Does it feel awful while coming off Sertraline?

In this article, we will discuss the discomfort associated with Sertraline withdrawal. We will talk about how long the withdrawal symptoms last and what you can do to help make you feel better.

Does it feel awful while coming off Sertraline?

Coming off Sertraline can be an awful journey for some individuals, especially those who discontinue this antidepressant after years and years of taking it. Sertraline withdrawal can affect people differently as it depends on several individual-specific factors (1). 

Antidepressants like Sertraline are often taken for extended periods, sometimes even years. During this time, your body gets used to the medication, which helps stabilise serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating mood.

When you stop taking Sertraline, your body has to readjust to functioning without the medication. This can be a difficult process, and the experience varies from person to person. It depends on how long you’ve been on the medication and how dependent your body has become on it.

Tapering off the antidepressant is essential to make this transition more manageable (2). Tapering involves gradually reducing the dose under the guidance of your doctor. This slow decrease allows your body to adapt more smoothly to the changing levels of serotonin.

Abruptly stopping Sertraline can lead to withdrawal symptoms and tapering helps minimise these effects, making the process less challenging (3).

Remember to follow the tapering schedule provided by your doctor precisely. Going too fast can increase the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms. 

So, while it might feel challenging to come off Sertraline, doing it slowly and under medical supervision can make the process more bearable.

What are the common Sertraline withdrawal symptoms?

Sertraline withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the duration of treatment and how you choose to stop the medication. Some common symptoms include (3):

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Imbalance
  • Anxiety
  • Agitations
  • Brain zaps
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Impairment of motor coordination

These symptoms can vary from person to person, and people who opt for abrupt withdrawal can experience these symptoms much more intensely as compared to people who slowly taper it off. 

How long does Sertraline withdrawal last?

The duration of Sertraline withdrawal can vary widely from person to person. It typically spans anywhere from a few days to several weeks, and in some cases, it might even extend to a few months (4). 

This variability is influenced by several factors, including how long you’ve been taking the medication and how well your body adjusts to the withdrawal process. Crucially, the efficiency of the taper schedule plays a significant role. 

Slow and gradual dose reduction is often the most effective way to minimise withdrawal symptoms. Abruptly discontinuing Sertraline or making large dose reductions, especially for long-term users, is generally not recommended (3). 

Taper schedules are individualised to meet a person’s specific needs and should be carefully monitored by a doctor. This personalised approach helps your body adapt more smoothly to the decreasing levels of the medication. 

It’s worth noting that some individuals may discontinue Sertraline after a week or two due to drug intolerance or side effects. In such cases, withdrawal symptoms, if they occur, are typically mild. 

How to make Sertraline withdrawal a little easier for you?

There are a few things you can do to make Sertraline withdrawal easier for you. These include:

Follow the taper schedule

It’s crucial to take the withdrawal process slow and adhere to your prescribed taper schedule. If you experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, consult your doctor about adjusting the taper schedule to make it even slower if necessary.

Maintain a healthy diet

A balanced diet can support your mood during withdrawal. Some foods, like eggs and salmon, contain nutrients that can naturally boost serotonin levels, which may help ease some withdrawal symptoms (5).

Get adequate sunlight

Sunlight exposure can contribute to stabilizing serotonin levels in the brain. Spending time outdoors during the day can improve your overall mood and potentially reduce withdrawal discomfort (5,6).

Exercise regularly

Engaging in physical activity can have a positive impact on your mental well-being. Regular exercise may help alleviate some withdrawal symptoms and improve your overall mood (5).

Keep yourself busy and distracted

Keep yourself occupied with activities you love and spend time with supportive friends and family. Engaging in hobbies and maintaining a strong support system can help take your mind off withdrawal symptoms and reduce stress. 

Try to distance yourself from anything or anyone that causes you unnecessary stress during this period. Staying mentally and socially active can make the Sertraline withdrawal process more manageable.

Remember, Sertraline withdrawal can take time but it eventually starts to get better. Just don’t lose hope or give up. Keep in touch with your healthcare provider and follow the directions properly.


In this article, we have discussed how Sertraline withdrawal can be an awful journey for some people. We have also discussed what one can do to make it a little easier. 

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Horowitz MA, Taylor D. Tapering of SSRI treatment to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 Jun;6(6):538-546. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30032-X. Epub 2019 Mar 5. PMID: 30850328.


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