When it comes to taking antidepressants, there are many questions surrounding the safety and effectiveness of these medications. One medication that has been in use for decades is Zoloft (sertraline), an antidepressant used to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While this medication has been proven effective in treating depression and other mood disorders, a common question is whether or a person can develop a Zoloft addiction.
Let’s take a closer look.
What is Zoloft?
Zoloft is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical messenger in the brain that affects mood and behavior. Increasing levels of serotonin can help to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Zoloft is a prescription drug to help relieve symptoms of major depressive disorder, panic disorder, OCD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health conditions. It is available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, liquid form, or extended-release tablets.
When you take Zoloft, it will take some time before you notice any major positive changes. It can take up to twelve weeks before you experience the full benefits of this medication.
How Does Zoloft Affect Someone?
When someone takes Zoloft, it can help to improve their mood and reduce anxiety and other symptoms associated with certain mental health conditions by increasing the amount of serotonin in their brain. However, it can also have some side effects, such as drowsiness, nausea, diarrhea, and changes in sexual desire or performance. If these side effects persist or become worse, it is important to speak with your doctor about alternative treatments.
Is Zoloft a Narcotic?
No, Zoloft is not a narcotic. While it is an antidepressant and can be habit-forming if abused, it does not produce the same euphoric “high” as narcotics such as heroin or other opiates.
Does Zoloft Get You High?
Another common question people have about Zoloft is whether or not it can make them feel “high.” The answer is no; Zoloft does not get you high and will not produce any kind of euphoric sensations.
In fact, the effects of this medication are more likely to be subtle changes in your mood and outlook rather than an intense feeling of euphoria. While Zoloft can improve your mood and reduce symptoms of mental health conditions, it will not make you feel “high” in any way.
If you have a history of substance abuse, or regularly use recreational psychoactive drugs, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting to take Zoloft or any other SSRI drugs. Many drugs, such as MDMA, can interact with your prescribed medications.
Another consideration to make when talking to a doctor about antidepressants like Zoloft is if you are taking any additional medications that contain serotonin. When on a combination of substances that increase serotonin levels in the brain (e.g. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, anti-migraine medications, certain pain medications, anti-nausea medication, herbal supplements, etc…) then you may be at risk for developing serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome symptoms can range from mild to severe that typically develop within several hours of starting a new serotonin medication. Some symptoms include:
- Psychological symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, confusion
- Neurologic symptoms such as tremors, agitation, muscle rigidity
- Physical symptoms such as headache, fever, and in more severe cases seizures
If you start developing severe symptoms after taking a new medication, it is important to contact your prescribing provider immediately.
Is Zoloft Addictive?
Zoloft addiction is rare because Zoloft abuse is rare. A person cannot use Zoloft to get high. However, when discussing the potential for Zoloft addiction, or the potential for addiction to any prescription medication, it is important to distinguish between addiction and dependence. Addiction usually refers to the negative behaviors related to substance abuse, while dependence usually implies the potential for negative side effects upon quitting a certain substance or medication. So, for a person to have a Zoloft addiction, they would need to abuse Zoloft and exhibit signs of addiction such as requiring higher doses in order to achieve the same effects as initially experienced, or obsessively seeking the drug.
Although Zoloft addiction is unlikely, taking Zoloft for more than a few days will likely result in Zoloft dependency. This is because when a person stops taking the antidepressant, they are likely to experience Zoloft withdrawal symptoms. When it comes to Zoloft dependency, there are two main factors to consider: physical dependence and psychological dependence.
Physical dependence occurs when someone’s body becomes accustomed to a particular substance, and will experience unpleasant side effects when that person stops taking the substance. Psychological dependence, however, occurs when someone’s mental health relies on a certain substance in order to control symptoms or improve mood.
Zoloft dependence is rare. However, those with a history of substance abuse or addiction treatment should talk with a medical professional before taking any psychoactive prescription medications.
Zoloft addiction is also very rare, but if you find yourself taking more than your prescribed dose, and experiencing negative side effects, you may require addiction treatment. Taking too much Zoloft to deal with a mental health disorder can lead to increased anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression, or serotonin syndrome. If you take Zoloft, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and never take more than the recommended dose.
