What is the best way to take your child off zoloft?
In this blog post, we are going to talk about taking a child off zoloft. Zoloft withdrawal is tricky even for adults and special precautions are required in children.
This blog will cover this topic in detail and guide you through the process of withdrawal. We will also discuss what you should and should not do when taking a child off zoloft.
What is the best way to take your child off zoloft?
The best way to take your child off zoloft is dose tapering. Your child’s psychiatrist will suggest a proper taper schedule, which should be followed vigilantly. The process of taking a child off a medication, which affects his or her mood, should be done cautiously and slowly.
There’s no need to rush as children are more susceptible to harmful side effects of the drug, as well as its withdrawal. It typically takes twice as much as the time taken by adults to completely wash out zoloft.
Children are usually at low doses because their bodies can not tolerate higher doses. Zoloft is most commonly used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in children above 6 years of age and is not suitable to be used in children younger than that.
For depression, other safer options are considered first. Stopping zoloft is pretty tricky and children and an appropriate time is often decided to do that.
They can get anxious, agitated and may throw tantrums when they start getting a lesser amount of the drug. Make sure you properly follow the taper schedule, and as stated earlier, take it slow.
Reasons which lead to the discontinuation of treatment with zoloft in children.
Following are a few reasons which lead to the discontinuation of treatment with zoloft. These include:
They have achieved the maximum therapeutic outcome
When children suffering from OCD begin to leave their obsessive behaviour behind, it’s a sign that the drug is working for them.
After a certain amount of time on zoloft, and as children continue to grow and learn more and more about the things around them, they begin to start behaving normally.
The intrusive thoughts get out of their system and their mood and behaviour become stable. When this stability persists, the psychiatrist begins to reduce the dose.
This dose tapering is down slowly and over the course of months, in order to maintain stability and prevent any relapse that may be caused by sudden shifting of the dose.
Zoloft intolerance is a big issue as it is not a kind of antidepressant which can easily be tolerated by every single individual.
This process is more critical in children because they are more vulnerable to side effects as compared to adults, especially psychological side effects including agitation, irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, erratic behaviour, paranoia and sometimes hallucinations.
These side effects make the treatment unbearable for a child and lead to the discontinuation of zoloft.
The medication fails to provide adequate relief
Experts believe that some children can not get any benefit from zoloft as it doesn’t work on them that much. Low effective doses fail to provide adequate response and higher doses are never suitable for a child because of the side effects.
This outcome is seen in some children, while others start responding to lower doses as soon as zoloft kicks in.
To clear zoloft out of their system
In some children, the effects of zoloft can not be seen properly. They show obsessive and unusual behaviour. Sometimes, children are hospitalised because of manic behaviour or self harm.
This condition makes it difficult for psychiatrists to interpret if the medication is causing these symptoms as a side effect or the mental health condition is deteriorating.
It leads to discontinuation of the treatment and complete zoloft washout to determine what symptoms remain to be treated and how the child responded to the zoloft withdrawal.
If his condition gets better, it means the antidepressant was responsible for abnormal behaviour. If not, it indicates that the child’s mental health condition is deteriorating over time and more treatment options should be considered.
Zoloft and the risk of suicidal behaviour in children
Zoloft comes with a black-box warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This antidepressant is capable of causing abnormal and suicidal behavior in people less than 24 years of age.
This effect is much more pronounced in children under 12 years of age and they should be closely monitored. Experts believe that this suicidal behavior could be dose dependent. Lower doses may not possess threat, as long as the med is taken properly and all the precautionary measures are followed.
Several research studies indicate that zoloft can cause children to feel worthless, hopeless and they may take everything negatively. They may start to push their parents away and stop engaging in their favourite activities.
This is an alarming sign and parents should never avoid this behavior, as this hopelessness grows into an urge to commit suicide and put an end to the misery. Children have innocent minds and every child should be protected at all costs.
Parents should start interacting more and more with their children if they exhibit signs of worthlessness. The relationship between parents and children is irreplaceable. Your love, support, extra time and attention can help your kid get out of the prison of his negative imagination.
Why should you never stop zoloft abruptly in children
Abrupt withdrawal of zoloft leads to withdrawal or discontinuation syndrome. When your child starts taking antidepressant, it increases the amount of serotonin in his body.
Over time, his body gets used to this increased amount of serotonin. When he suddenly stops using it, it creates an unannounced serotonin deficiency, to which his body reacts in a negative way. Your child may suffer from the following symptoms:
- Abnormal behaviour
- Excess sweating/night sweats
- Inability to fall asleep
- Dizziness or vertigo
Important precautions for parents or caregivers.
