What is the taper schedule for 50mg zoloft? (A Complete Guide)
In this blog, we will learn about the zoloft taper schedule for 50mg. We will also discuss why dose tapering is crucial in the case of zoloft, what is discontinuation or withdrawal syndrome, and how to get back to a normal mental state after stopping the use of zoloft.
What is the taper schedule for 50mg zoloft?
In practice, the dose is simply reduced to 25 mg, which is considered the final dose before withdrawing the med. This dose is continued for a week or two and then it is stopped gradually. As 50mg is a low-dose itself, the taper schedule is not so typical.
In this way, your receptors don’t go crazy in the absence of serotonin. It’s not safe to say that this way, you will not experience any withdrawal symptoms, but this way, they’ll be much less intense.
What is Discontinuation or Withdrawal Syndrome?
Discontinuation syndrome usually happens when you go from taking a daily dose of zoloft to nothing at all. If you want to stop taking an antidepressant, the advice is to speak to your doctor, in order to taper the medication slowly.
SSRIs block the serotonin reuptake back to the presynaptic neuron, which results in increased serotonin availability in the synaptic cleft. Now, if you take away the med rapidly, the availability of serotonin reduces.
This results in serotonin receptors craving serotonin as they have been receiving it for quite a while now, and you start experiencing withdrawal symptoms. It’s basically because of the sudden deficiency of serotonin within the synaptic cleft.
In order to avoid such condition, the dose is reduced over a number of weeks and that’ll be dependent on how long you’ve been taking the medication and the severity of your symptoms.
Unfortunately, a lot of people choose to take the process into their own hands and either try and reduce the dose themselves gradually or stop it all together.
Now this is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Never stop or start any sort of medication on your own. There are medications, called over-the-counter meds, which can be taken without prescription.
But meds, like antidepressants, antipsychotics, CNS stimulants etc, which affect your brain, your cognition, memory, feelings, decision making abilities, how could you possibly think of starting or withdrawing such meds on your own? It is something for you to think about.
Symptoms of Discontinuation/Withdrawal Syndrome
Discontinuation symptoms relate to physical and emotional health. You might suffer from:
- 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
- Heightened anxiety and nervousness
- Mood swings
So, tell me, do you really want to go through all of these symptoms? Because you will if you take your health into your own hands, when you’re not supposed to.
Importance of dose tapering
Dose tapering is an important technique for the withdrawal of antidepressants, in a safe and effective manner. Antidepressants are known to produce dependence.
As we know, SSRIs increase the availability of serotonin. So, if you abruptly stop taking it, your receptors which are dependent on it will start to have a major impact of serotonin deficiency.
This is where dose tapering comes into the picture. It is a safe and effective method to withdraw SSRIs. Your healthcare provider simply just reduces the dose of your antidepressant.
It enables you to start taking medicine in lesser quantities without completely depriving your receptors of serotonin. Half of the dose keeps
decreasing gradually over the period of 7 to 8 days.
After spending a week or two, the med is on its lowest possible dose and now it is considered safe for you to stop using it.
How long do withdrawal symptoms last?
Withdrawal symptoms, associated with zoloft, could last up to 3-4 weeks. As the beneficial effects of the med vary from person to person, so do the withdrawal symptoms.
It might be a bearable journey for one, with symptoms lasting for a week or two only, while it could be a rocky road for another, with symptoms lasting even more than 3 weeks.
Always inform your healthcare provider, if you experience any new symptoms while tapering off zoloft.
4 ways to boost serotonin naturally
As you know, you went through all of this trouble for the sake of serotonin. How about I tell you ways to boost your serotonin without any medication?
I’m sure, this will help improve your withdrawal symptoms as well as it will make sure that you never need an antidepressant, ever again.
Diet is one of the best ways to boost your serotonin. We are already pretty much aware of the power of mother nature. Be it a hormone, an enzyme, or a chemical, she has sources for every single one of them. Here is the list of foods that are high in serotonin:
Eggs are considered a good source of serotonin. The protein present in eggs can significantly increase your plasma levels of tryptophan, which is the precursor synthesis.
Pineapples are also a great source of serotonin. Make sure you eat them fresh, as the level of serotonin is highest in this time period.
Cheese is also an excellent source of tryptophan. You can enjoy adding it to pretty much anything. I’m sure you have amazing recipes for it.