Can You Withdraw From Zoloft?
Yes, it is possible to withdraw from taking Zoloft. Zoloft withdrawal symptoms are common and if you’ve been taking Zoloft for an extended period of time and want to stop taking it, the best course of action is to speak with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to help you slowly reduce the dosage of Zoloft.
Your doctor may suggest tapering off the medication over the course of several weeks or months depending on the dose that you are taking. This gradual process allows your body and brain to adjust to changes in dosage.
Tapering is done by slowly reducing the amount of Zoloft you take each day or week. For example, your doctor may start by lowering your dose by 10-20% every two weeks until you reach the lowest dose possible. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and never stop taking Zoloft abruptly without consulting with a healthcare professional first.
It’s also important to remember that Zoloft can cause disorientation, fatigue, and confusion when withdrawn suddenly. This is why it’s important to only stop taking this medication under the supervision of a doctor or mental health provider.
Is It Hard to Get Off of Zoloft?
Fortunately, the effects of SSRI withdrawal are usually temporary, and most people don’t experience any long-term effects from stopping their medication. That said, it can still be a difficult process, and it’s important to be prepared and have a plan in place with your doctor or mental health provider before you begin tapering off the medication.
It’s also important to remember that every person reacts differently to medications, so the withdrawal process can vary for each individual. If you have any concerns or questions about the process, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting.
How to Cope with Zoloft Withdrawl
There are several strategies out there that can help you cope with SSRI withdrawal symptoms. Here are a few tips that can help:
- Take your time. Don’t rush the process, and try to reduce your dosage too quickly. Tapering off slowly is key to avoiding any serious withdrawal symptoms.
- Stay connected with friends and family for emotional support. Having people around you who understand what you’re going through and can offer emotional support is important.
- Follow a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep is key to managing withdrawal symptoms.
- Stay in tune with your body and emotions. Pay attention to any changes you experience so you can notify your doctor if necessary.
- Seek help from a mental health professional. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty managing symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out for help at a treatment facility.
When you are working through this process, remember to maintain patience and be kind to yourself. SSRI withdrawal can be uncomfortable, but with the right support, it is possible to manage symptoms and get through it. If your symptoms persist for longer than the doctors say, or they grow in severity, seek medical attention to ensure you are not suffering from a severe form of SSRI discontinuation syndrome.
Ultimately, it’s important to always follow your doctor’s instructions and only stop taking medication under the supervision of a professional.
Alternative Forms of Treatment
If you are concerned about the side effects of Zoloft for your mental health disorders or prefer to explore other treatment options, there are several alternatives available, including lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, supplements, TMS therapy, or ketamine therapy.
What is TMS Therapy?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment option for people with depression. It involves applying gentle magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain responsible for mood. TMS therapy is twice as effective and has fewer side effects than medication.
When you experience depression, it can be difficult to find the motivation to make lifestyle changes or engage in therapy. TMS can help break through this barrier and offer relief from depressive symptoms quickly.
What is Ketamine Therapy?
Ketamine therapy works by altering the brain’s neurotransmitter chemicals and restoring serotonin balance, which in turn helps improve mood and reduce depressive symptoms. Ketamine therapy for depression uses a low dose of ketamine delivered intravenously, an FDA-approved anesthetic. Unlike traditional antidepressant medications, ketamine works very quickly – within hours or even minutes.
For example, if you’re dealing with depression and anxiety, ketamine therapy can help reduce symptoms of both. It has also been found to be effective for people who have not had success with other treatments, such as SSRIs or psychotherapy.
At the end of the day, Zoloft is not an addictive medication when taken as prescribed by a doctor. However, it’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently to medications, and psychological dependence can occur if not taken correctly. If you believe you may be developing a dependence on Zoloft, speak with your doctor or mental health provider immediately.
Choosing an alternative form of treatment – particularly for treatment-resistant depression or panic attacks – can prove extremely helpful for those who have struggled with Zoloft abuse or other forms of addiction in the past. If you or someone you love is looking to improve their serotonin levels, get started with a psychiatrist at Neuro Wellness Spa to learn more about your mental health treatment options today.