started sertraline, terrified by side effects

Posted , 8 users are following.

Hi all, sorry for the long post,

I have strong anxiety when it comes to posting on online forums - in fact this is my first time.

I started medication for anxiety and depression for the first time 2 days ago - sertraline 50mg. The first day was fine - I didn't cry nearly as much, felt relatively calm and only really experienced some nausea. After taking my second tablet yesterday, however, it's been horrendous. I did not take a tablet today.

I can't sleep because of the constant heart palpitations - the dread/fear in my chest just won't leave me, and I can feel my heartbeat even more when I lie down. I can't bear when it speeds up. I'm exhausted, tearful (crying is back tenfold - I have always been a very emotionally sensitive person and cry a lot) and terrified I might die, I can just feel the anxiety wash over me, over and over. I do have health anxiety, and struggle to even take paracetomal sometimes. I keep obsessively checking my pulse, as well as using my phone's heart rate monitor. It keeps ranging from as low as 60 to 100. I know this is the opposite of what I should be doing, and am trying to control myself.

I did go back to the doctor's about this today. They switched me to 20mg of citralopam and 40mg of propranolol for my heart. I've taken neither yet, though, I'm just too terrified for even more side effects, and possibly dying.

I'm sorry if a similar post exists - maybe even on the first page - I'm just really, really scared.

I just want to know if anyone here has been through similar. I want to sleep so badly but every time I lie down, I can't. I'm so scared. I am close to calling NHS 24.

Thank you to whoever reads all of this, and replies. It means the world. I just want to get my life back.


0 likes, 13 replies

13 Replies

  • Posted

    Update: I am very close to taking the propranolol as I am sobbing a lot and just want this feeling in my chest to go away. I'm terrified I'm close to having a heart attack because of all of this. However I read they can disturb sleep, and I'm exhausted. Can anyone tell me their experience with taking this medication before sleeping, or alongside sertraline. I am so tired.

    • Posted

      I also take propranolol for the last 40+ years. It’s wonderful. It has a calming effect. It blocks anxiety in your brain.  

      After you take it check your pulse in about an hour. It does slow it down.  Which can help so much.  Since you are so sensitive like me I always started with half a dose to see how my body reacts. 

      But you might talk to your dr about it. 

    • Posted

       Hi Deborah,

      We have the same name, what a nice coincidence!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, I appreciate it so much. I managed to calm down for a few hours but the symptoms are coming back. Your reply has reassured me enough to try taking the propranolol. I'm still terrified but I really don't want to go through this again so soon. I never get dizzy, so am worried about how I'll cope with that.

      Thank you again!

    • Posted


      I sat with the tablet on my knee, staring it down (or maybe vice versa) for half an hour before I could swallow it. At first I could feel the fear and paranoia crash through me, and almost immediate nausea. It didn't take my fluttery chest away completely, but I had been approaching 20 hours on no sleep. I was also quite twitchy from the exhaustion! What a rough few days, lol!

      Within around 20 minutes I was beginning to feel the positive effects. My pulse had slowed, like you said! I'm sleeping in my family member's room right now for peace of mind. Every 10 minutes I'd just raise my arm like a zombie to signal for pulse check, and he'd say it was absolutely fine. I also checked it myself sometimes, and it definitely was slower but still irregular. Strange feeling the anxiety trying to fight through despite the beta blockers. The dizziness wasn't too bad, I felt pretty chilled out minus the exhaustion. It took about an hour to get to this stage though. Sleep took a while to come, but it did. I got around 4-5 hours, with vivid dreams, but when I woke up I thought, "I'm waking up? I actually slept?" smile

      Overall I feel a lot better today. Keeping myself distracted so hopefully it lasts.

      I'm worried about what to do if I start to feel intense anxiety again during the day, since I did take the tablet at 1am last night. The doctor's prescription was once a day instead of three times. I know my anxiety will be set off again today, be it through worrying about the remaining arrhythmia or just because.

      I feel like I've typed such a long response here, but I hope someone else worried about taking propranolol on top of sertraline might read this thread and feel even slightly reassured. You definitely reassured me,and are one of the reasons I even took the tablet last night. For that I can't thank you enough.

      All the best, and thank you again. smile


    • Posted

      I’m so glad it helped you!  It will definitely help. I take both as well. 

      You are on the right track.  

      When I went to 100 mg for a week my pulse got down to 58 so the dr cut my dose of propranolol in half.  But when I went back to 75 mg I went back up to my regular dose. 

      Let me know how you do. 

    • Posted

      I take Sertraline and propranolol. 
  • Posted

    I know the side effects are scary but you will have moments of calm, which lead into days of calm. Im not sure if youre working or not but if you can take some time off and just focus on eating well, exercising and trying to sleep. 
    • Posted

      Hi Dylan,

      Thank you for your reply! I just broke off college til September but plan to job search as soon as this calms down. Maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to go off the sertraline, as I did feel fleeting moments of calm! I think I will feel more comfortable starting citalopram though since the dose is lower!

