First things first, Zoloft® is an antidepressant medication that can be used for a wide range of mental health disorders. The most common uses of Zoloft® include treatment for:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD), also called major depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD
- Pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, PMDD
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD
In some cases, Zoloft® may also be used off-label for other disorders or conditions, with doctor oversight and approval. Most of the time when Zoloft® is used this way, it’s to treat similar symptoms and problems as the ones that come with the approved disorders, and it may be used in combination with other medications to achieve the desired relief from symptoms.
Normally, when someone is prescribed Zoloft®, they are warned about how important it is to take the medications regularly and on as much of a set schedule as possible. That’s because people who miss a dose of this medication, or who struggle with taking their medication regularly, may be at risk of relapsing in their condition or starting to get withdrawal symptoms between doses.
Remember that, like most mental health medications, Zoloft® can create a chemical dependence in your body. This means once you’ve been taking Zoloft® regularly for a while, your body gets used to having access to the medication and doesn’t function normally without it. Even if you haven’t been able to take the medication regularly, and have consistently missed doses or taking the medication on an irregular schedule, you will still probably develop a chemical dependence on the medication.
Taking Zoloft® or any mental health medication may also increase your risk of a mental health relapse, or increase your risk of suicidal thoughts or actions, self-harm, and other serious side effects of your disorder.
If you are worried about your ability to take a medication regularly, it’s a good idea to talk with your prescriber or other mental health practitioners about strategies you can use to build the habit or to remind yourself to take the medication when you need it.
Zoloft® is one of the most common antidepressants on the market, so why would you need to stop taking this medication?
There are many reasons. One of the most prevalent is that not everyone receiving mental health treatment will respond the same way to different medications. You may start taking Zoloft®, and, a few months later, realize that the medication isn’t a good fit or doesn’t adequately cover your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend stopping the medication so you can try something else if that happens.
It’s also relatively common for the effectiveness of antidepressant medications to change over time. Zoloft® might be an effective medication for you for a while, but then stop working the way you need it to after taking it for months or even years.
Another common reason to stop taking an antidepressant like Zoloft® is that you may no longer need an antidepressant at all, or you and your care providers might want to see how you do without one to assess whether you still need medication, or if other treatments might be a better fit. The most important thing when it comes to stopping a mental health medication like Zoloft® is that you shouldn’t stop taking the drug without medical supervision, ideally from a qualified mental health provider and that you shouldn’t stop taking the medication suddenly.
Unfortunately, if you have been taking Zoloft® for more than a couple of weeks, there is a chance that you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication, even if you stop with doctor approval and supervision. That means that anyone who starts taking Zoloft® should be aware of, and prepared for, the possibility of going through withdrawal.
Medically Reviewed By
Nicole Rettino-Lambert LCSW, LCADC, CCS, CCTP, CSTIP
Nicole Rettino-Lambert is a dually licensed clinician with over 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults in both addiction treatment and mental health treatment. Along with extensive experience in clinical work, she has held leadership roles in both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatments centers in New Jersey. Throughout her various leadership positions, Rettino-Lambert has developed clinical programming, assisted staff in their growth and development in the clinical field, and had the privilege of helping numerous individuals on their path to recovery.