The Other Little Blue Pill

So, I’m thinking about trying to get off of the last 25 milligrams of Zoloft that I’ve been on since the day I gave birth to the twins. My OB thought it would be a good idea for me, with my history of PPD to start the Zoloft immediately, do not pass GO, go directly to a pharmacy. In retrospect, I still experienced major post partum depression and anxiety. So was it lessened from taking the Zoloft? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m not depressed now, I’ve weaned from 50 milligrams to 25 and I’m ready to get it out of my system entirely but…say hi to the withdrawal symptoms that can happen from ridding the last bit from your system. This looks like a pretty good time, doesn’t it? I’m thinking I should pencil in time for at least five of these side-effects conservatively:

Muscle and joint pain
Jolting electric “zaps”
Tingling sensations
Abdominal discomfort
Flu symptoms and general malaise
Sleep disturbance and insomnia
Vivid dreams
Anorexia, agitation
Memory and concentration difficulties
Visual hallucinations
Blurred vision
Gait disturbances
Chills and hot flashes
Crying spells
Suicidal thoughts

Okay, so in a perfect world I would get to choose my temporary side effects. I’m dropping this hint into the universe’s suggestion box: Out of all of these, if I had to pick five, I’d prefer anorexia (how bad could that be for a week or two right?), lethargy (does that involve couch time?) tingling sensations (is that even a bad thing?), weakness (“I can’t vacuum, I’m so weak“) hmm…none of the other ones sound workable. I don’t even know what myalgia is. I guess I’ll have to go with abdominal discomfort since I have that a lot anyway. Or maybe I’ll just stay on Zoloft FOREVER. I don’t know. Anyone have experience with this?

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on October 26, 2009 5:23 pmMeds,PPD50 comments  


  1. Anonymous said,

    Just try to hang in there… I went off Zoloft and a slew of other antidepressants and never really had any major side effects. The depression came back eventually but usually months or even years later. Just think positive (whenever possible : )

    | October 26, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

  2. Molly said,

    not a clue, but I'm on 200 mg of zoloft so your 25 sounds so nice! lol. I feel like with a lower dose you should have less side effects but I'm not sure. I'm intrigued if you go off it to see how it is for you…

    | October 26, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

  3. Marinka said,

    What the? My pill is green. Maybe because it's lithium. Kidding. But it is green.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

  4. Lisa Page Rosenberg said,

    It is my understanding that drinking messes with your serotonin levels, sometimes long term. With a history of depression and being relativley new to the non-drinking deal you might want to tread lightly in making any changes yet.

    If you do decide to go off, my experience has been to go real slow – 3/4 dose for a couple of weeks, then 1/2 dose for same, then 1/4 dose to minimize problems. And you still might feel "off" for a few months after you're done. Or you might have no side effects at all. Such a crap shoot.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

  5. Big Mama Cass said,

    After dropping to 25, you could try breaking the pill in half. I stopped after 50 and didn't have much of a side effect. But I was taking Well-Oft… the Wellbutrin, Zoloft combined. Sorry, wish I could be more help. 🙁

    | October 26, 2009 @ 7:34 pm

  6. Anna Marie said,

    Are they capsules or pills? When I went first tried to go off my Effexor the side effects were so horrendous that each day I had to open a capsule, pour all the little beads in a bowl, and then count them out. The first day I took out five tiny beads, and took the rest of them with water. The next day I took out 10 tiny beads, the next day 15…this continued for what seemed like a lifetime until I was finally finished with it. It was an unorthodox method, but it worked.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

  7. Trish said,

    I came off of Paxil, not Zoloft, but same idea. I had dizziness and what I found out is referred to as "the zaps." Basically, I'd be merrily working (or staring into space, whatever…) and all of a sudden the room would spin. Then it would feel like someone would tap me on the forehead (lightly. Just annoying, but not painful. Think Chinese Water Torture.) and all would be normal again.
    Lasted a few weeks.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 7:48 pm

  8. Stephanie Meade Gresham said,

    Wait. What's the OTHER other blue pill? I want that to go with my little yellow Nuprins. Aw. Cute.

