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DrasticDreamer's avatar

Zoloft (Sertraline) experiences?

Asked by DrasticDreamer (23983points) September 16th, 2015

As outlined in my last question, I went to the doctor to ask for anxiety medicine because I finally, after years now, got sick of dealing my anxiousness and occasional panic attacks. I was stubborn and refused help for a really long time. I mostly got my panic attacks under control by myself, but the anxiousness just isn’t going away.

Anyway, I was prescribed Zoloft and today is my first day of taking it. I know it’ll be at least a couple of weeks before I see any potential benefits, but is there anyone here who may have taken it in the past, or who is taking it now, that can tell me anything about your experience that you feel is significant?

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Kraigmo's avatar

The Zoloft is your doctor’s guess or informed experiment.
The odds of this being the magic bullet are slim.
It might make you less depressed-anxious but it can substitute that with anger-anxiousness.
You’ll know in a few days whether you can tolerate the drug. Some cannot tolerate it.

If you tolerate it, then in about 2 months you’ll know if it’s breaking you out of a rut or not.
And if it is, then in 6 months you may still be on it. At that point, I highly suggest you re-evaluate the whole thing with introspection about it. Has it made you angrier? Has it made you more social? Does it cause sleep problems? Are its benefits outweighing its side effects?

I think SSRIs are great for breaking people out of a pattern. But staying on them can be very life-limiting. There is a slight Zombie feeling they can give. Some people like that because they hurt so much they want to be numb. But that numbness affects one’s empathy. So is that worth it?

Just know that there is no SSRI that works perfectly. Although they’re obviously a great help to some people as Brooke Shields and others have pointed out. But for most people they do more harm than good.

msh's avatar

I just wrote a response to your question about thyroid problems. Get some milk and cookies before you read it, it’s a long one.
You have an excellent doctor. What she is doing is helping you fix your physiological problem with the thyroid, and also helping you with the anxiety you been feeling. The thyroid affects your anxiousness a great deal. It’s a tricky little gland!
So your doctor is giving you a prescription that helps your mind and body try to handle the wonky stuff in your body that the thyroid has been throwing out for a while.
Once you get a balance for the thyroid by taking Synthroid or a generic, your anxiousness that you have been feeling may be different. Meaning less.
Your body has been on a high gear for a while – it’s been trying to take care of the thyroid and make it work, keep your body running on its normal level, and then the thyroid went up into your head and did a dance there also!
You had said you were trying to control your anxiousness without any help taking care of yourself . It was a good try, but there was no way it was going to work. The thyroid is that powerful.
Your mind has been working hard your body has been working hard and now that the thyroid problem has been figured out, your mind has still been on overdrive and all the feelings that it brings with it. Your anxiousness is going to feel lightened by your thyroid prescription, but your doctor has given you something on top of it -this Zoloft, which will give you a much needed step back from anxiety. Anxiety is so very hard on your body, sweetie.
The Zoloft will probably take six weeks or so as it builds up in your system. That’s just the way it works. I would go with what the doctor is giving you. Her ‘catch’ on the thyroid problem was excellent!
It’s going to reduce the anxiety for you, as I said. You should feel better and better with both medicines. If, after a bit of time on both medicines, you feel tired or such- DON’t! Do Not. No way should you…..( its important- dija catch that ? :)) change doseage or just stop this Zoloft. Do y’hear?
What you do, so your physical brain matter can handle it better- is go in to the doctor and work out what is best for YOU to do. Ok? You don’t fix it- you BOTH do.
And if it turns out that you stay on Zoloft, so what? It’s not something to get hung up about having to take. Your doc and you may find – after awhile, another RX may work better for you. Or a different doseage.
You have such positive things being done so that you can feel so much better mentally and physically. Again as I said in the other post- I am so pleased and excited for you. You’re going to feel so great and so much better- you’ll be amazed.
You GO Girl!!! You’re gonna feel terrific coming up!
:D Take care~~~~~~~~~hugs!

jca's avatar

As your TSH level becomes what it should be, your anxiety just might decrease in time. TSH should take 6 weeks for the medication to do its work, and then your level will be tested again (blood test). Then the doctor may adjust the medication if necessary. You may end up not needing the anti-anxiety medication at all in a few months, with the TSH coming down.

SmashTheState's avatar

I tried Zoloft for about eight months. It fucked with my dreams, making them disjointed and repetitive. It also made me feel like I’d just been hit in the face with a shovel 24/7. Be cautious about trusting your doctor. When I went on Zoloft I was concerned about how it might alter my thoughts, so I told my doctor that he was to cut me off after six months to allow me to return to baseline, so that I could evaluate the difference and decide whether I wanted to keep taking it. He agreed, but simply allowed me to continue taking them. He’d have been happy to let me keep taking them for the rest of my life if I hadn’t decided to stop, myself.

