Last Updated on May 27, 2022 by
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Alternative to Meds Center’s holistic Zoloft addiction treatment facility is familiar with much better resolutions than spending the rest of your life stuck on antidepressant drugs.
Risks of Zoloft Addiction and Dependence
Drug ads do not highlight the evidence that long-term use can lead to physical or psychological Zoloft addiction. Zoloft side effects include the potential for Zoloft addiction. The International Journal of Mental Health Nursing published an article in 2018 reporting that 55% of 1829 people taking antidepressants experienced withdrawals and 27% of the group reported addiction as a consequence of long-term antidepressant use.4
Long-term users of Zoloft and similar antidepressants likely experience a more intense or serious set of side effects when trying to quit the drug than a person who took the drug for only a few days or weeks. If no withdrawal symptoms emerged when stopping the drug, addiction or dependence had not developed. And conversely, if withdrawal symptoms emerge when stopping Zoloft, addiction or dependence has developed. One should also be aware that withdrawal symptoms may take several days or even weeks to appear, which is thought to relate to a drug’s half-life and other factors affecting metabolism and excretion. These withdrawal adverse effects sometimes can be misunderstood and this may result in psychiatric or medical misdiagnosis. There is no good ending to that very complex story.1
Apart from addiction and dependence, Zoloft side effects mentioned on the drug’s label and elsewhere can be quite serious and injurious.3,5,14
Serious Zoloft side effects include:
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Serotonin syndrome
- Increased risk of internal bleeding
- Mania (longer than a week) and hypomania (lasts up to several days)
- Extrapyramidal effects (involuntary movements that cannot be controlled)
- Angle-closure glaucoma, other eye disorders, swelling, blindness
- Babies born to mothers taking Zoloft into the 3rd trimester may suffer withdrawals and persistent pulmonary hypertension.
Common Zoloft side effects (in more than 5% and twice the placebo rate) include:
- Dry mouth
- Runny nose
- Decreased appetite
- Dyspepsia (upset stomach, indigestion)
- Hyperhidrosis (abnormal, excessive sweating)
- Ejaculation failure, impotency
- Decreased libido
- Female sexual disorder (pain or lack of arousal during intercourse)
- Syncope (fainting, momentary loss of consciousness)
- Somnolence (drowsiness, sleepiness)
Like other SSRIs, the elimination of Zoloft from the body can be slowed by liver impairment. Long-term use can further intensify and worsen these symptoms and effects. Zoloft is a drug that has a potential for abuse and development of addiction or dependency in some persons, and the potential for Zoloft dependence and other side effects may be elevated when the drug is taken with other substances of abuse such as alcohol or other serotonergic substances.
How Does Addiction to Zoloft Develop?
Definitions have been clarified over the years as more and more pharmaceutical products have demonstrated characteristics that coincide with some (but not all) attributes of addiction. While there can be some who seek a “Zoloft high”, the vast majority of persons would not fit that profile, though some would self-identify with that profile.
It is clear that long-term use of SSRI antidepressants may cause the user to develop a need to take the drug to avoid major withdrawal symptoms that can emerge when it is delayed or discontinued.1 It is the intensity of the withdrawals and the desire to stop them that drives the addiction or dependence in many cases. This phenomenon, similar to all SSRIs is called Zoloft discontinuation syndrome.6
Commonly reported Zoloft withdrawals include:
- Flu-like reactions
- Crying spells
- Electric-shock-like sensations, “brain zaps”, burning or tingling sensations
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Gail instability
- Nausea, vomiting
- Insomnia, sleep disturbance
- Visual disturbances
- Myalgia (muscle aches)
- To avoid these uncomfortable withdrawals, the user feels they must take more of the drug. This is common to all addictions. It is highly recommended that you consult with a doctor, a Zoloft withdrawal management facility, or some other form of medical healthcare that is familiar with SSRI withdrawal before attempting to stop Zoloft. It is easier on the body if the drug can be slowly tapered down and is more tolerable and much safer than a cold turkey approach to stopping the drug.
The pharmaceutical company that manufactures this drug claims that it is non-habit forming. Drug company-sponsored ads repeat this message as often as possible. Clinicians and physicians who dispense the drug may also be encouraged to parrot the message. “Non-addictive, totally safe.”
However, numerous patients have developed Zoloft dependence problems and have experienced serious Zoloft withdrawal symptoms. This particular antidepressant specifically targets serotonin-processing brain cells and also blocks the reuptake of dopamine, though to a lesser degree. In reality, this substance can actually change brain chemistry with chronic use, so that the brain becomes dependent upon the presence of the drug in order to function, and crippled without it.1,2,3,11
Zoloft Addiction, Half-life, and Euphoric Effects of the Drug
Some individuals, who take this medication or other SSRI drugs, report the development of liking the feelings of a lift, or getting a “Zoloft high”. Zoloft has a much slower onset of effect than heroin or other drugs normally associated with the term “high”. Nonetheless, there are clinical reports of developing habits associated with abuse or recreational use, though these are relatively rare.8
Addiction to Zoloft may have a lot to do with this drug’s half-life. The half-life of a drug pertains to the amount of time for half of the chemical to break down (metabolize, become inactive) in the body system. The faster the drug breaks down, the more addictive the drug can be. This is because of the short timeframe for withdrawal symptoms to appear.