    Truly, I always wonder if the side-effects they list on medication commercials are worse than what you're treating with the advertised medication.

    If it says diarrhea at all in the fine print, I'll pass. I'll take sad, slow and bulky bowel movements to happy squirts any ol day.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

  9. Rebecca said,

    The only thing that I've learned from living with pill poppers is that when starting a new pill, continuing on a pill, or stopping use of a pill, you should be followed by a licensed therapist or whatnot.

    If you see someone during the withdraw period your success in weaning off this pill and doing well will be a lot easier.

    Just call me Doctor….Dr. Crazy-Pants. I went to school at Google University.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  10. Lisa said,

    I was on Zoloft (generic) for PPD this year from March to September (50mg). I quit cold turkey and it SUCKED. Biggest side effects were dizzy spells and horrible insomnia. I was up all night at least once a week. But I was able to keep up with my favorite DVR shows (love you Mad Men).

    Anyway, one month later, the insomnia comes and goes (thanks to unisom I can go to work and not be a complete zombie). But I still have a sort of ADD issue with my attention span which never happened before.

    Best part is I can FEEL things again (good and bad). Good luck and just know that even if you feel like crap for a while it will pass.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

  11. Lia said,

    I say just keep taking your current dose until spring. This is a terrible time of year to start messing with serotonin levels!

    | October 26, 2009 @ 8:55 pm

  12. Summer said,

    I second all those people who said, "what the hayyyyyelllll?" Go off? Are you nuts?

    While I'm on Lexapro, lovingly referred to as Lexi, I call her my as long as my kids are at home full time best friend pill.

    But, if you're really sure….take it slowly!!! Sliver off little bits at a time, and it shouldn't be too bad.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

  13. CoftheU said,

    I was on Zoloft for about 6 months 10 years ago and got the electrical zaps when I went off of it. I would actually hear a little Bzzzt! in my head. I had no idea it was going to happen and was a little freaked. Like my brain was shorting out. 🙂

    It actually isn't so bad if you get it. Just annoying.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  14. divamommy said,

    I have been on Effexor for PPD for two years, and have tried weaning, etc, because of the 30 lb weight gain (on top of having kids). No luck, I am still bat shit crazy, so I tell my family… fat and happy, or thin and crazy….you decide.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 9:52 pm

  15. Emily said,

    i went off zoloft in july. i didn't really do it the slow way, and i should've. i had no idea the withdrawal would be so bad. it disturbed me to see how much it messed w/ my brain! i still need to be on something, but i won't be taking zoloft again. i had the zaps, the anxiety, nausea, lethargy, headaches, weakness. i seriously thought something was wrong w/ me until i read up on the withdrawal symptoms. it was not fun at all. it took a good month or so for the symptoms to go away. i went from 50 to 25, no big deal. then i went from 25 to nothing pretty quickly. dumb move. i suggest you go from 25 to zero very, very slowly.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 10:19 pm

  16. Molly said,

    It's amazing that something that they give out like candy has such intense side-effects upon withdrawal. I went to the doctor during a particularly hard period in my life, and said I was anxious. Doc wrote me a scrip right away for Prozac. After taking it for 10 days (too soon to see the effects), I went off it because I realized, DUH. It's my LIFE that sucks, not my brain chemistry.

    | October 26, 2009 @ 10:46 pm

  17. Anonymous said,

    i was on zoloft for about 18 months. at the most i was taking 100mg, but dropped down to 25 for around 3 months before quitting. i had no withdrwal symptoms at all, but it's different for everyone. also, i hadn't been warned that i could experience withdrawal, so maybe i wasn't looking for symptoms. as a mild hypochondriac, not antcipating it might have been a good thing! i was most concerned about slipping back into depression, which i didn't.

