Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by
Marisa Savic, PMHNP-BC
February 15, 2024

Zoloft belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressant medication and is often used to treat a variety of mood and anxiety disorders. While it is advised to continue taking your antidepressant medication, if effective, for someone taking the medication long term and wants to get off, has side effects that are not able to be tolerated, or is not having improvements on a therapeutic dose, stopping the medication may be an appropriate choice. However, getting off any medication has risks and SSRIs in particular can have a discontinuation syndrome if not properly tapered off. 

According to a review of studies on the incidence of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, more than half of people going off antidepressants abruptly can experience withdrawal symptoms. What symptoms can you expect, and how do you manage them? Continue reading to learn more about Zoloft withdrawal symptoms and how to get the care you need.

What Is Zoloft?

As stated above, Zoloft, also known as sertraline, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which is a class of medications that increase serotonin levels in the brain. Stable serotonin levels can improve sleep, memory, appetite, mood and anxiety. Zoloft in particular is FDA-approved to manage the following disorders.

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

In addition, the medication can be prescribed off-label to treat symptoms of a number of additional disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, binge eating disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, bulimia nervosa and premature ejaculation.

This medication helps people gain control over their mood and anxiety, which in turn improves their quality of life. To note, many individuals who find Zoloft to be a good match for them find relief within 2-6 weeks on an optimized dose as it can take time for the brain to adapt and improve symptoms.

However, some people find that they cannot tolerate side effects of Zoloft, have not found long term benefits, or no longer want to be taking medication. This can lead to the decision to stop taking Zoloft cold turkey, which can be difficult for the body to adjust to. It is thought that an abrupt decrease in serotonin levels can lead to withdrawal symptoms, so it is safest to follow a tapering plan. Withdrawal symptoms resolve over time, are not life-threatening, and are reversible with proper adjustments to tapering, however they can still be concerning to patients who are struggling with them.

A list of physical and psychological Zoloft withdrawal symptoms

Common Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms

Common symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome include the following:

Physical symptoms

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness 
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension 
  • Fatigue 
  • Aches and chills
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea 
  • Stomach cramps
  • Jerks
  • Brain zaps

Psychological symptoms

  • Mood changes (irritability and depression)
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Feeling detached
  • Trouble concentrating

While some of these symptoms are similar to those experienced in cases of anxiety and depression, they do not necessarily signify a relapse. However, without proper management, the risk of relapse is still present. For individuals coming off Zoloft, uncontrolled depression symptoms can develop again and even escalate to suicidal ideation or self harm, seen more often in children and adolescent populations. 

If you experience suicidal thoughts, you should seek professional help immediately. For help to overcome suicidal thoughts, you can call 988 Lifeline to talk to a counselor. 988 is a suicide and lifeline crisis network available 24/7. It provides free and confidential support to people in distress (emotional and suicidal crisis). 

What You Can Do to Manage Withdrawal Symptoms

The first step to managing withdrawal symptoms is to work closely with a healthcare provider who can help guide you through the tapering process and make it easiest to tolerate for you. If you want to work on additional ways to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms, we have listed some below.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Specific lifestyle changes can help you reduce the duration of Zoloft withdrawal symptoms. Examples include:

  • A healthy diet. Regularly eating foods can keep the chemicals in your brain balanced. A proper diet can reduce mood swings following withdrawal.
  • Avoid alcohol. During Zoloft withdrawal, alcohol can impact physical and emotional symptoms. The substance can also worsen conditions like anxiety in the long term.
  • Drink water. Staying hydrated can reduce symptoms like headaches.
  • Limit caffeine. Caffeine can make insomnia and anxiety worse. It can stay in your body for many hours, so drink a small amount of it in the morning, if at all.

Emotional Support

Managing the mental symptoms of withdrawal can be challenging. You do not have to go through the process alone. Find a family member or friend who can support you emotionally. Furthermore, local support groups assist in giving you tips and making you feel less alone. You can also speak with a therapist or your medication provider for more support.


Withdrawal can be an uncomfortable process. Therefore, self-care is necessary for the most comfortable recovery. Some ways you can practice self-care include the following:

  • Relaxation. Find activities that lower the stress and anxiety you feel during Zoloft withdrawal. Yoga, warm baths, and meditation are common methods.
  • Distractions. Comforting activities provide a healthy way to cope with withdrawal symptoms. Movies, music, and reading can keep your mind distracted.
  • Plenty of sleep. Sleep helps improve energy and focus during the day. Create a bedtime schedule and stick to it for best benefits.

How Long Do Zoloft Withdrawals Last?

If you do experience withdrawal symptoms, how long they last may vary depending on the duration you’ve been taking Zoloft and the dosage amount. Usually, the symptoms last at most up to two weeks.

Can I Taper Off Zoloft On My Own?

While you can taper off of Zoloft on your own, it is best to consult your healthcare provider to work together on a tapering plan so withdrawal symptoms can be avoided altogether. Generally, reducing gradually is the best method, and you should try and stick with each lowered dose for at least two weeks before reducing further. Update your prescriber on any side effects or worsening of mood/anxiety symptoms you may experience.

Eleanor Health Can Help You Recover

At Eleanor Health, we provide comprehensive and compassionate care for members struggling with substance and alcohol use disorders. Many people use substances to lessen mental health symptoms and we can help provide you with support, guidance, therapy and assistance managing medications to best stabilize without the need for drugs or alcohol. We have clinics in Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington. Contact us to see what treatment options work best for you.

Get Started Today

Marisa Savic, PMHNP-BC

Marisa Savic, PMHNP-BC is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who received her nursing and master’s degrees at the University of Pennsylvania. Marisa has worked as a provider, clinical manager, director of clinical quality, and program manager of addiction treatment at numerous companies specializing in telepsychiatry as well as working in person at inpatient, outpatient, detoxification and crisis center facilities. She is currently the National Lead Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Eleanor Health and her clinical interests include therapeutic communication, evidence-based treatment and nonjudgmental care.

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