Be aware that these drugs will permanently alter your brain chemistry. Even if you should decide to stop, some of the effects will not. No one at this point understand why anti-depressants work. No one knows about the long-term effects. You might decide, on balance, that the benefits outweight the risks, but it should be your choice. Don’t let anyone, including your doctor(s), buffalo you into altering your brain chemistry without your conscious, existential willingness to do so. I smoke a pipe; I do so in the full awareness of the risks because I happen to enjoy it. If I should get mouth cancer or emphysema, I won’t curse the heavens and wonder what caused it. I’ll know. I chose to roll the dice and crapped out. Likewise, should you choose to use Zoloft, do so in the full awareness of the potential risks and benefits.

keobooks's avatar

My husband takes it with no ill effect. He likes it.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Okay, thank you everyone.

@SmashTheState Exactly – and that’s one of the reasons I have been so hesitant. There’s just too much we don’t know about it still, and it makes me really uncomfortable.

Because my thyroid is weird and my doctor is saying that a lot of my anxiety could absolutely stem from it, I’m not sure how long I’m going to be on the Zoloft. I think I’ll take it for the first month, along with my thyroid medication. After my checkup for both my thyroid and the anxiety medicine, I’m going to tell her I’d like to pause with Zoloft to see if the entire problem stemmed from my thyroid being messed up.

msh's avatar

I can’t help myself.
– reading and forming opinions. OK. Giving stats without being in the situation and knowing the whole equation & all factors? No experience with these RX? Don’t do it.
-giving reactions for YOUR physiology and advising someone based on that only. Don’t do it.

Doctor’s help with all factors considered? Someone whom has worked with others in the same medical situations? Who has background?
Four to six weeks minimum to have an RX, both RX’s, in this case, the doctor has prescribed a dosage that is most likely different than yours! Given to work together for another person?
Step back and think about what you have told someone else.
Again, someone who’s not you. A medical situation is involved.
Why in the world would others shoot someone in the foot before they even begin?
Think about it.
Going on and off pills without the necessary time for one’s body to adjust. Or not working WITH the experienced Doctor’s choice of RX working towards a positive outcome for another? A change in RX- really- isn’t that something to be decided by people in it, instead of you?
Do you see how it effects any iota of a doubt in a person’s mind?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@msh No worries. Anything I do will be discussed with my doctor so I can get her opinions. I really like her (more than any doctor I’ve had experience with), because she’s extremely helpful, informative, and excellent at listening to what does and doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I sleep walk like crazy. My doctor asked if I wanted to try something, like Zoloft. I asked a friend on here that had tried it. She said no way, if I think the dreams and sleepwalking are bad now, just try that and I’ll go nuts. So I tie my arm to the bed each night. Low tech, and I still get out at times. My brain is always going 100 miles an hour

jca's avatar

@DrasticDreamer: It’s going to take at least six weeks to get the TSH level adjusted after the medications. Then after the doctor gets that new blood test, it may still be too high or may be too low, so he very likely will have to issue a new prescription and then test again six weeks after that. In the meantime, whatever symptoms you may be experiencing from the slow thyroid (possible symptoms include constipation, dry hair, dry skin, depression, weight gain), will take more time to go away. I would not count on one month to try to end the antidepressant.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@jca Okay, thank you for letting me know it would take at least 6 weeks. I’ll just talk to my doctor and ask her when she thinks, if my anxiety is caused by my thyroid problem, is a good time to stop the Zoloft to check.

JLeslie's avatar

I need to look at your thyroid question, and then I might come back to this one, but my initial answer is if the Zoloft seems to help them great, if you believe it isn’t helping, worsening things, or giving you negative side effects, trust your gut! Some people need to try two or three medications before they find the one that works for them.

JLeslie's avatar

After seeing the thyroid Q I am going to say that I personally (this is just my opinion for myself) would not start the Zoloft at this moment. You have out it off for a long time, and I would say addressing your thyroid is more important and taking thyroid drugs will be screwy for a while, and if you take both drugs at once you won’t know what’s going on.

Also, I want to emphasize that I really really want you to test your thyroid again within 4 weeks of starting your thyroid meds. Don’t wait 6–8 weeks if that is what they are recommending. At 4 weeks you will not get a proper reading of the final level your thyroid will be at the drug dose your taking, but what it will do is if you are already moving into a hyper state you will catch it before it is really bad. It takes weeks to adjust thyroid, so every time you are under medicated or over medicated you probably have been like that for a few weeks, and then it takes a few weeks to get to normal. What this means is most thyroid patients spend 2–3 months not in normal range when their medication dose isn’t right. A quarter of the year! This is why frequent testing initially is important, and in the future if you seem to be very stable in a dose you still should go once every 6 months for a blood test.

Also, regarding only waiting 3–4 weeks for your first blood test after starting thyroid meds, really pay attention to how you feel. If you feel much better get a blood test, so you know the numbers you feel best at and can shoot for that as your normal. It might take you many months to get in tune with your symptoms related to your thyroid. Many endocrinologist like TSH between 1 and 2. Below 2 I’m not good. Can’t sleep well, heart is pounding, heart rate up to 80 at times just sitting in the couch. My hair is falling out, my eyes are dry. I’m very symptomatic. My ideal is 2–3.5. Above that my blood pressure gets high. That’s me, everyone is different. That’s why you need to know you, and your doctor most likely will not be good at figuring it out or knowing or charting when you felt best. Your doctor might be good about letting you test more frequently, and care about your subjective assessment of how good you feel, which is great, but you need to get familiar with your numbers. At minimum your TSH.

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