    i agree that the best approach is to do it under the watchful eye of a pro if possible. like, a doctor of some sort, not a hooker (unless you're into that).

    | October 26, 2009 @ 11:51 pm

  18. Corey said,

    Hmm. As someone who has been on and off anti-depressants most of my adult life (mostly on), I have to agree with Lia. Baaaaaad time o' year to be effin' with the seratonin. a) Where is the sun? Have you noticed it is dark ALL THE TIME? Don't you want to sleep? I even add a light box this time of year. b) The holidays are coming! If that doesn't make you need to pop some pills, I don't know what will. c) If you're not having problems with side effects, and you can afford the med, I would save withdrawal syndrome for another time of year. And then however long your doctor says to spread it out, tell her you want to double it.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 12:33 am

  19. Anonymous said,

    Yes, I did what you are attempting to do.

    I stopped taking 25 mg of Effexor and started taking 5-HTP in the pm and a concentrated form of St. John's Wort in the a.m. I also take L-Tyrosine in the a.m. All three work to boost and maintain serotonin. All natural and all purchased at Phamraca. Works like an absolute charm! Have never felt better.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 12:39 am

  20. CRUSTYBEEF said,

    Yes yes and Yes. I had bad PPD with each pregnancy. Actually I had Peripartum depression, and postpartum (I wonder if I had perisex depression too-lol)

    But as you, I was on the zoliolioxinfree too.

    It was difficult to wean off, but I did.
    Only to morphe into anxiety versus the depression. This was a few months after being off, but the panic attacks came out of no where.

    So, doc put me on wellbutrin.
    The one antidepress. (that helps with anxiety and for those that want to stop smoking) that actually helped me lose weight in the very beginning.

    good luck. theres risk with anything,.I mean, we can tear during labor- but it's worth the risk-
    one Crusty Mom-E

    | October 27, 2009 @ 12:57 am

  21. Anonymous said,

    Quitting alcohol and antidepressants at roughly the same time – you are a saint (and a very brave person!) Personally, I have suffered from depression for fifteen years and the hormones from having a baby did not help the situation! Regardless, kudos to you for having the courage to quit drinking and antidepressants. I tried to go off antidepressants before I had my first baby – not a pretty picture. I am someone who should be off antidepressants! As much as I wanted to quit, I was unable to. Best of luck to you – I have thoroughly enjoyed your books and am thrilled to have discovered your blog.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 1:26 am

  22. Anonymous said,

    I had PPD after my daughter. Wine didn't seem to do the trick, so I got on Lexapro. Worked great until I got pregnant when my daughter was 6 months old! I stopped Lexapro cold turkey and I can honestly say that was the worst week of my life. I truly did want to die/kill myself. BUT that only happened to me because I stopped completely. Just wean yourself and you should be fine. If you notice yourself getting down at all, just take a half of one or something. It's more important for you and your family to remain mentally clear and happy. Good luck! I feel for you, PPD sucks!!

    | October 27, 2009 @ 1:39 am

  23. Diva Ma @ Mommy Fabulous said,

    Am I the only one NOT taking Zoloft? That is a LONG list of side effects. Maybe staying on the little pill won't be so bad! LOL!

    | October 27, 2009 @ 2:47 am

  24. Gilsner said,

    I went off 175mg of Effexor cold turkey (I went on a trip and the pills didn't)… the first 2 weeks were bizarre (brain zaps really are brain 'zaps'… very trippy) but after that I was fine. Of course I never get any of the good side effects, gosh darn it…

    | October 27, 2009 @ 4:35 am

  25. Kendra said,

    Good luck, Stefanie! I was on Zoloft for a while but had trouble with some of the side effects, so I went to Lexapro, which just made me cry all the time, then to Wellbutrin, which gave me raging insomnia, and finally to Wellbutrin XL, which has worked well for a few years. Now that I'm done having kids, my doctor (who has happily raised my dosage twice) thinks maybe we should try taking me off in the spring. I find that idea terrifying. Lower the dosage? Absolutely. But go from "let's see if a little more will stop you from ever feeling bad" to "I'm sure you're all better now"? A little scary. And the side effects are scary too! When I transitioned from Zoloft to Lexapro, I don't remember any negative side effects, but that may have just been because I wasn't going off the meds, just onto something else.