Salmon is also rich in tryptophan. It is also a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Such an amazing gift of mother nature, isn’t it? Think of it the next time you’ll be enjoying your sushi.
- Nuts and seeds
Is there anything which is not present in nuts and seeds? It is something to think about, isn’t it? Nuts and seeds are full of nutrients.
They are good sources of fibre, vitamins, antioxidants, good fats, and of course tryptophan, which as stated earlier, is the precursor of serotonin synthesis. In simple words, it means tryptophan facilitates the production of serotonin.
Exercise is one of the best ways of increasing ‘happy chemicals’ in our system. Workout for at least half an hour, 3 to 4 times a week. Enjoy going for long walks. Learn new yoga moves, as yoga is one of the best ways to relax your racing mind
Research shows a close relationship between sunlight and serotonin levels in your body. Go for a walk in the morning or afternoon to boost your serotonin and to enhance your sleep quality.
Studies show that your gut microflora has a great impact on your serotonin levels through the gut-brain axis. Make sure to add fibre and probiotics in your diet.
How to manage withdrawal symptoms
Now, if you have listened to your healthcare provider and have tapered off zoloft in an appropriate manner, you might get lesser withdrawal effects. It doesn’t mean you have to jump from one medication to another, in order to cure your withdrawal symptoms.
The best thing you can do is, change your diet and lifestyle. This will help you in the long run and might prevent you from getting future depression episodes
When to call your doctor?
If you experience any unusual side effects while following your taper schedule, inform your doctor immediately. Make sure you follow your doctor’s advice properly and avoid non-adherence.
To sum up it all, never stop your antidepressant abruptly. It harms you in more ways than you can imagine. Always talk to your healthcare provider, if you experience any new symptoms while tapering off zoloft.
We discussed the importance of dose tapering and how it protects you from highly intense withdrawal symptoms.
We also discussed some natural ways to boost your serotonin, and let me tell you, natural ways of doing things are always better in the long run.
FAQs: Zoloft taper schedule 50mg
How long does it take to wean off 50mg Zoloft?
It depends on how long you have been taking the med. It usually takes upto 4 weeks to wean off 50mg zoloft
Can I start on 50mg of sertraline?
It is usually safe to start from the lowest effective dose possible, but that’s not your decision to make. Consult your healthcare provider to determine what dose is most beneficial for you. Never start or stop taking any medication without your doctor’s approval.
Is 50 mg sertraline a lot?
50mg sertraline is considered a low dose. How it affects your body depends on how your body reacts to it. 50mg might be too low for some people, while for others, it turns out to be the perfect dose. Consult your healthcare provider to determine what dose is best for you.
How do I stop taking sertraline 50 mg?
Antidepressants must be tapered off. They shouldn’t be stopped abruptly. The dose is simply reduced to 25mg, which is considered the final dose before withdrawing the med. This dose is continued for a week or two and then it is stopped gradually.
Can I take sertraline every other day?
Sertraline is usually taken once a day. So yes, you can take sertraline every other day, but only once. Stick to the dose prescribed by your healthcare provider and do not deviate from it unless advised.
It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for an antidepressant to work. Do not stop your treatment half way.
What are the most common side effects of sertraline 50 mg?
Common side effects of Zoloft include:
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling angry or agitated
- Weight gain
- Inability to digest food
- Loss of libido
- Sweating/Night sweats
- Tremors or shaking
- Decreased sex drive
- Inability to ejaculate
Zoloft, sometimes, causes serious side effects. Consult your healthcare provider as soon as you can if these symptoms occur:
- Eye pain with vision problems
- Memory problems/Dementia
- Severe weakness and inability to move
- P Haddad 1 – The SSRI discontinuation syndrome https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10958258/
- S. J. Harrison, A. E. Tyrer – Light therapy and serotonin transporter binding in the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4942271/
- Sertraline 50 mg Tablets – Lupin Healthcare (UK) Ltd https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/7162/smpc#gref
- C Lindsay DeVane et al. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2002. – Clinical pharmacokinetics of sertraline https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12452737/
- James M. Ferguson, M.D. – SSRI Antidepressant Medications: Adverse Effects and Tolerability https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181155/
- Mark Abie Horowitz, David Taylor (2019) – Tapering of SSRI treatment to mitigate withdrawal symptoms https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30850328/
- Adele Framer (2012) – What I have learnt from helping thousands of people taper off antidepressants and other psychotropic medications https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7970174/