much about these drugs and this whole experience in the meantime. I regularly listen and read the Bloom in Wellness site and webinars, also YouTube videos, my favorites are Peter Breggin, Baylissa, Claire Weekes (though I don't agree with her on taking medications/sedatives) I still find her to be very helpful and encouraging to me when things get really tough, I use her floating technique when this anxiety rears its ugly head. I'm grateful for the friends I've made here, especially Gigi as she has helped keep me together when I was falling apart on numerous occasions throughout my stabilisation. Everyone here has been so helpful, you all have literally saved my life. Finding this site was my big "aha" moment, and this journey was made bearable because of the research, the people and the support from this site. So thank you! I'm just updating this section to note the improvements and remaining symptoms. I still have waves, I get physical and psychological symptoms during the waves, they're just lighter now than they were last year, and less frequent. Though the anhedonia is constant, it is lighter and my emotions are starting to come back at last, though I'm still a bit flat and can tell I have plenty of room for improvement. The neuro fear is less frequent and it comes in the manner the windows used to earlier in my withdrawal, where it lasts seconds or minutes then is replaced by the window again. So that is where I am at so far. I'll update more as more healing takes place or I need to vent. 


Share this post

Link to post


I just read your thread and I'm glad I did.  It good to hear that you are stabilizing.  I hope you will continue to update us.


Share this post

Link to post
1 hour ago, RachelSusan said:


I just read your thread and I'm glad I did.  It good to hear that you are stabilizing.  I hope you will continue to update us.



Thanks RachelSusan! This has been quite the challenge, when I first came to SA I was in really bad shape. But I've made a lot of progress in healing and definitely have a very positive outlook again. I'm missing some things that make me who I am due to the residual apathy, but it is clearing, it's just very slow. 

Share this post

Link to post

Well, I can say I've turned another corner. Yesterday I felt a joy all afternoon like no other, and this contentment has carried over into today. I still have some apathetic type symptoms. But I noticed yesterday I have not felt that dreadful angst in a long time now. I don't recall when it cleared up. I know it's been at least a few months. Before, I had no ambition or want to do anything except breathe. Lately, I'm wanting to do things again like do laundry and actually enjoy it to a degree I haven't been able to in a while. I still lack the amount and quality of ambition that is normal for me though. There are some areas that let me know I'm not 100% yet, but others that reassure me I am in fact healing and closer than ever before to full stabilisation.

I have just gotten over two influenza viruses in one month. I don't know how, but somehow amidst all this mess my body was still able to fight off two of the nastiest sicknesses I've ever had in my life. Experiencing that has given me so much more hope and so much respect for my body. I trust that it is doing what it needs to do to heal. I hope everyone is doing well and I will try to keep updating as much as possible!

Share this post

Link to post

Well, I have finally stabilized! It sure feels good to feel like myself again. Sure, I still have some physical symptoms here and there, but they are certainly tolerable because that neuro/psychological crap is gone! I am currently still at 57mg of Sertraline, and I plan to stay there for several months before beginning a micro taper regimen. 

In the fog that was withdrawal, the idea of tapering was super scary and super complex. Now that I am stable and have a clearer head, I realize how simple tapering is (whether you do liquid, capsules with a scale etc.) It will be challenging no doubt, but I am confident that I can now come off of this garbage safely and successfully in my own time. 




What I took from this experience is:


Listen to my body and respect my body more than I did in the past.


Don't take anything for granted.


I've found true empathy, empathy for many people I could never have related to or understood had it not been for this experience.


Life is a miracle!


Do not quit! It DOES get better!


This experience made me stronger.






I recently went on vacation with my family, celebrated my kid's birthday with my extended family, and had a great time! I did not think about WD once, (except when I have to take my dose of Sertraline at night and I'd think "how great is it I don't feel like crap anymore!")


The stomach churning angst and fear is gone. The inner restlessness that held me back from enjoying things like family events, family time, and the basic concepts of every day life is gone. The racing thoughts are gone. My memory has improved remarkably. I find myself singing to the radio in my car to songs I have not sung to since I was a thirteen. I can remember if I brushed my teeth or not. I can remember things from the past like my wedding day and my childhood. I remember where I put the spoon while I am cooking, and I remember family recipes by heart again. What I can't fully remember is withdrawal. It is now a huge blur. I "know" it happened, I "know" it was bad. But I cannot picture it, or feel it. It's like a bad dream you soon forget once you move on from it.  


I want to say THANK YOU to everyone on SA for their help and for sharing all of this information on here. This site is extremely important and has helped me through this recovery process. I will be staying here until I am completely off this drug. It's a safe place to be for anyone currently on/off or coming off these drugs.



If anyone happens to read this and is struggling, here is a quote I often referred myself to during the waves in order to keep going another day:


Don't Quit

"When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is ***** with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit."

Share this post

Link to post

Great post.  It's a reinstatement mini-success story.

Share this post

Link to post

Hi Dini, it's good to hear that things are going well.


Please update your signature.


Please use the following format, just date drug dose.  No symptoms or diagnoses.  Thank you.


A request: Would you summarize your history in a signature - ALL drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly?

  • Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
  • A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
  • Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
  • Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.
  • Link to Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.


Edited by ChessieCat

Share this post

Link to post

Thanks, guys.


I just looked back over my signature and had to chuckle at myself because the WD made me so paranoid and scared of messing it up that I thought I had to be as detailed as possible or there would be dire consequences. 


I gave it a makeover now though. :)


I hope you are all doing well. 


Share this post

Link to post

Dini so great to hear you are doing well now.


Your experience with Zoloft reminds me of my own. I had taken it several times, for 3-4 months each time I think, but when I tried to reinstate I became horribly ill on even the smallest doses. I was pregnant at the time, and figured that something had changed with my body and I just couldn't tolerate it. My psychiatrists (outpatient at hospital) really thought it was all in my head, but we ended up switching to Citalopram (which I am tapering off now).


I'm trying to chase up my medical records so I can see whether my reaction at the time was complicated by withdrawal. I just can't remember how recently I had come off before then.


Isn't it just so paradigm-shifting when you discover about withdrawal etc. Like you, I felt like I needed to rewrite my whole story. I have seen countless GPs and several psychiatrists and NOT ONE told me anything about withdrawal or reinstatement problems, or took my symptoms as anything other than mental illness.


Good luck on your slow taper!

Share this post

Link to post

TikkiTikki I love your avatar! 


Yes, I was so lost by the time I found this site and other sites like Beyond Meds and Mad in America etc. It felt like an awakening once I discovered what was actually happening.


My doctor kept referring me to counselors and behavioral clinics and psychiatrists too. It was very exhausting but mostly it was really ridiculous. Like you, the "experts" kept telling me it was all in my head, it was my fault I felt the way I did, I got labeled with one mental illness or other disorder, none of them acknowledged that it was due to the drugs. They gave me a life sentence and that only made the wd symptoms worse. These sites gave me the hope and encouragement I needed to keep muscling forward. 


I hope your taper is going well. 

Share this post

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.