    Waiting until the spring might not be a bad idea, or you can go off the Zoloft and possibly add a light box (I have one, and it really is pleasant, like getting to sit in front of a summery sunny window in January). But whenever you do it, I'm sure there will be challenges. I hope it goes well!

    | October 27, 2009 @ 11:58 am

  26. Melissa Ives said,

    I had to up my Prozac prescription from 40mg to 60mg after having my twins. I've tried weaning off my meds, but it is never a good thing. I would be fine for awhile, but then slip into that deep dark hole of depression again. Of course, I've been on the stuff (on and off) since I was 16. I just came to the conclusion that I need it. You wouldn't stop taking insulin if you were a diabetic. I have depression and it needs to be treated.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

  27. Lynn from For Love or Funny said,

    Fortunately, I've never been on an anti-depressant, but I've had really good results with biofeedback and progressive relaxation. Sounds kinda silly, but I had to learn how to physically relax after my body got used to being so stressed for so long.

    I'm anxious (no pun intended) to hear about this next step in your journey.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

  28. AZ Mommy said,

    You could try slowly reducing the amount you take. This would require you cutting the pills though. Like for one week take 3/4 of a pill, the next take 1/2 and the next take 1/4 and the next be off!

    | October 27, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  29. Jamie said,

    I think that you will be okay with such a low dosage. I did not have any of these side effects when I went off of it slowly. However, the one time that I just abruptly quit taking it, I kind of freaked out on everyone. So ease off it and I think you'll be cool.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  30. Grateful said,

    I also decided to go off Zoloft cold turkey about a year into sobriety and do not recall any significant problems in doing so… but we are all different.

    I had already experienced so many of the "side effects" you listed as a result of my daily wine drinking habit (read: ADDICTION) that I figured it couldn't be any worse. Luckily, I did okay and just gained a greater sense of peace by regaining all of my feelings (both good and bad) that my drinking had robbed from me for so many years and the meds had continued to hinder.

    Our sobriety may not always be easy but when I really think about that checklist of words that you listed here in relation to how I used to live most days, I know how much harder my addicition was!!!

    God bless YOU and good luck!!!

    | October 27, 2009 @ 4:55 pm

  31. Natalie said,

    I absolutely love your point of view on this. It's great that you are talking about it. Your blog is wonderful and I can't get enough.

    I just mentioned yout blog on my page as one of my favs!

    | October 27, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

  32. Anonymous said,

    1) what a bunch of drug addicts we all are
    2) shame on the doctors for handing the stuff out like candy.

    Really, get a grip people. The answer is not in a pill. Find the answer in your heart and head. Don't turn to doctors to fix it all. They are clueless and can do more harm than good.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  33. Anonymous said,

    i eventually stopped feeling depression/anxiety just like, you, and didn't have any side effects at all getting off the zoloft

    | October 27, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

  34. Anonymous said,

    Why the need to go off Zoloft now? You are dealing with a lot right now and if you're feeling ok , why not wait until the Spring when its sunny and you can go outside and focus on outdoor activities with your kids…

    BTW- I've gone off Prozac, Lexapro and now am on Zoloft and have had no major side effects- except for recurring depression/anxiety 🙂

    | October 27, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

  35. Wendi said,

    I can't give any advice because the only things I've ever weened myself from were Diet Coke and fun-sized candy bars. Wait–scratch that. I'm still using.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

