Sertraline Withdrawal .. Does it go away?

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Hi. I just wondered if anyone had been through sertraline withdrawal and got better? I look on the internet and can't find anything positive about ssri withdrawal, particularly sertraline. I guess when people stop posting, it means they've got better. All I seem to see is posts from people who've been suffering for months or longer. I just want some hope.

I was on citalopram last year (first ever anti depressant) and came off it after 2 months because I had terrible reactions to it. A week later I was put on sertraline and reacted terribly to that too (I'm still suffering the side effects).

I took my last sertraline 3 weeks ago. My top dose was 100mg and I was going nuts. I dropped down to 50mg for about 5 weeks, 25mg for 2 weeks and 25mg every other day for a week.

Since then (and during titration) I have been having brain zaps all day every day and every time I move my eyes. I'm more exhausted than I've ever been in my life. I have sweats. I have worse sinus problems than I've ever had. I have loads of pressure behind and around my left eye. I can barely look at the television or read. I have long crying bouts. All this on top of the existing hideous and ongoing side effects which are worse than withdrawal.

I was on sertraline for a total of about 3.5 months and have been off 3.5 weeks. I've heard the average for withdrawal symptoms is around 6 weeks but can be much longer. Given my extreme sensitivity to medication, I'm afraid that I may be one if the unlucky ones. I was much better before I took any meds.

I'm taking loads of fish oil and magnesium, eating healthily and drinking lots of water. I was trying to be positive but am becoming less positive by the day.

Anyone else experienced this and recovered? I can't bear the thought of going on any more meds because I can't tolerate them.

Thank you.

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  • Posted

    Hello, I'm still on sertraline so can't advise on withdrawal but I'm curious to know if your doctor suggested you came off? Mine told me I had to stay on sertraline for at least 6 months from when it started working - which was after 8 weeks of taking it.

    You weren't on very long before starting your withdraw so was just wondering if that's to do with it? May just be coincidence.

    I've been on 50mg consistently for 4 months now and if I still feel better was told to start weaning off in summer. I'm on them for anxiety, stress and low mood - due to a stressful situation.

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    • Posted

      Just checking if your symptoms hve eased any? I've decided to come off these for a second time having gone back on them against my better judgement. I've been taking 50mg daily for three years and gradually withdrawn over 4 weeks down to 25mg every 2 days. It's now been 5 days since I took 25mg and hoping to stick it out it feel awful. The zaps are horrendous. I'm not sleeping and feel so drained.

      Praying I can last and not take again but don't know if I can go on like this with the demands of looking after 8 children.

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    • Posted

      Hi

      i am currently tapering from being on 50 mg sertraline for two years.

      my first attempt was far too quick - I was advised by my GP to go from 50 to 25 for two weeks then stop, you can imagine the horrible withdrawals.

      then I read the advice on this thread to reduce by 10% for a month then again by 10% of the remaining tablet and so on. I've been doing that for the last 3-4 moths and am down to 20mg and so far no withdrawal symptoms.

      so to avoid the nasty withdrawal tapering has to be very slow over many months, hope this helps

      good luck X 

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    • Posted

      minxtress, are you doing this with your doctor's supervision?  Your taper is way too fast (usually doctor ordered, as they don't know how to get people off these meds, only ON).  If you want to succeed this time, you need to slow it way down and take matters in your own hands.  I would recommend reinstating to the last dose that you cut to and stabilizing there for at least a month before moving forward with a very slow taper.

      This may mean getting a liquid version of your med to dose with a syringe, or making your own.  First, investigate how to taper by seeing the topic Reducing ADs using a 10% taper method in the following thread:

      https://patient.info/forums/discuss/depression-resources-298570

      Going to fast is sure to fail because the withdrawal gets so bad and lasts way longer than the doctors will admit, months and even years.  The nervous system physiologically changes in the presence of these drugs, pushing back against the imbalance they impose.  The nervous system likes homeostasis.  Unfortunately, though it can change back, it takes a long time and the symptoms while waiting can be intolerable.  So, the next best option is to drop down so slowly that the system can make small changes as you go, while hopefully not causing unbearable symptoms.  By the time you jump off of a tiny dose, the hope is that most of the changing back has occured.  There may still be withdrawal after jumping off, but it should be liveable.

      Good luck! :-))))

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    • Posted

      I am so happy for you, Tezes!  So glad that you followed that plan.  Now, be very careful from here on out becuase it is still easy for the wheels to come off the bus! People get impatient at the end and try to speed up, with very bad results.  Or they jump off from too high a dose as far as the nervous system is concerned.  The reason the last part is so hard is because of of an interesting fact about many SSRIs/SNRIs.

