Tapering Off Zoloft

Tapering Off Zoloft
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Question: I'm in the process of tapering off Zoloft?  What kind of schedule should I follow?

Answer: Zoloft has a half-life of about one day. That means that for every day that passes without taking the medication the level in the blood falls by 50%. After one day, the level is reduced to 50% of the original level, after two days to 25%, after three days to 12.5% and so on.

Because Zoloft leaves your body so quickly, stopping it too abruptly can cause discontinuation syndrome to develop.

Among the symptoms that may be experienced are nausea, tremor, dizziness, muscle pains, weakness, insomnia and anxiety. While many people coming off Zoloft have none of these symptoms, some people do have one or more. The symptoms usually last 1-2 weeks; but, in some instances, they may gradually decrease over a period as long as a month.

The best way to avoid or minimize these symptoms is tapering off gradually.  You should consult your personal physician before attempting to taper.  The schedule for tapering off will need to be personalized for you, based upon such factors as how long you have been taking Zoloft, your current dose and how you respond to the tapering.  In addition, your doctor may advise that quitting your medication at the present time is not a good idea due to your risk for returning depression symptoms.

Be aware that there are not any hard and fast rules for tapering off Zoloft.

  One person may do it within a short amount of time while another may take longer.  Some may even need to use liquid Zoloft or split their pills in half in order to taper in even smaller increments.  A liquid formulation of Zoloft, which must be prescribed for you by your doctor, allows you to easily measure out smaller quantities of the medication than what is available in pill form.

  Pills can be split by obtaining an inexpensive device called a pill splitter from your local pharmacy.

While no specific schedule can be applied to all individuals, a person taking the upper maintenance level dosage of Zoloft (200 mg) might proceed through dosages of 200 mg, 150 mg, 100 mg, 75 mg and 50 mg as he tapers off.  And, each dosage reduction might occur somewhere between several days to several weeks, depending upon how you respond.


Harvard Women's Health Watch.  "How to Taper Off Your Antidepressant."  Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School.  Harvard University.  Published:  November 1, 2010.  Updated:  December 1, 2015.  Accessed:  January 11, 2016.

"Zoloft."  Cerner Multum, Inc.  Drugs.com.  Revised:  September 23, 2015.  Accessed:  January 11, 2016.

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