[Mental Health Awareness Week – Post 1 – Talking about Zoloft]
As Zoloft is the most prescribed antidepressant and the second most prescribed pychiatric medication, a lot of people in the mental health community know about it or take it themselves.
Everytime someone found out I also take them I was asked a ton of questions about my experience with it. I was asked on tumblr, facebook, instagram, just random chats, ..
So let’s talk about it.
First of all, what the hell is Zoloft?
Zoloft or Sertraline is an an antidepressant used to treat
Depression, Anxiety, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), Panic Disorder (with or without Agoraphobia), Social Anxiety, Phobias, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Eating Disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
How does it work?
Sertraline belongs to a group of drugs called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), it is also a dopamine reuptake inhibitor.
So basically what it does is increasing the dose of the sertraline and dopamine in your brain. Those neurotransmitters are chemicals that relay signals between the cells in the brain.
Clients with depressive or anxiety disorders do produce way less of those chemicals, so by upping the dose in the brain sertraline is thought to improve the symptoms.
I’ve been taking Zoloft for almost 1 and 1/2 year now. I started with 25mg/day, at the moment I take 175mg/day. The highest dose you can take per day is 200mg.
My psychiatrist prescribed it to me before having an ECG and a full blood count done, but only because of the bad state I was in. You should really get those things done before starting your medication, because otherwise it could be extremely dangerous.
At the first 1 or 2 weeks I didn’t recognize anything besides not being able to sleep and my OCD being worse. Week 3 and 4 were the hardest, I had a lot of side effects like being extremely exhausted but having insomnia, being really hungry or not hungry at all, feeling nauseous and dizzy all the time (great for my phobia – not), having to yawn like every 2 seconds which is embarassing and exhausting, not feeling present at all and stuff like that.
But after 1 month I started to feel less anxious and less depressed, getting out of bed and the house was easier, my phsyical symptoms almost dissappeared and my therapist said that I seemed to be a lot more present and “alive”.
Having the meds and not wanting to go to the psych ward I started going to school again, which I definitely wouldn’t be able to do without meds.
I could start therapy after like 2 months of taking Zoloft and was able to get inpatient in a different hospital that was 10(!) hours away from my hometown (imagine having agoraphobia and being that far away from home for 1/4 year).
Everytime we upped my dose I had like 1 week of side effects, but felt better after my body got used to the higher dose. As I already said I’m currently taking 175mg and we decided not to stop or switch to another med yet, because it’s a really high risk.
Something you really should know about Sertraline is that in the beginning it quite often increases the amount of suicidal thoughts someone is experiencing and it’s known to be able to lead to suicide, so if you’re experiencing these sideeffects you should immediately tell your doctor!