How to switch from Zoloft to Lexapro successfully? 

How to switch from Zoloft to Lexapro successfully? 

You can successfully switch from Zoloft to Lexapro by following your doctor’s directions. The best switching strategy can be patient-specific because each individual is unique in terms of symptoms and overall body physiology. 

The cause of Zoloft discontinuation is also different, as some people may suffer from side effects and that’s why they shift to Lexapro, whereas some people don’t benefit much from Zoloft and may need to try another antidepressant for better therapeutic effects. 

Either way, your doctor will most likely suggest one of the following switching strategies (1,2):

  • Direct switch 
  • Taper off Zoloft while starting Lexapro from the lowest effective dose. 

Direct switch

A direct switching strategy can be applied in this case because both Zoloft and Lexapro belong to the same class of antidepressants – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (3,4). 

Antidepressants belonging to one class are very similar, especially in the way they work. This is why your doctor may stop Zoloft and start Lexapro right away. This is the simplest way of switching antidepressants, but it may not be applicable in every case. 

Taper off Zoloft while starting Lexapro from the lowest effective dose

People who are more sensitive to the effects of Zoloft may experience disturbing withdrawal symptoms after directly switching to the antidepressant. 

In such cases, it’s best to first taper off Zoloft gradually, while starting Lexapro from the lowest effective dose at the same time. This way, the dose of Zoloft keeps decreasing until the drug is stopped and Lexapro takes its place. 

This way, the sudden discontinuation of Zoloft doesn’t affect you or cause disturbing withdrawal symptoms. Make sure you don’t try switching your antidepressant on your own. 

Common reasons leading to Zoloft discontinuation

Some common reasons leading to Zoloft discontinuation include:

Persistent side effects

Some individuals may experience side effects while taking Zoloft, such as nausea, headache, dizziness, or sexual dysfunction. If these side effects become bothersome or affect daily life, it’s preferable to switch to another antidepressant.

Reduced effectiveness

Zoloft may not work as effectively as expected for everyone. If a person does not experience the desired improvement in their symptoms or feels that the medication is not helping them sufficiently, they may decide to stop taking it.

However, your doctor may try dose escalation first. If you are taking a low dose of Zoloft, such as 25 mg – your doctor may increase it to 50 mg and monitor your response. If it does work, you may not need to switch to another medication.

Some people may begin their treatment with a dose lower than 25 mg, such as 12.5 mg. If your initial Zoloft dose is not working, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the drug is ineffective. It’s the dosage strength which is not adequate enough to make a difference.

In some cases, doctors may recommend increasing 50 mg of Zoloft to 75 mg, or 75 mg to 100 mg, if it fails to deliver promising results. The dose of Zoloft can be increased up to 200 mg per day.

Availability of a better treatment option

Some individuals may have a preference for alternative treatment methods or want to explore non-pharmacological options for their condition. People with mild depression often choose not to take antidepressants and seek help from psychiatric therapy sessions. 

Completion of therapy

In some cases, Zoloft is prescribed for a specific duration to treat a particular condition. Once the treatment period is completed and the person’s symptoms have improved, their healthcare provider may advise discontinuing the medication.

What to expect when you switch from Zoloft to Lexapro?

Lexapro, although it belongs to the same class of antidepressants as Zoloft, may take some time to start working. You can’t expect to see a difference in your symptoms overnight. 

Lexapro may also cause some early side effects and you may struggle a week or two. However, when Lexapro kicks in, you will start to see a positive change in your symptoms. 

Antidepressant switching is common among depressed individuals, as it can take years to try out antidepressants and end up with the one that works out for the best.

Zoloft can also be switched to other SSRIs like Prozac (Fluoxetine). Some SNRIs like Effexor may also be more suitable for certain individuals, as compared to Zoloft.

Furthermore, Zoloft can be successfully used in combination with other antidepressants, like Mirtazapine, Trazodone, etc if antidepressant-monotherapy does not work. Just make sure you closely follow your doctor’s directions. 

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