- Closely monitor the symptoms of your child and his or her behaviour after taking zoloft.
- Keep all pills locked away or inaccessible to your child at all times.
- Do not deviate from the dose prescribed by your child’s psychiatrist.
- Keep an eye on your child if he’s new on zoloft or if his dose is escalated recently, as zoloft tends to induce suicidal behavior in young children.
- Make sure there’s no chance of overdose as it could become life threatening for your child.
- Keep track of your child’s pills and make sure you don’t miss a dose. Set a reminder on your phone or make a habit of marking your calendar after dose administration each day.
- Immediately report to the hospital if your child shows any signs of allergic reaction or hyperventilation.
- Take care of your child’s mental health, diet and make sure he stays active.
- If you have to be somewhere and you need to leave your child at a friend’s house or at a daycare centre, make sure they are well informed of your child’s condition and keep an eye on him or her in your absence.
Is there any other non-pharmacological treatment option for children suffering from OCD?
Non-pharmacological treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) includes psychotherapy. In Psychotherapy or behavioural therapies, a mental healthcare professional will help improve your child’s communication and coping skills.
It can help your child control his or her anger and obsessive habits. Interpersonal therapies are also used in which your child can learn how to build new relationships, how to behave in social environments and how he can rely on and trust his loved ones.
Other medications which should be withdrawn carefully
There are certain other medications which need to be withdrawn slowly and properly, in order to protect your child from discontinuation syndrome. These meds include:
- Drugs to treat Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Antidepressants other than zoloft, which can be used to treat OCD, PTSD, eating disorder, mood disorder, panic attacks etc.
- Drugs used to relief anxiety and agitation
- Drugs to treat psychosis or mania.
In this blog, we have discussed ways to take a child off zoloft. Zoloft is an antidepressant and it’s tricky for a child to stop using it. It is used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and is not indicated to be used in children younger than 6 years of age.
The best way to take your child off zoloft is dose tapering. Your child’s psychiatrist will suggest a proper taper schedule, which should be followed vigilantly. It should be done cautiously and slowly.
There’s no need to rush as children are more susceptible to harmful side effects of the drug, as well as its withdrawal. Your child’s healthcare provider may stop the use of zoloft if your child has gained maximum benefits from it or if the drug does not deliver satisfactory outcomes.
Make sure you take all the necessary precautions and keep a close eye on his symptoms to ensure his safety, as zoloft can induce suicidal behavior in young children.
FAQs: taking child off zoloft
How do I wean my child off of Zoloft?
The best way to wean your child off zoloft is dose tapering. Your child’s psychiatrist will suggest a proper taper schedule, which should be followed vigilantly.
What happens when you stop taking Zoloft?
Abrupt withdrawal of zoloft leads to withdrawal or discontinuation syndrome. When you start taking antidepressant, it increases the amount of serotonin in your body.
Over time, your body gets used to this increased amount of serotonin. When you suddenly stop using it, it creates an unannounced serotonin deficiency, to which your body reacts in a negative way. You may suffer from the following symptoms:
- Excess sweating/night sweats
- Disturbed sleep, insomnia, nightmares
- Dizziness or vertigo
- You might feel something called brain zaps, which feels like a shock firing in your brain
How long do withdrawal symptoms last from Zoloft?
Different factors affect the duration of your withdrawal symptoms. One of these factors include the half-life of the drug. Drugs with longer half lives produce withdrawal symptoms for a longer period of time. Half life of zoloft is 24-28 hours. Your symptoms will gradually start to fade away in a week or two. It, too, depends on how your body reacts to this withdrawal.
Can you stop Zoloft cold turkey?
You should never stop using zoloft cold turkey. Abrupt withdrawal leads to disturbing side effects.
What happens if you miss 2 days of Zoloft?
When you miss taking your zoloft dose, you start experiencing symptoms similar to the symptoms experienced after zoloft withdrawal. Make sure you take your medication on time and avoid following non-adherence.
What helps Zoloft withdrawal?
Psychotherapy and lifestyle changes can help you with your zoloft withdrawal symptoms. Make sure you add wholesome foods to your diet, stay active and give your body enough time to adjust.
- Sheik Hosenbocus, MD, FRCP(C) and Raj Chahal, MSW (2012) – SSRIs and SNRIs: A review of the Discontinuation Syndrome in Children and Adolescents https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3024727/#__ffn_sectitle
- Antidepressants for children and teens https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/teen-depression/in-depth/antidepressants/art-20047502