Zoloft Detox: Risks, Side Effects, And Tips

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 11, 2021

Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription antidepressant. Chronic use of this drug can cause dependence and withdrawal, also known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Detoxing from Zoloft will typically involve a gradual taper and additional treatment as needed.

How To Detox From Zoloft

Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription antidepressant medication. Although its abuse potential is low, it can be habit-forming and cause physical dependence with chronic use.

Detoxing from Zoloft after a period of long-term use or drug misuse may require a tapering process. Do not stop taking Zoloft all at once or without first speaking to a doctor.

Find out more about detoxing from antidepressants

How Does Zoloft Detox Work?

Doctors generally recommend slowly weaning off Zoloft. This is also known as a tapering process. This involves gradually reducing the amount of Zoloft you take.

Tapering off Zoloft over a period of time can help prevent serious side effects, including rebound depression and thoughts of suicide during the detox process.

Side Effects Of Zoloft Detox

Quitting Zoloft after taking it for some time may cause certain side effects known as symptoms of withdrawal. This can be physical and psychological in nature.

If you have Zoloft dependence, withdrawal symptoms may develop anywhere from hours after your first missed dose, to several days after stopping Zoloft.

Zoloft is a medication that can leave the blood and body fairly quickly. This can also make withdrawal more severe without proper monitoring and treatment.

Physical Zoloft withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • nausea
  • sweating
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • ringing in the ears
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • numbness
  • tingling sensations

Emotional and psychological Zoloft withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • irritability
  • mood changes
  • depression
  • excitable or frenzied mood
  • anxiety

Tapering off Zoloft may help prevent moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms, including severe changes in mood or seizures.

Although life-threatening symptoms are uncommon, it’s best to consult a doctor before making any adjustments to your use of Zoloft.

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Risks Of Zoloft Detox And Withdrawal

Detoxing from Zoloft may cause a relapse in symptoms the drug is frequently prescribed to treat, including symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Furthermore, complications of Zoloft abuse, addiction, or polysubstance abuse can also affect the detox process and potentially cause more intense withdrawal.

Risk factors for complications during Zoloft detox include:

  • stopping Zoloft cold-turkey
  • substance abuse or drug addiction
  • stopping multiple drugs at once
  • history of alcohol abuse
  • having a mental health disorder

Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome

One of the most well-known complications that occur from stopping Zoloft is antidepressant discontinuation syndrome—also known as SSRI discontinuation syndrome.

Zoloft affects certain chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters.

Its action on one of these—serotonin—can cause changes in the brain that can result in withdrawal, or discontinuation syndrome, with stopped use.

Signs of SSRI discontinuation include:

  • flu-like symptoms
  • rebound depression
  • mood changes
  • insomnia
  • tremors
  • sensory disturbances
  • impaired balance
  • suicidal thoughts
  • stomach cramping
  • diarrhea
  • “electric shock” sensations (“brain zaps”)
  • seizures

Discontinuation syndrome can last one to two weeks.

Intense discontinuation symptoms may be prevented by tapering off Zoloft slowly. Developing this condition is higher in people who stop Zoloft too quickly.

Seizures During Zoloft Detox

Seizures are a rare, but serious side effect that can occur as a result of stopping Zoloft too quickly after prolonged use, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Tips For Coping With Zoloft Detox

Detoxing from Zoloft can be physically uncomfortable and be difficult to cope with emotionally. The best and safest way to detox from this prescription drug is through a tapering process.

During this process, here are tips for how to safely detox from Zoloft:

  • talk to a doctor about creating a Zoloft detox plan
  • don’t rush the process
  • stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • consider psychotherapy to help with mood changes
  • ask your doctor about using OTC medications for symptom relief
  • avoid drinking too much caffeine
  • seek social support from friends and family

Managing Zoloft withdrawal at home with social support and guidance from a healthcare professional is possible.

However, if you’re getting off Zoloft after a period of drug abuse, or have a history of drug abuse, your doctor may recommend seeking out a formal detox program.

Zoloft Detox FAQs

Have questions about Zoloft detox? Find answers to common questions about detoxing from Zoloft, Zoloft withdrawal, and treatment options for Zoloft abuse.

❓ Do You Need To Detox From Zoloft?

✔️ Slowly weaning off Zoloft is recommended for anyone who’s taken Zoloft for more than six to eight weeks. This can help prevent severe SSRI discontinuation syndrome.

❓ Is Detoxing From Zoloft Dangerous?

✔️ Serious side effects, including suicidal ideation and seizures, can occur if someone with severe Zoloft dependence tries to stop taking Zoloft all at once or too quickly.

❓ How Long Does It Take To Detox From Zoloft?

✔️ The full process of withdrawing from Zoloft may take several weeks. The timeline for this will depend on how long you’ve been taking Zoloft, the dose, and other factors.

❓ What Does Zoloft Withdrawal Feel Like?

✔️ Getting off Zoloft can cause flu-like symptoms as well as changes in mood that can be difficult to manage alone. Symptoms may be mild to moderate in nature.

❓ What Happens If You Stop Taking Zoloft Cold Turkey?

✔️ Stopping Zoloft cold-turkey may cause intense symptoms of SSRI discontinuation syndrome in people who have been taking high doses of Zoloft for a long time.

Severe symptoms of this may require medical treatment.

Find Zoloft Detox And Treatment Today

Zoloft is a prescription medication that is safe and effective when taken as prescribed. When misused, however, it can pose negative consequences to one’s health and well-being.

Detox is the first step on the path toward recovery from drug abuse and addiction.

For more information about Zoloft detox and treatment options for Zoloft abuse, call our helpline to connect with a trained and knowledgeable staff member today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 11, 2021

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