English: Zoloft

English: Zoloft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Common symptoms of withdrawal from SSRIs, SNRIs, atypical antidepressants, MAOIs and tricyclic antidepressants are often catalogued into two groups. The first group is:
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Muscle Spasms
• Tremor
• Electric Shock-like Sensations (brain zaps)
• Other Strange Tingling or Painful Sensations
• Nausea, Diarrhea, Flatulence
• Dreams, including Vivid Dreams
• Agitation

The second group overlaps with general nervousness. These symptoms are:
• Irritability
• Depression
• Agitation
• Confusion
• Fatigue/Malaise
• Flu-like Feelings
• Drowsiness
Mood Swings
• Sweating
• Feelings of Unreality
• Feelings of being Hot or Cold

The above symptoms appear in anywhere between 20% to 50% of patients taking SSRIs and SNRIs, sometimes within hours of the last dose. Paroxetine (Paxil) and venlafaxine (Effexor) appear to be the most problematic agents at the moment, but similar symptoms are liable to occur with all SSRIs, SNRIs, atypical antidepressants and to a lesser extent with tricyclic and MAOI antidepressants.

In milder cases problems may clear up after a week or two, but in others symptoms may continue weeks or months after the last dose and for some patients it may not be possible to stop treatment.

For example, 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.

This is why it is very important to only stop taking an antidepressant or any prescribed drug when you are under the care of a medical doctor and following the directions of a medical doctor.