Monday, May 24, 2010

Zoloft: My love/hate affair

It is sunny out. And its going to be warm. It hasn't been like this in a while and I am so relieved. It is amazing how much influence the weather can have on your mood. You just feel lighter and happier on sunny days. Its kind of sad that I live in a city that doesn't see much sunlight. Right now I'm laying in bed with my puppy, with sunshine pouring through the window and a light breeze is blowing the curtains. Heaven.

Speaking of sunshine and happiness. You might have noticed in my last post that I'm on antidepressants. I have been for eight years now, Zoloft to be exact. I have always been a "worrier", but in college, stress started getting to me and I began having panic attacks, seemingly out of nowhere. One minute I'd be happily watching a movie with my boyfriend (now husband) and the next I'd be hyperventilating, curled up in a ball and thinking that I was about to die. Things started to get really bad when I went home to visit my parents for a weekend and I ended up having a full blown panic attack.  I pulled myself together and was able to go back to my dorm the next day. But then it started again. I remember my roommate helping me walk to student health, and I couldn't even stand up straight. I couldn't breath, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was nauseated. The geniuses at student health diagnosed me with dehydration and pumped me with three liters of saline fluid. When that seemed to do nothing, they ordered blood tests and asked if I had been tested for cancer. (???!!!) Not something you say to someone during a panic attack.

After the fiasco at student health, my parents brought me home. I stayed there for a week or two, luckily it was winter break. If you don't have panic disorder, it is impossible to understand this. It seems like a mental thing but it is SO PHYSICAL. I was sickeningly dizzy, could barely get off the couch to go to the bathroom, had ringing in my ears and couldn't eat. We were able to find a psychiatrist that could fit me in for an emergency appointment and I was diagnosed with panic disorder and put on Zoloft.

I have a love/hate relationship with Zoloft. I believe it is what really pulled me out of this random breakdown, which I still don't know the reasons and trigger for. It acted as a band aid while I went to therapy and learned why the panic attacks happened and how to cope with them.

But I'm not the same person as I was before I started the medicine. I'm tired all the time and it really gets in the way of my life. I often take daily naps and will sometimes just fall asleep when I'm trying to work on something. I have trouble concentrating on a task. I have become EXTREMELY forgetful and scatter-brained. I can't remember certain long-term things and I do stupid shit all the time. I forget appointments, I forget to pay bills, I forget to look in the rear view mirror when I back out of the driveway and I hit my sister's car. Oops. Then last night, I realized I couldn't find my NEW $700 camera and after 20 minutes of sobbing and calling around, I found out that I had left it at my cousin's wedding shower and that my aunt had it. It has become sort of a joke among my family and friends about how scatterbrained I am, but it bothers me because I wasn't always like this.

Then there is physical stuff. I have gained about 30 pounds since I started taking Zoloft. I'm sure some of it had to do with college life, dorm food, and massive consumption of PBR light. But still. I'm hungry all the time, and I wasn't like that before.

In the past couple years, I have managed to go down from 150 mg to 50 mg, which is pretty huge. Many people have TERRIBLE withdrawal effects from trying to go off their medicine and many people relapse and have to go back on. Luckily, I have not had trouble going down, I think because I have done it so gradually. In a few weeks, I plan on going down to 25. I want to get off of it this year. I hardly ever have panic attacks and when I feel one starting, I know how to bring myself back down from it. But it still scares me a bit, the idea of not taking that pill every night. But I can't wait to be free of it.

So I'm kind of coming out with this because I want to know about other people's experiences. I want to know if people have gone off the antidepressants and whether the weight has come off, sex drive returned, etc.  Or any kind of experience with it. One thing I realized after going on the meds is that MUCH more people are on antidepressants than you think. I was so secretive about it until I realized that I was definitely not the only one. Anyway, I love having discussions about this topic, so fire away! :)


  1. If Zoloft was that bad for you, they should have tried you with something else.

    I have a myriad of psychiatric conditions so I've been on antidepressants and antipsychotics for a while. I withdrew from Zoloft recently to go onto Effexor, and I didn't have a problem. I lost a bit of weight, but that was due to a recent trauma. If the Zoloft was making you gain weight though, it should come off in no time.

    You're lucky, Zoloft seems to be a pretty easy one to come off. SSRIs are easier to come off than SNRIs.

    Word verification: Worse. Well, that's a bit forboding. I hope it goes well!

  2. Yeah, I think I was just too afraid to try to switch to another med if the Zoloft was working "well enough". Plus I knew that Zoloft was easier to get off of than some, and I didn't want to mess with something that would be impossible to go off of. The whole issue is just frustrating.

    Thanks though!

  3. I used to be on Zoloft a few years ago and quit taking it because depression and anxiety were better than having the life stripped right out of me. I had every single side effect you mentioned, and I couldn't handle it.

  4. I used to take Welbutrin and had no weight gain or sex drive issues at all. I then later switched to Efexor partnered with Tri-leptal (mood stabelizers) and while there was some weight gain, there werent any sex drive issues. In addition to that, while i had read horror stories upon horror stories upon horror stories about the effects of coming off Efexor, to the point where my dr told me to under no circumstances leave town without taking them with me, when I had to stop taking them from one day to the next without being able to slowly taper off them, i didnt have a single one of the anticipated side effects. but i know thats not always the case. The weight also didnt just come off again.

    If zoloft works well enough for you, stick to it, if it doesnt, dont be afraid of switching to something that may help you more the way you need it to. its not uncommon for people to have to go through several different types of meds to find the one(s) that work properly for them.