Terrified of Getting Off Sertraline (on it for 20 years!) and falling into a deep depression!!

Posted , 4 users are following.

HELP ... I'm very scared of getting off Sertraline but I'm pretty sure it's screwing up my Melatonin and making it impossible for me to sleep at night.  I just can't live like this!!

I'm 70, live in New York, USA.  Also have CFIDS/ME (Chronic Fatigue). Have always been prone to low level depression but in the 80's it reached a terrible level.  Long story short ... after trying Nardil (MAOI Inhibitor) and having it work great, I decided with my doctor's approval to gradually taper off.  BIG mistake.  After a few months, down I went into the worst clincial depression.  Tried retaking Nardil but it wouldn't work!!

Nothing else worked for my hideous depression.  Tried Prozac, Wellbutrin, on and on.  

Finally got onto Zoloft/Sertraline and it helped greatly.  That was 20 years ago and now I'm dreading getting off.  BUT I HAVE TO sleep at night again.  I can't continue this hideous day sleep.

I can't fall asleep at night at all.  The best I can do is fall asleep at 5AM and get up at 2PM which is OK.  I'm 70 and retired.  BUT NOW, I can't fall asleep before 10 or 11AM and all my day appointments are screwed (dentist, vet, etc.) !!

I'm getting so frantic about this.  Get off it, don't get off Sertraline.  BUT I can't live with this day sleep and am pretty sure Sertraline has messed up my Melatonin so it works during the day vs. the night (have read this as well).

I am now on 200mg/day of Sertraline and so fearful that getting gradually off it will send me into another terrible clincal depression.

I don't care for my shrink as he's not the most empathetic soul, don't have a therapist and doubt I could afford one now.  Finding a new shrink is too much for me right now.

Has anyone ever gotten off Sertraline after such a long time ... any advice?  I may probably need another anti-depressant as I am so prone to chronic depression.

I would so appreciate some feedback, advice, tips, etc.  Will be discussing with my shrink soon (tapering very very slowly off Sertraline).  I do know I am not just depressed but DISTRESSED, so Lorazepam is a help.

Thank you so much and sorry to be so lengthy and hard to follow.


0 likes, 9 replies

9 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Deeebeee. Sorry to hear that you are having trouble sleeping. Do you take your sertraline at night or in the morning? Have you tried changing the time of day you take it? I am on my 10th week and only feel slight improvement. Scared to switch again though as have had terrible trouble switching in the past. This time doctor switched me cold turkey from Citalopram (8years) to Sertraline with no tapering. I've been a suicidal wreck. All I would say is go careful. Remember how bad it feels when you are depressed and if Sertraline helps then maybe there's something else that would help you sleep. I just wish I could feel normal again. Sick of feeling detached and depressed. Like I'm in a tunnel. Good luck. X
    • Posted

      Oh tracy ... I know how damned complicated all this is.  I take Sertralne at various times.  Taking it now in the afternoon.  I remember that Sertraline took its good old time to help ... so don't give up.  How much are you taking?  I don't think your doctor did the smart thing at all.  Crazy.  You should have been tapered off the other med first.   I've tried every thing in the world to sleep and it's just not working.  A friend told me to post on our FB page and on our NYC CFIDS/FMS Meetup board for a good psychiatrist who can help me transition off Sertraline gradually.  She also said there are meds now to help with this transitioning.  Unfortunately she doesn't know of a good shrink.  Money is a factor too, would like to find someone who takes Medicare or charges a fairly reasonable fee.  

      Perhaps you need a different doctor?  

      Ask if you should increase the amt. of Sertraline?  (Don't know what you're taking).  

      I'm so sorry you feel so bad.  A therapist would be very helpful too.  Wish I could do that as well.  Hang in there and let me know how much you're on.  Big hugs XXXX

    • Posted

      Thanks Deebee for your kind words. I'm on 150mgs. I am going to ask for therapy and am also looking into dietary changes. I've read that candida build up in the gut can cause anxiety and depression. My diets always been poor so it may help to eat healthier and excercise. If I still feel bad in a month then I'll ask to go up to 200mgs. I'm so sorry that you're not sleeping well. I listen to a meditation audio at night. It's all about living in easy world by Julia Hamrick Rogers. I'm always fast asleep before it ends. I really hope you find the right help to full recovery. Take care. Xx
    • Posted

      Hi tracy ....I'm taking my 150mg Sertraline early evening now.  Can't take it in the AM as that's when I fall asleep.  Hopefully that will change.

      Are you seeing a psychiatrist or a psychopharmacologist?  Really really important not to just be seeing your family doctor.  Way too complicated dealing with ant-d's.  

      Sertraline is for DEPRESSION not primarily for anxiety yet I read all these "doctors" giving it erroneously for that ... AAARGH.  If you have anxiety, Lorazepam is good or if you can afford it the brand Ativan.  The problem now with Lorazepam is it appears to be coming out from various manufacturers in watered down form.  Do not use Actavis Lorazepam.  