      At the minimum effective dose of these drugs, the neuron receptors are still blocked by about 80% which is a huge amount.  The lower you get below that, small dosage changes cause huge drops in receptor occupancy; it falls off precipitously!  So, tiny dosage changes can cause big drops in occupancy which means destabilization and symptoms!

      So, easy does it!  I wish you luck - you will get there!

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    • Posted

      Thanks Betsy 

      I wish everyone would take in advice, there are so many new posts concerning sertraline where I have tried to give advice on tapering as you have given but some people just think you are trying to discourage people from taking it,

      oh well you can't help everyone but so far so good for me 

      I will definitely carry on the tapering regime until I'm off completely

      i will update this page once I'm off or if I run into any problems

      xx

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    • Posted

      Hi, I was given your name on this forum as I'm suffering quite badly from withdrawal.

      I hope it's OK.

      I have been on citalopram for 8 years then put on sertaline for 2. I was advised by my doctor to half my 100 mg dose 2 months ago. I'm still on the 50mg and have been suffering on and off from extreme anxiety, panic attacks, mild anxiety, dizziness, electric shocks, bouts of crying, heart palpitations. These symptoms change every few days and I can can have a few good days. I'm currently signed off work. I worried about going back up as been on this does for 2 months. Just want to know how long it will last. And then I can start the 10% tapering. Doctors don't understand or help. I am extremely lucky to have such a supportive husband and family.

      Thank you for reading x

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    • Posted

      I know, I've run into the same resistance.  I try to only focus on threads where people are trying to come off but going too fast and are suffering or destined to. I used to approach the ones that clearly had suffered from withdrawal and were going back on, needing the drug they say, but it usually falls on deaf ears so to speak.  I'm glad you are having success and that you're out there helping me share the know-how with those who are open.

      I do feel that people should known what is going on with these drugs, and then if they want to continue or feel that is the best option, that's ok, but at least they can then go on with open eyes.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your comments and encouragement it really helps. I have learned a lot from your posts about this drug and I will be glad to be off them (eventually) xxx
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    • Posted

      Hi Emily, 

      I'm sorry you are suffering so much from that 50% cut your doctor had you do!  I wish they would get educated on these matters but they are in denial!  Ok, so your nervous system is in chaos from such a big cut and I really can't tell you how long this will go on for.  The way tapering should be done is as you now know to make small cuts that the nervous system hardly registeres, and then letting the system get used to that new level before making another cut.  The recommendation is 10% of the previous dose every four weeks, sometimes even 6 weeks.   It is very individual with some people finding they can cut a little more often, such as 3 weeks, while other may only be able to handle 5% cuts.  It's a harm-reduction plan with the aim being to keep you functional and comfortable as you come off.

      You are still in the time frame where an updose would alleviate your suffering, but you wouldn't want to go all the way back up to 100 mg because your system has done some healing.

      My recommendation is to go to the forum where the 10% thread came from and sign on there, because the mods know far more than me about how much of an updose to do.  What I can say is that this 50% cut could cause reverberations for months to come since you were on this med for a long time and your system is very unhappy right now and being slow to adapt back.  The brain and nervous system actually change physiologically in the presence of that 100 mg for all that time, integrating the drug's action into the operation.  Now it is freaking out trying to figure out what to do now that half the drug is gone!

      Most folks resist the idea of reinstating part of the dose because they don't want to go backwards, but this is probably your best bet, followed by stabilization and then resuming a very slow taper.  So, see the 10% topic in this thread and sign on over there; they'll help you if you havne't made your way there, yet.

      https://patient.info/forums/discuss/depression-resources-298570

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    • Posted

      Hi betsy. I have been on sertraline 100mg for  around a year and before that  was on citalopram for around 5-6 years. i had been doing well for a long time on the sertraline and decided to ween myself off. As with most people the dr told me to go on 50mg for a month, then 25mg for a month then stop. i was fine going to 50mg and even to 25mg but after i stopped the 25mg after a few days i would feel a bit sick so took another 25mg tab every few days until the sickness went away, but by the time i completely stopped i started experiencing some anxiety and depression. ( i suffer with ocd) and one worry led to another and the anxiety and panic just got worse and worse and i didnt understand what was happening and felt like i had got sucked down a dark hole of fear and panic and obsessive worries. Then i read about withdrawal and wondered if this was my problem. the week i came off was also when my period was and i believe i have a hormonal imbalance anyway and am always more anxious at this time of the month so this prob made withdrawal worse too.

