Zoloft Detox, Addiction Symptoms, & Treatment

Inpatient medical detox and primary residential addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up Treatment West Palm Beach. Medical detox may be required first for some primary behavioral health treatment clients. If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us before beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited to your individual needs.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: April 26, 2023

Zoloft is the brand name of the prescription drug Sertraline. It is an antidepressant that belongs to a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This medication treats social anxiety disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder. SSRIs like Zoloft have long been associated with withdrawal symptoms when the use of the drugs is stopped or diminished abruptly. Recovery professionals recommend facing Zoloft addiction with a long-term treatment plan that promotes positive decision-making and improvements to overall health, including learning coping skills. This will all start by undergoing medically assisted Zoloft detox.

According to the US Food and Drugs Administration [1], taking this drug may cause serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition. Also, this drug may increase the risk of bleeding. Taking it with aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may increase the risk. Moreover, Zoloft and other antidepressant medicines may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in people 24 years and younger, especially within the first few months of treatment or when the dose changes. Finally, this drug may cause sexual problems. Symptoms may include decreased sex drive, delayed orgasm or inability to orgasm, problems getting or keeping an erection, and ejaculation problems.

Common Side Effects of Zoloft:

  • Nausea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Indigestion.
  • Change in sleep habits.
  • Increased sweating.
  • Sexual problems.
  • Tremor or shaking.
  • Tiredness and fatigue.
  • Anxiety.

More Serious Side Effects of Zoloft:

  • Suicide attempts.
  • Acting on dangerous impulses.
  • Aggressive or violent behavior.
  • Thoughts about suicide or dying.
  • New or worse depression.
  • New or worse anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Agitation, restlessness, anger, or irritability.
  • Manic episodes.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Seizures or convulsions.
  • Eye pain.
  • Changes in appetite or weight.
  • An increase in activity or talking more than normal.

Serotonin Syndrome

This condition is one of the many serious side effects of using this drug, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms can include:

  • Hallucinations.
  • Agitation.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.
  • Fast heart rate.
  • Changes in blood pressure.
  • Muscle tremor.
  • Dizziness.
  • Shakiness.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Muscle rigidity.

Zoloft Overdose

A Zoloft overdose can become serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a medical emergency that causes fever, muscle tightness, confusion, and potentially lethal seizures; find a medical-assisted Zoloft detox program.

Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • Tiredness.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fast heart rate.
  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Agitation.
  • Tremors.

Zoloft Withdrawal

When you start the Zoloft detox process, withdrawal is a form of SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome. This condition affects about 20% of people who use an SSRI. Zoloft has a short half-life. Therefore its effects quickly wear off. Typically, drugs with a shorter half-life may indicate more potential withdrawal problems.

When a person suddenly stops taking this drug, their serotonin levels will abruptly decline. As a result, a person may experience physical and mental effects. It is essential to consult a professional. To begin with, Zoloft detox by gradually reducing the number of drugs until the individual stop altogether. This method is sometimes called tapering.

Zoloft Detox: According to the Harvard Medical School [1], about 10 percent of women ages 18+ use antidepressants such as Zoloft.
Zoloft Detox: According to the Harvard Medical School [1], about 10 percent of women ages 18+ use antidepressants such as Zoloft.

Learn More:

The length of the tapering method is often determined by how long a person has been taking Zoloft. Usually, tapering lasts four weeks, although a doctor can advise spreading out the medication’s withdrawal across six to eight weeks to lessen the likelihood or severity of side effects.

Zoloft Facts

Zoloft Overview

Zoloft is a brand name for the antidepressant medication sertraline. It is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among other conditions. Zoloft works by increasing the serotonin in the brain, which helps regulate mood and reduce anxiety. It is available in tablet and liquid form and is usually taken once a day with or without food.

Side Effects of Zoloft

Zoloft can have side effects, including nausea, dizziness, sleep problems, and sexual dysfunction, and may interact with other drugs or health conditions. It should only be taken under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Sings and Symptoms of Zoloft Abuse

  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Continuing to use Zoloft after the prescribed period has ended
  • Using Zoloft to get high or alter mood
  • Mixing Zoloft with other substances, such as alcohol or illicit drugs
  • Obsessing over the medication and feeling unable to function without it
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop using Zoloft abruptly.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, seeking help from a healthcare professional or addiction specialist is important.

Zoloft Detox Statistics

Zoloft is a widely prescribed medication for depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. While Zoloft can be an effective treatment option for those who need it, it is also possible for people to abuse the drug. Zoloft abuse can have many negative consequences, including addiction, overdose, and long-term health problems. In this section, we will explore Zoloft abuse statistics to understand better the problem’s scope and the potential risks associated with misusing this medication.

16 million

An estimated 16 million adults in the United States reported using prescription stimulants, including Zoloft, for non-medical purposes in 2019.

Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health


A study found that among college students, nearly 7% reported using Zoloft for non-medical reasons.

Source: The journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence


In 2011, there were over 22,000 emergency department visits related to the non-medical use of prescription antidepressants, including Zoloft.