      But you do need either Lorazepam or Xanax for anxiety.  (if you can find an effective brand (avoid Actavis not good) is very good.  

      Thanks for the good words re sleep.  Will check out the meditatioin tape you mentioned .. sounds great.  Living in Easy World by Julia Hamrick.  I used to sleep like a log.  Now PM sleep's very difficult without a lot of Melatonin.  smile

  • Posted

    I was on 150 mg of sertraline for 10 months. You can read my posts on the link "does sertraline withdrawl ever go away"!

    I went to my Dr. as I wasn't sleeping. She sugested an increase and implementation of a sleeping med! I never felt well on the drug so I said No. I had been in contact with my pharmacist (who most often know far more about drugs than the Drs). She said if you're not sleeping you need to taper down in her opinion. I suggested this to my Dr. we began the taper at 25mg. per two weeks. I started to sleep!

    I have a friend who has been on Sertraline for 20 years due to depression. She has tapered back to 100 mg., and is doing well. She lost her parents thus her Dr. raised her another 50 mg each time. She'd been on a 100 mg for years. She felt there was no need for the extra 100mg., she was sad, not depressed at the time.

    I hope this helps. I know we all react to these meds. differently, but insomnia alone can led to depression. Hugs.

    • Posted

      Hi Maureen ... I'll check out your posts on "does sertraline withdrawal ever go away!"  Sounds horrible.

      What amount of Sertraline are you at?  And you can sleep at night?  Wonderful.  

      Did your friend who went down to 100mg Sertraline have any problems not being able to sleep at night before she reduced dose? 

      I absolutely need to be able to sleep again at night.  It would be great if I didn't have to totally go off Sertraline.

      I just left a message for my psychiatrist, but I'm sure he will say come in.  He's not the most agreeable sort.  It's expensive: $158 for 30 minutes.  I have to pay upfront then give him the forms and wait forever for 40% back.  UGH.    

      Worth trying tapering down to 100mg and see if that will help sleeping at night.  Sounds smart to do 25mg reduction per week.  

      OH YES, I'm very depressed about this failure to be able to sleep at night (not sure I have true insomnia).

      So glad you're sleeping.

      Will look at your posts on that link.

      Thanks so so much.



  • Posted

    I've been totally off sertraline for one year. I reduced at 25mg for TWO weeks at a time.

    My friend never had a problem with sleeping, she was the opposite of me! She reduced because she thought she didn't need the extra 100 mg. She can reduce and increase though without a problem. She does not have a sensitivity to this stuff like I had. You could reduce and see if your sleeping improves.

  • Posted

    I too have been on Sertraline for just over twenty years during which time my depression was always in control, until in 2007 due to work stress, home stress i had a nervous breakdown.  This caused me to lose my job in Housing, I jumped from job to job believing it was work related.  Eventually in 2010 I gave up working full time and started my own cleaning business which has been very successful and has built up a very good clientele.  In the summer of 2014 we had a disastrous holiday with my daughter, partner and grandson who live in america. I went into what I now term "the black Hole" and was there for several months after my daughter returned to the States. Then I seemed to be getting out and a light at the end of the tunnel, then came Xmas which is not my favourite time of the year and I went back into the "Black Hole".  I have been in and out of it since Xmas.  I am on 100mg Sertraline and my GP advises not to increase the dose, but I just cannot go on feeling as I do.  Worst time is mornings when I do not wish to get out of bed. Most people I know have only been on anti-depressants for a few years so I am now wondering if I have been on this drug too long but so so scared to come off it as the last time I did that I just sank into a deep depression.  So relate to how you feel Ronnie
    • Posted

      Hi rotweiler,

      I'm so sorry for all you've been going through.  I had the same series of awfulness from about 1989-1995.  It was miserable.  The MAIN THING I have to tell you is get yourself to a good psychiatrist or psychopharmacologist ... A GP does not ... repeat does NOT... know enough about psychotrophic meds.  AND 100 is not a high dose.

      I've been on 200 for years.  Only because my night time sleep seems badly affected probably due to Sertraline am I tapering down.  I'm at 150mg now and it's fine.

      When I first was prescribed Sertraline, my psychiatrist insisted that I also have Ativan on hand for anxiety (Lorazepam is the generic.  You may have to try a few brands as not all are great, Actavis brand is awful, weak).

      Sertraline worked great for me and still works after 23 years!!!!  Get yourself to a good psychopharmacologist, psychiatrist and get him to up the dose to at least 150mg.  No GP's please.

      Don't give up, even though it sounds so hard.  If you can, get a therapist.  Best way is to go to a sliding scale clinic and ask for a Social Worker (they are the best).  Some clinics also provide a psychiatrist and a therapist on a sliding scale..  

      Good luck, Again, GP's should be smacked if they dabble in anti-depressants.


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