This medication has a half-life of about one day (24 hours). Where the liver is compromised, this half-life has extended out to closer to 50 hours.2 At the end of this half-life period is when the negative effects of Zoloft addiction may start to appear. Individuals can become dizzy, depressed, anxious, upset, and irritable when stopping this medication. Sufferers of SSRI antidepressant addiction or dependence may experience vivid dreams or nightmares, nausea, insomnia, electric zap sensations, and akathisia during withdrawal. The user will crave relief from these horrible sensations and will seek the relief and perhaps some measure of euphoria that taking more of the drug provides, at least temporarily, until the next bout of withdrawal symptoms begins. This can become a repeating, agonizing situation, seemingly a trap from which there is no immediate escape. We can help.
Zoloft addiction should be taken seriously, and in the best interest of patients, healthcare professionals often recommend a Zoloft addiction help plan for individuals to avoid the possible side effects of withdrawal and to overcome their dependence.
Zoloft Addiction and Akathisia
Akathisia is a potential side effect of long-term SSRI use and Zoloft addiction. Akathisia is characterized by extreme agitation, unbearable internal and motor restlessness, and anxiousness. Akathisia is commonly thought to be a precursor to aggressive thoughts, aggressive behaviors, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts or ideation. The internal restlessness, agitation, repetitive compulsion to move, and other features of akathisia also occur in cocaine and antipsychotic drug use and are linked with neurotransmitter dysregulation, especially after chronic use of serotonergic and dopaminergic substances.11
This is one of the extremely detrimental effects that can occur in long-term SSRI use, Zoloft addiction, dependence, and too rapid withdrawal.5
Does Zoloft Create Brain Chemicals?
The SNRI’s and the SSRI’s such as Zoloft do not help produce or create any serotonin. Only the body does that. Antidepressants block the reuptake of neurochemicals. Even though many people may have normal levels of serotonin in the brain, long-term use of SSRI medication can create a true serotonin deficiency. A drug-induced serotonin deficiency can occur because the drug causes serotonin molecules to become suspended from re-uptake. In suspension, the molecules become subject to degrading, and over time, will be lost. Eventually, there will be little to no serotonin left for reuptake. It’s very similar to the way that Cocaine may relieve depression but for only a short time. Cocaine uses up all available dopamine, it does not help to produce or create dopamine or any other naturally produced chemical. Our reward neurochemical is dopamine, so when someone experiences a dopamine surge, everything feels rewarding. Eventually, though, dopamine levels will drop, and with chronic drug use, nothing will feel rewarding for the person.
In the case of Zoloft and SSRIs in general, serotonin suspension is the main target. Zoloft also targets dopamine receptors to a degree, more than other SSRIs according to research.9 Drugmakers emphasize that SSRIs cause an accumulation of neurochemicals, for the proposed lift in tone. That is, as outlined above, only part of the story. In clinical trials using humanized mice, it was found that chronic use of SSRIs causes a dramatic depletion of serotonin. The same study found that supplementation with 5HTP, a precursor to natural serotonin production, reversed the condition.10,11
Off-label Uses of Zoloft
Zoloft is approved for the treatment of disorders such as MDD, SAD, OCD, PD, PTSD, and PMDD.
It has become common practice for physicians to prescribe drugs for non-FDA-approved use. A growing list of off-label uses of Zoloft has developed.12,13 These include:
- Eating disorders such as bulimia or binge eating
- Premature ejaculation
- Anxiety disorders
- Migraine headaches
- Diabetic neuropathy pain reduction
In many cases of off-label prescribing, the person has been unable to obtain satisfactory results from what is considered standard care, and their physician may deem the person “treatment-resistant” and so, begins experimenting in desperation with unusual drug choices. There is a cavernous gap between “standard care” and science-based drug-free alternative options, which the Alternative to Meds Center has been providing for over 15 years.
The Alternative to Meds Zoloft Addiction Recovery Program
We focus on discovering the medical and nutritional causes that are contributing to an individual’s depression, insomnia, panic attacks, neuropathy, or other unwanted symptoms. We do not guess, and we do not assume there is no help.
Our holistic addiction treatment methods are centered on safe and gradual holistic tapering under medical supervision, supporting natural mental health via neurotransmitter rehabilitation, purging neurotoxins, restoring a healthy gut-brain axis, herbal medicine, correcting the diet, and addressing nutritional deficiencies.15-19
Treatment methods include lab tests, natural substances to create neurochemistry stabilization, removal of neurotoxins that have accumulated, medication tapering techniques, amino acid therapy IV + NAD treatments, along with counseling of various genres, environmental medicine, and targeted nutritional therapies, Life Coaching, yoga, colon hydrotherapy, therapeutic massage, sauna, peer support programs, Qi Gong, holistic pain management, Equine therapy, art therapy, acupuncture, and other holistic treatments that can combat depression, treat co-occurring disorders, and provide evidence-based, effective, holistic Zoloft addiction help.