Source: Drug Abuse Warning Network

Possible symptoms of Zoloft withdrawal are:

  • Chills.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Recurring nightmares and vivid dreams.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Tingling sensations in the skin.
  • Vertigo.

Zoloft Withdrawal Timeline

24 – 72 hours

The first symptoms are felt within 24-72 hours after discontinuation. The initial several days without Zoloft are typically very painful. Some symptoms are flu-like symptoms, mood swings, and racing or erratic thoughts. Also, feelings of anxiety and intense craving tend to occupy the mind. During the initial days of Zoloft discontinuation, seizures may happen. This is one another justification for medical supervision of all drug withdrawal cases.

Week 1

Mood swings, exhaustion, muscle tightness, and even sensations of dissociation (that you are disconnected from your body) may happen during the first week of taking Zoloft Detox. It is important to have medical professionals on hand who can monitor the health status and offer either medicine or psychological support. The symptoms are at their peak during the first few weeks. Therefore, the person should strive to resist the strong urges and find something to do to pass the time and divert their attention from Zoloft.

Week 2

The second week is much easier compared to the first week. When a person reaches this withdrawal period, the physical symptoms typically subside. However, one may still struggle with insomnia, vivid dreams, or nightmares. These things will subside with time.

Week 3+

After three weeks, weight gain, rebound depression, and general unease are the most typical symptoms. The hardest part at this point would be finding the energy to continue and live without Zoloft. The most critical symptom at this period is depression. The most frequent cause of relapsing into old use habits is low motivation, but one must maintain strength and find the will to overcome this obstacle.

Medically Assisted Zoloft Detox and Treatment

Many forms of treatment are available, but the first step toward a successful Zoloft recovery is detox. Withdrawal from this drug requires care from Zoloft detox specialists. Medically–assisted detox removes the element of needless suffering and minimizes the potential risks of withdrawal. Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and addressing underlying mental health disorders is all a part of setting clients up for success.

Psychotherapy is only used by less than 20% of antidepressant users, despite the fact that it is frequently crucial for healing from depression and preventing recurrence. This is according to the Harvard Medical School [2]. Talk therapy and other non-medication treatments should usually be continued to treat this drug’s psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Following detox, most clients will receive recommendations to continue with their addiction treatment. Any addiction treatment program for Zoloft detox should be integrated with individual or group therapy.

Typically, treatment continues in the form of inpatient rehab, with a particular focus on the following aspects of addiction recovery:

  • Relapse prevention.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Individual and group therapy.
  • 12-Step Program work.
  • Family therapy.
  • Chemical dependency education.

Is Zoloft addictive? Yes, this drug has a potent antidepressant effect, so it is one of the biggest risks in generating dependence. People are much less likely to relapse after recovering from depression if they exercise three times a week or more. Exercise makes serotonin more available for binding to receptor sites on nerve cells. It can compensate for changes in serotonin levels as the person tapers off SRIs and other medications that target the serotonin system. Check in for a Zoloft detox treatment in a facility that offers holistic treatment and programs that promotes physical activities.

We Level FL Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatment

We Level Up FL primary mental health center stands ready to help. Offering secondary treatment therapy for underlying problems like Zoloft Addiction often fuels negative behaviors. Taking that first step to get the help you deserve can be life-changing.

We understand how behavioral disorders and secondary co-occurring addiction diagnoses directly impact each other. We Level Up Florida can instill a support system through our mental health treatments that can make you feel valuable. Call us now for a free mental health assessment! Inpatient medical detox and primary residential addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up Treatment West Palm Beach.

“Denial is a huge part of the disease of addiction.” Examples of Denial In Addiction/Substance Abuse Video

Lexi’s Addiction Recovery Testimonial

“I don’t use every day. I’m not even sick. I’m not even experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I’m still successful. I still have money in the bank. I still have my family in my life. I still love my house.

These are all common examples of the denial that we experience through the disease of addiction. Denial is a huge part of the disease of addiction and the way that we get our clients to realize that they are addicts and alcoholics is through the assignment.

The goodbye letter seeing the the patterns of the behaviors that they they display when they’re using seeing the consequences of their actions. Whether they want to realize them or not when they write it down it becomes real. When they speak those words to us it becomes real to them.

It’s pen and paper. It’s their words that they’re reading back to themselves. They can see the power that the disease has over their lives and they can no longer say that I’m not an addict. I’m not an alcoholic and there’s power in that and there’s breakthrough.”

Search Zoloft Detox Topics & Resources

[1] [2] Harvard Medical School – https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants

FDA’s Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/daf/index.cfm?event=overview.process&ApplNo=019839

ClinicalTrials.gov: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=&term=sertraline&cntry=US&state=&city=&dist=

National Library of Medicine Drug Information Portal: https://druginfo.nlm.nih.gov/drugportal/name/sertraline

PubMed Central: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/?term=sertraline

National Institute of Mental Health’s Medications Booklet: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/mental-health-medications/sertraline.shtml

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive: https://www.datafiles.samhsa.gov/study-dataset/sertraline-prescriptions-claims-data-medicaid-enrollees-2003

CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db76.htm

HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation: https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/use-antidepressants-among-noninstitutionalized-us-population-2005-2014