      I only stayed off tablets completely about a week before deciding i felt too bad and went back on 25mg for a few days but the anxiety and panic were still really severe so i saw my GP who said to go back to 50mg and try and level out on that for a few months. So i have been on 50mg for around 3 weeks now and am better than when i was on 25mg but stil experiencing lots of anxiety and more panic attacks than i did before and my worries are constantly switching from one to another.

      Im worried because i dont want to have to go backwards again to 100mg but think maybe i should give myself longer on 50mg and hope i eventually level out? i was ok on 50mg when coming off but now it doesnt seem to be enough, maybe because i have disturbed my system taking different doses.

      Do you have any advice?

      thanks

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    • Posted

      Hi, im new here, ten days was all i could do on this at 50mg. Now trying to discontinue, would it be best to go down to 25 for a while, then 12.5 then off?  I know there will be side effects but i had anxiety and depression before i started this poison.
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    • Posted

      You have lo let the symptoms be what they are.

      I use wine sometimes and sleeping pills. I am a man of 50 something For headaches and nose problems then I use powerful parecemole and keep to the dosage limits. Ive explained to my children what I am doing and they just get on with it. My wife has gone through psycholtic episodes and has gone through biploar. So just mange and deal with what in front of you.I am coiming off sertaline third week off it now.

      Yes prayer can help but being real about your experience and how you relate to god also. You need to make your beliefs part of your experience. The zapping only gradually stops and is worst when I go to sleep or let my mind wander or concentrate on it as an experience.

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    • Posted

      Hi I'm curious when you switched from the first med to sertraline was it an awful switch? I'm thinking of switching from sert to fluoxetine

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your response. I was wondering if you might know where I can find more information about the effects of long-term effects and subsequent withdrawal effects. I have tried stopping sertraline several times and never realized one should taper off so extremely slowly. I have always just rushed back into taking the medication with the assumption I must need it because I feel I'm losing it..when I've tried to stop taking the medication. However I recently stopped a popular ADHD medication that after enduring horrible side effects from the withdrawal symptoms, I have realized how much better off the medication I am than I was on the medication. I am trying to have a more holistic approach to my health working with Natropathic and nutrition specialists and want to explore how I feel without so many pharmaceuticals, but online information seems heavily biased towards pharmaceuticals and the opinions of western medicine philosophies. Thanks and blessings.

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    • Posted

      Could I just ask, I have been on 50mg sertraline for 8 days and 100mg for 2 days and I want to stop because of the increased anxiety. do you think I can just come off now or should I reduce the dose to 50mg again for a few days then 25mg for a few days then 12.5 for a few days before stopping?

       

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    • Posted

      I had same problem, couldnt take the anxiety and nausea that seetraline brought, managed three weeks then just stopped.  Still cant find any antidepressamt to work
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    • Posted

      Hey Ann. I hope your doing ok off the Setraline.

      I too stopped taking Setraline after just 3 weeks because of horrific side effects. For me it was bad Diarrhea which went on for 5 days after stopping the drug. Can i ask if you experienced withdrawals after 3 weeks on it? My doc tells me I can't be getting withdrawals but I've gone off SSRI's before and know how it feels. I was on 25mg for a week then 50mg for 2 weeks.

      Thanks a million,

      Emerald Lupue

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    • Posted

      Oh god really? How long were you on it? I took half a 50mg setraline today as had awful brain zaps and dizziness. The high doses of omega 3 seem to help a bit. Have you tried that? Doctors consistently downplay the withdrawals from these meds.
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    • Posted

      Yes they have a lot to answer for.

      i cant use omega 3 due to taking warfarin, it thins your blood.  Pity as i would have used it.

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    • Posted

      I have just stopped it which I shouldn't have done I feel really bad and had a loss of memory yesterday which was really scary but have felt so bad on it so thought  id just deal with the  withdrawal and come off it I think you have to be a strong person and brave to just stop I would come off slowly this drug has  ruined my life for the last 6 months so I just thought  stop it and deal with everything it trough's   at me I just think for  you to listen to what people  say this site has saved me today come off slowly

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    • Posted

      I need some advice please - I was on Lustral 50mg then reduced to 25mg due to side effects.

      I decided I wanted to come of them completely so my Doctor told me to take the rest of the 25mg tablets I had every second day until they finished.

      So I did this & now for the past 5 days suffering very bad with withdrawls.

      I feel like I was taken off them far too soon.

      Any advice please???