  36. Anonymous said,

    I have been on zoloft for almost three years. Best thing I could have done for me and my family. I am on 100 mg and have no plans on cutting back. For the dear lady who told us pill poppin' gals "to get a grip"…well sometimes it's just not that easy. I have a long line of mental health issues in my family. I consider myself one of the lucky ones that is ONLY on zoloft! 🙂 Good luck Stephanie! Go slow and please consult with your doctor as you continue to wean yourself off.

    | October 27, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

  37. Heidi said,

    Those are all the side effects for when you take that med too!
    I had "brain zaps" when I weaned myself off of Effexor. I posted about it a while ago.
    I read somewhere that Benadryl and or Prozac can help with withdrawel symptoms. Prozac supposedly leaves your body faster than other SSRI's so there are less effects when you stop it.
    I did the same thing Anna Marie did,(commented) with my capsules.
    I've been taking Lexapro for a few years now.

    | October 28, 2009 @ 12:18 am

  38. Lauren said,

    I love Zoloft! I take 2-25mg pills a day. I would talk to you dr. about weaning off the Zoloft. Quitting cold turkey can be dangerous. Good luck! (Also, mine are green, not blue, but I take the generic because I'm broke).

    | October 28, 2009 @ 12:53 am

  39. Anonymous said,

    Just as I was supposed to wean off the Zoloft for my PPD, I got the flu. Went ahead with it, because I figured there was no point having the same symptoms twice. Didn't get the zaps, and it just felt like the flu, so it didn't go too badly for me.

    Good luck!

    | October 28, 2009 @ 4:32 am

  40. Rebecca said,

    I've come off Aropax a couple of times. Once I just stopped 'cause I felt like it & the other time I followed my doctor's instructions and slowly reduced. The second time there were no side effects so i'd get advice on it. (though Aropax is not Zoloft).
    Turns out I had not been correctly diagnosed so the mood changeability continued. Different medication required.
    For me I find that I can keep life on an even keel through a combination of minimum medication, a bit of therapy, exercise, fun & minimal alcohol. In the future I'm hoping that I can have no meds but if that's not possible so be it.

    | October 28, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  41. Shannon said,

    When I found out I was pregnant with Abbie,(ready for this?), I was on:
    1. Oxycodone
    2. Zanaflex
    3. Xanax (as needed) three boys and a husband at home besides finding out I was pregnant ontop of dealing with Rheumatoid Arthrtitis!!!!!!!!
    4. Savella (for the Fibrmyalgia that I also have! Bam! there is your answer to what myalgia is!
    5. Topiriamate for my irriating migrane's that I struggle with one to four times per week. sometimes twice per day!! Talk about suicidal thoughts! Right there is a good reason!
    6. Robaxin for muscle spasms which I get way too often in my spine and have to have my 80lb 4 year old rub them out because my 14 month old looks at me like I am from Mars when I ask her to do it. It's sad!
    So, needless to say, when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, which was shock, I had to stop all these meds at once, because the thought of putting one of these pills in my mouth scared the fuck out me! I went through
    ONE MONTH OF HELL ON EARTH WITHDRAWl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I literally could not get off the couch, couldn't eat, had migraine's so bad I thought I was going to DIE! I shook, and sweat and pooped and puked and cried and slept and shook and sweat and pooped cried and sweat and hurt and sweat and cried …you get the picture. Alot of the reason was I did not wean off the meds, I just stopped. My doctor about beat me to death! But I did not want to harm the baby by taking any of those nasty drugs. Not thinking what I was doing to my body was worse! Your quitting should be a walk in the freaking park girlfriend! Good Luck! Luv Ya!
    P.S. I did w/d from an antidpressant before and the only side effect I had was the dizziness. You should be good since we are already dizzy broads to begin with!!! (kidding!) Shannon

    | October 28, 2009 @ 11:45 am

  42. The Byrd's Nest said,

    You are hilarious! You know, now that you bring Zoloft up, right after I got off of Zoloft I started having that misterious electric jolting sensation that you mentioned. Mine never really went away though! I did notice a big change in mood swings too. It is strange to me how the Dr's get away with not telling you these things before they put you on them! Hey if I could pick and choose…hmmm…that would be a tough one!