      I plan to go for a walk with family today, maybe get out into the garden. The sertraline suppressed my appetite but it seems to be back today, I'm so hungry! I'll try sticking to healthy food and simply relaxing. I got about 4-5 hours sleep - albeit with some extremely vivid dreams/nightmares, but sleep is sleep!

      Thank you so much again!

  • Posted

    You are in a state of very high anxiety. I take 50mg Sertraline for anxiety. Like you I had sleep problems. If you take meds, best to do it in the morning. Try to do breathing exercises and take walks to give your body some exercise. I really understand your health anxiety because I suffer from it. Try not to focus on every symptom because it amplifies the worry. I listen to music in the day just to try to focus on other things. The Sertraline does have side effects but they usually subside after several weeks. 

    I wish you well.

    • Posted

      Hi Lynn,

      Thank you so much for your reply!

      I had 2 hours of calm last night - I wonder if maybe I'd just kept taking it this would have eventually increased each time. It's because I googled side effects and possible conditions with those symptoms - which is the one thing I promised myself not to do! At least I lasted a day longer than usual in doing it, lol!

      Trying my best to chill out today, think I have a fragile few days ahead. Every little thing sets off this anxiety in my chest, from loud noises outside and typing on my keyboard to even capslock! I do check my pulse sometimes, it's irregular but definitely slower.

      I want to wait til I stay at my boyfriend's for a week to start the citalopram, which is 2 weeks away. I trust the propranolol now after taking it last night, though, and will do so again if need be.

      Thank you again for your advice, all the best!

  • Posted

    Hi tiny hugs your not alone i was very sceptical about joining forum plus pouring my heart out to any one that would read it, but i am 54 and i think there is nothing that i have not been through with doctors and alternate medicine , both are great, but you have to find the right one for you, and i have been through hell and back, i suffer severe migraines over 30 years , ibs, eating disorders, and all my life hated what i look like even though people lots of them have told me hoe beautiful i am, you see its whats in your mind and once that sets in only specialists can help, this is when i was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and dpd and that is why i was first put on the drug your on now but it may me dizzy sick and my head killedbu do not panic this happened because i suffer migraines, i am now on sertraline , started on 50mg for 3 weeks then the doctor put my up to 100mg after 3 days my migraines were through the roof , layered up for a week so i have decided myself to go down to 50,mg, i know i am no doctor and not to give advice , but i think personal believe and people who have gone through it can give excellent advice , it up to the individual, `so i have been through exactly what you have and dont take this the wrong way the mind is an amazing thing and can do so much, `good and bad, just like the body healthy mind and healthy body, you need to get your mind in a good place, and that is the doctor has given you these drugs as me and you are not in the right head space, look at what is making you depressed, something in the past, talk to your doctor , or a councillor, that is what i am doing, it sounds like you are have panic attacks and wit that your mind thinks terrible things, this is not going to happen, you will be be fine, just talk to someone you feel ok with, a doctor , a councillor, a best friend, or even me , or this forum that is what its here for, hope this help, take care
  • Posted

    Anxiety is a horrid illness and unless you have experienced it it's very hard for people to fully understand. That's why this forum is so good cos we are all in the same boat.

    I started on sert in November 2017..I had been suffering from anxiety for ages but I didn't recognise it. I thought virus/ asthma / poor diet/ irregular sleep pattern through working nights.

    Then I started having bad panic attacks and palpitations and felt like I couldn't breathe.

    The doctor came out to me. I couldnt leave the house.

    Anyway doc put me 25mg sert for a week and then 50mg for a month then 75 100 125 and now I'm on 150mg.

    I had every side effect you can think of. But it was mainly palpitations and the feeling of not being able to breathe properly that scared me the most.

    Have you tried deep breathing. In through nose slowly and then out through your mouth. I spent the first few weeks continually doing deep breathing as my day was one long panic attack. If you are having a panic attack and you breathe this way for 3 minutes your panic attack will calm down. After one minute shout STOP your head not out loud or you may get locked up lol.

    I was also unbelievably tired. I struggled to go upstairs. But I think I had burn out.

    Anyway I just want to reassure you that sertraline will work ( well it has for me ) It takes time though and sometimes the side effects are tough.

    I was off work for nearly 8 months but I am back in now. I have no palpitations..I breathe panic attacks..I can go shopping ( I couldn't go in a shop for ages) pick up grandson from school..

    There is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep reading and posting on here. There are some very helpful people on here..this forum kept me going and Sertraline has saved my life

    Take dose same time every day..cut down on coffee ( to help with sleep) drink tons of water..Try to eat .Watch old comedy..make a to do list every day.

    Good Luck


  • Posted

    I read your post and all the comments. Hope you are doing well!!! I've had another SSRI give me horribly increased anxiety and it is scary!! Everyone reacts to medications differently. I'm currently on day 5 of Zoloft. 

    Sending support!


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