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    • Posted

      Hello, 

      How are you now? Since you were down to 25mg, I am assuming that you came off sertraline altogether? Have you anything to add, or advise others about, who are embarking upon a gradual withdrawal. I am certain that this would be welcomed by many and very important to their approach to re-establishing a sertraline-free life. Thank you.

       

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    • Posted

      Hello Emily,

      I hope that you are feeling better and have managed to wean yourself off sertraline. I have gotten it down to 100mg from 150mg, going very gradually. Roughly over three months. At 100mg I have experienced more side effects than when I was on the higher dose. I am assuming that this is part of the withdrawal experience. It is no picnic and it fluctuates. Are you able to share an update with the forum, which I am sure would be extremely valuable and encouraging for all who are enduring the process. Thank you.

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    • Posted

      Hello everyone, my dr perscrbed Zolft for me approximately 3 years ago. I was greatful at the time. Not knowing the hell afterwards. I was under such stress my heart would feel like I was having a heart attack, and so much more. But I want to get to the withdrawal .... I was prescribed 50mg, then 100mg. and then 150 mg without "EVER" being seen by my dr after my intial visit. All it took was a phone call. Anyways , I gained over 40 pounds. My stress was where I can now handle it myself. I looked up side effects and felt I would of been better off with illegal drugs ( not really ). But what these drs are failing to tell us, these anti depression drugs are just as bad, if " not " worse. I tried to get off of my zoloft, one day on zolft one day off. I was so dizzy, disoriented, bouncing off walls, unbalanced, insomia, slurred speech, migraines, chills, acheing joints.TERRIBLE.... So, I was went right back on my zolft . But I didn't give up. Should I go to the same dr who " never" told me about such withdrawal symtoms. I don't think so. I am in the third month of weening myself off....i started by cutting ONE of my tablets in 1/4 , so I would take my two tablets and the third would cut into 1/4 pieces and take the third. I stay on each dose approximately 2 weeks. I am now down to ONE tablet a day ( 50mg) that's cut in half 25mg....on my own this time absolutely NO side effects at all. I will " never" take zoloft again. " ever". It's funny how you get the same withdrawal as a drug addict. Thankfully, I wasn't around my family, they would of had me in a treatment facility over my dr " not" informing me of eventually coming off of these anti depression meds. Good luck everyone. I certainly am " not " a professional and certainly " am not " telling anyone what works for me, would work for you. Always go to a professional. I was prescribed by my ob/gyn. But am working back to a life I once had, living without medication , trying to lose weight, oh I picked up smoking cigarettes because I was told by smoking it would decrease my appetite. Now another fight....smh

      Good luck everyone.....

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    • Posted

      I have to agree with you, I am having a similar experience.  although I have seen my doc three times in three months and we have discussed this at length. maybe Zoloft works and makes some people able to function and manage their depression and anxiety.  I was started on 25 mg because I was having such bad chest pains from anxiety, that I was drinking every day because it was the only thing that relieved it.  within 3 days the pain was gone but I was still struggling...I had a daughter that left for boot camp and a husband having a major medical issue and it was too much for me to handle. so I was bumped up to 50 mg, which is still relatively small dose, but for me too much.  I couldn't sleep, I was rocking in the bed uncontrollably and my kids were asking me why, and I didn't even realize I was doing it. I couldn't sit still. I felt whacked out of my mind. It was awful and I wanted off of it!  But I felt the same the same as you said.....if I missed more than one dose, I was a mess! Dizzy and zoned out and just felt out of my head. and how did that make me any different than a drug addict that was desperate for a pill just to keep them from being sick and being able to function? I finally went back to the doc and said I was done with this.  I will have to learn to manage my stress in a healthy way because meds are not for me.  It will take some major lifestyle changes like making sure I make time to exercise and take care of myself and if that means I have to leave the laundry and dishes...so be it. Being a stay home mom makes it real easy to not have a strict routine, but I realize that it is another lifestyle change I need to make to stay healthy.  Im hoping the dizziness and confusion Im still feeling not that Ive tapered off and am totally done will go away soon. Meds are life savers for some people, but not everyone.  I hope you are feeling better, and let me know how the smoking is working for weight loss....at least that is something I could quit without being a mess....