    | October 28, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

  43. Anonymous said,

    After taking Zoloft during a particularly bad time in my life, I decided I wanted it out of my system as well. My side effects drove me crazy and I was tired of sweating like a line backer and feeling about sex the way oil feels about water. I did not consult my doctor, as I am very impulsive and just went cold turkey. It turned out to be just fine and I had no withdrawls or anxiety whatsoever. And, I felt so much more clear headed. Good luck. It sounds like you are ready and your body will listen to your head.

    | October 29, 2009 @ 12:04 am

  44. Anonymous said,

    Just saw you on Dr. Oz (10/25 Tvo)and am a little confused. I didn't hear any mention of you taking Zoloft. Kind of dangerous mixing the Zoloft with the alcohol (which is the only topic of your Dr. Oz segment). Did he know that and if so, why wasn't it addressed? Have never blogged before, so just checking the anonymous box. Will be looking for your response. I am certainly not one to judge as I don't have kids – I have my own issues but am just curious why it wasn't brought up on TV.

    | October 29, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

  45. Gretchen said,

    still cracking up. Love this post.

    | October 29, 2009 @ 11:07 pm

  46. CountryMidwife said,

    You probably experienced PPD still because 50 mg of Zoloft is piddly. Whoever was advising you on that was conservative, to say the least. But the side effects FROM zoloft (ie, is the big O a distant memory?) are something too. I strongly believe zoloft withdrawal is a serious problem, but can be avoided if you wean s-l-o-w-l-y. I'm talking, buy a pill splitter and take 3/4 pill for a week… then half pill for a week… then quarter pill for a week… then quarter pill every other day… then 3 times a week… then once a week… You'll forget to take it by the time you get here though 🙂 and be weaned. In the meantime, boost up with Omega Oils, SAMe and St. Johns wort (then wean off the SJW). All in the name of O! 🙂

    | October 30, 2009 @ 2:15 am

  47. The Reluctant Mommy said,

    I am so glad someone else has experienced the zaps! It's the weirdest side effect I had ever personally experienced. I went off Zoloft and had the zaps and dizzy/equilibrium stuff happen for a few months. I weaned myself very very slowly but it did take months. I went off and realized, you know, I am back to my anxious bitchy self, so I went back on them. Good luck!

    | November 3, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  48. mfk said,

    The zaps are shitty. If I skip the zoloft for even a day (was on 50, now 100, going the wrong way….), I get zaps and nausea. They are hard to describe if you have never had them, but as someone else said it is basically like your brain shorting out for a minute. Like one of those electric buzzer hand trick things (you know where you shake someone's hand and they buzz you?), but in your brain. Doesn't hurt, at least for me, but does feel very disconcerting and weird, and somewhat disorienting.

    But yeah, as has been said, why do you want to stop right now along with quitting drinking? It might be better to give it a few more months, maybe wait for spring if you are prone to S.A.D. (I am). 25 is very low anyway, barely even a dose, so you may not have any withdrawal but why right this minute if you don't need to?

    | November 7, 2009 @ 5:27 am

  49. Stephanie Rae said,

    So this is why I'm getting fat? I had no idea Zoloft made ya gain weight but i'm gathering it does. nice.

    So not only do the docs not tell ya about the WD but they also don't tell ya you'll be a fatty going through WD.


    | November 8, 2009 @ 7:18 am

  50. Cindermommy said,

    I went off cold turkey this time last year. I was on 100 mg. I was trying to prove to myself I didn't need them or something, and I didn't have any idea about the withdrawl symptoms because my counselor had been vauge about them. Anyway, this was stupid. Obviously.

    I had the zaps, and I thought I was going crazy. It was like those hand buzzers, but in your brain. Good times. I also had insomnia. But I didn't go back on them, and it's been a year. I think my brain works ok now. =)

    | November 10, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

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