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    • Posted

      Hello Tracy090909,

      Yes Zoloft is " not worth it ". Theses Drs that perscribe Zoloft should be held accountable. I never was perscribed my a therapist or my primary care. But rather my gynecologist...Yes gynecologist....smh....well my ob/gyn perscribed zoloft for me and it seemed to help at first, though I thought. Then last month I phoned in for my refill, yes she would fill it out and give me 5 or 6 refills. I went to 150 mg... It is pure hell coming off of this med. I was going through a lot of major health issues, including tending to my husbands mother with dementia, and his dying brother stage 4 stomach and esophagus cancer that had spread to his brain. Finding him dead, then dealing with my mother in law. This was a day in and day out situation 24/7... For a family that ....well thats another story...Anyways she too since has passed. I decided it's time to get myself off of this garbage. Or continue taking it. ,It's like your stuck between a rock and a hard place. Well since my ob/gyn is no longer there and the new drs think you can just stop taking these meds are out of their mind. I start gradually weening off....I no longer wanted this medication that does more harm then good. So right now, I went from three ... 50mg a day...totally 150mg per day. To a half of a half. Then starting Monday I will cut that in half for two weeks to a month , then hopefully I will be done. I feel great...I feel like something is crawling on me from time to time. It's a shame what this medication does , and more of a shame that drs perscribe these meds and say " absolutely NOTHING " about the withdrawal. Smoking isn't really a issue for me,it's something just to" try " to get my sanity back...I smoke between one and three to four ( no more ) cigarettes a day. My quit date is September 1st.. Thanks for responding .Hope your feeling better as well Tracy. If you need to talk to someone who has been there. Please feel free to contact me. And I can give you my personal email.....

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    • Posted

      Im sorry to hear about your struggles...and it surprises me that your gyn would prescribe it and give you so many refills without referring you to a primary care for follow up or a therapist.  I think I was fortunate in that aspect....the person I saw was not my primary care but a CNP because I just wanted to get in.   I felt that I was just going downhill so rapidly, and my only fix was to self medicate with alcohol. I got an appt with this CNP in the same office as my primary. And she really did take the time to listen and try and understand. and along with medication, she insisted that I need to talk to a counselor, meditate, exercise, take vitamins.....etc.  And at the next appt a month later when I still was feeling down and agitated, she increased the Zoloft, but still stressed the importance of taking care of myself. But 6 weeks after that I was a mess. I know 50 mg was a low dose but it was too much for me. You are right about the docs not mentioning the withdrawal.  I know that Zoloft may be a life saver for some. I have a relative that was suicidal until he got on the right meds....Zoloft being one. and his life is completely different because of it.  but for others like us, its not the answer and it has made things worse.  No one told me that even after being off this stuff for 11 days now, I would still feel brain fogs and dizzy, and this is going to last 6 weeks! its sounds like this isn't for you either and I hope that you can get off it with minimal side effects. feel free to send me your email..its nice to hear from someone dealing with the same issues.

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    • Posted

      I would recommend getting advice from the physician that prescribed it to you. the length of time you have been on it will be a factor.

      for me, I was on 25 mg for 6 weeks then 50 mg for 6 weeks. and I hated how I felt on it. I cut my dose from 50mg to 25mg for 7 days, then 25mg every other day for 7 days and stopped.  it was relatively easy.  I haven't felt much as far as side effects other than feeling dizzy and tired in the late afternoon.

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    • Posted

      Hello Tracy,

      My email is

      Yes, I get a little brain fog and tired in the afternoon as well. That is some of the side effects of first getting on zoloft and coming off. But even after being completely off of zoloft. After a month or two you still will get side effects from being on this medication. I was on 50mg, then 100mg, and then 150mg...for over 3 years without ever having a follow-up. Yes just refills...then increased dosages. After my calling asking did I need such. Thinking it would help. I have did a lot of research . I meant " a lot " of weening myself off. I am NOT in the medical field. However, upon reading reviews. It stated weening off by yourself wasn't reccommended. But after calling my gynecologist , I was told this dr was no longer with them.Hmmmm....so where was she ? I received a nasty response. She was no longer with this office. After calling the office over five times. I was never getting my meds, but rather a b.s answers. I was then weening myself off, at the time of the call. So I had a lot of extras to ween myself off...( thankfully).

      So, I have been weening myself off gradually...A little bit each month and now I am literally down less then a half of a half. Hopefully, by the end of this month. I will be Zoloft free, no thanks to any physicians. Good luck anyone and everyone who needs zoloft. Please be careful. And take if you really need this medication. Bless everyone !

      I am so happy that I came across this site. It really helps speaking with others who are or have went through similar withdrawals on this medication....be safe and god bless !

      Moderator comment: I have removed the email address as we do not publish these in the forums. If users wish to exchange contact details please use the Private Message service.

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