Did Zoloft work for you?
October 18, 2008 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Anyone have positive experiences with Zoloft?

I just started on 25mg of Zoloft to treat anxiety and depression. I'm terrified of getting unpleasant side effects and I know that this can happen until the positive effects kick in.

I'm one of those people who does way too much research on medications and it always screws with my head to see too much negative feedback online. It would be very encouraging to hear from people who have had a good experience with the drug to stick with it.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just remember that most online feedback about medications is negative. People are much more likely to go and complain about something than they are to sing its praises.

Good luck!
posted by sunshinesky at 2:37 PM on October 18, 2008

My ex-girlfriend has been on it for a few years and probably will be on it for a while longer. She's a mature, responsible, warm, wonderful human being and we'd probably still be together if she hadn't completed her PhD and moved out of state.
posted by SpecialK at 2:47 PM on October 18, 2008

I know WAY too many people on Zoloft. For me it was terrible, but for others it's been good.
SSRIs are finicky. But there are tons of them, and each is slightly different. So, while it may be a hassle to slowly work your way through dosage, time of dosage and type of SSRI, you're almost certainly going to find a treatment that works for you - that means, one that makes the symptoms go away to a point where life gets back to normal, yet at the same time you still feel like the same person, only healthy. Assume you are going to have to do some experimentation, and be very active with your prescribing physician to get the right pill and the right dosage. Be a patient patient.
posted by johngumbo at 2:50 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

A very dear friend of mine is a changed man after starting Zoloft. It really works for him.
posted by kamikazegopher at 2:58 PM on October 18, 2008

This was over 15 years ago when I took Zoloft, but it worked well for me. I didn't notice any side effects. I did notice that after a few weeks it evened me out emotionally which was what I needed at that time in life. Every day things weren't such a huge burden and I was able to function.

For example, One day I walked out to my car and my gas cap had been stolen. Before I would have been immediately irritated at that. My thought process would have gone similar to this:

Why was this happening to me? I have all these other things to do. Now I have to deal with this. I can't deal with this! Why does this always happen. And it would just snowball from there, gathering up everything that was wrong in my life until I couldn't function for the rest of the day.

For some reason I didn't think that way that day. I just went and bought a new gas cap. It was a beautiful, simple breakthrough for me.

I stayed on it for maybe a year. The doctor had gradually increased my dose at the beginning. Towards the end I started to forget to take it. I just didn't think about it. I was in cognitive therapy at the time and my therapist thought I was naturally not needing it anymore. I was titrated off over the next few weeks.

A friend noticed a decrease in sexual desire when he took it. I didn't notice that. I was alone at the time, but when sexual opportunity was available to me and I was interested in that, the feelings were there (this was closer to the end of my zoloft coverage - I think it was also just a natural progression of my getting better).

Everyone is different. johngumbo is right about these meds being finicky. Talk with your theapist/doc. They're probably starting you off at a low dose to see how you tolerate it. And if it does well they'll go from there. It's never a bad thing to be informed. That's really a smart thing for you to do. But you have to balance the information you read online, vs. anecdotal experience with what your doctor says. Your doctor should be your primary source of information since they know you the best. The internet and anecdotes can be full of incorrect stuff as I'm sure you know. This is your experience, not everyones rolled together. Best of luck to you. It gets better.
posted by dog food sugar at 4:08 PM on October 18, 2008

It works for me. If it screws with your sleep schedule, take it at night instead of in the morning.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:20 PM on October 18, 2008

I've been on it for three or so years, for anxiety. It works really well for me, and the side effects haven't been bad. The only issues I had were some nasty nightmares when the dosage was raised a couple of times. That stopped when I switched to taking it first thing in the morning instead of before bed. Other than that, no problems at all, and I'm very happy to be able to leave the house without having a panic attack.
posted by sarcasticah at 4:26 PM on October 18, 2008

It has really helped a dear friend of mine overcome her post-partum depression.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:04 PM on October 18, 2008

The thing about drugs is that any individuals response can be radically different from everyone else. There will come a day when they can look at particular makers in you DNA and say, "Oh, here's the one for you." We ain't there yet. My personal advice is, let someone close know when you are going on any new drug so they can let you know if you're acting weird somehow.

On a more personal level, after this I was on Xanax for a while. If you read the web you'd believe Xanax was a mixture of white star heroin and curare. All it did for me was allow me to reestablish my sleep patterns without having to "go on patrol" every time a heard a funny noise.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:04 PM on October 18, 2008

It did wonders for me when I had post-partum depression.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:12 PM on October 18, 2008

I was on it for a short period of time that was also some of the most horrible months of my life. I had very few side effects that passed in the first week and everything suddenly went calm. I had a similar reaction as did Dog Food Sugar,above. Events that previously sent me into a sobbing heap of hysterics bounced right off me. I wasn't numb to them - they just didn't bother me. It was as if the button in my head marked "depressive meltdown" had a nice big cover screwed over it so it never got pressed. Emotionally, everything else was unchanged - I felt happy or sad about things, but without the shadows on my shoulder. I remember thinking one day "Wow, this what it must be like for normal people!".

The worst thing reaction that I had to it was that my libido vanished completely, which is mostly why I went off it as soon as my situation got better. I miss the calmness, but I like the sex. :)
posted by ninazer0 at 5:16 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Worked great for me. Minimal side effects, dramatic improvement in mood and functionality.

Didn't work at all for my sister.

Quit reading about medicine on the internet. Including this thread.
posted by Ookseer at 5:26 PM on October 18, 2008

Another positive experience here.
posted by Ruki at 5:42 PM on October 18, 2008

It has worked the best for me of the mental health drugs I have tried over the last 20 years (others were : Prozac, Wellbutrin, Effexor. Effexor, was also very effective, but it made me love to drink! Which didn't end up being a good thing for me). I have been on it twice, both times for 18 months. The last time I was taking Zoloft for social anxiety when I had a job that required a lot of public speaking/interaction (which I know many people think social anxiety is a made up medical diagnosis for what is basically shyness, however, I would literally have a panic attack and not be able to speak in front of a room of people). This drug took about 30 days before I noticed the fact that I basically didn't have social anxiety anymore.

The one big side effect it had on me is I gained about 25 pounds on it (I'm a big guy anyway, but I went from 235 to 260). Also, I found that it sort of "narrowed my band" of possible emotions. This was very good as I was nervous and anxious at the beginning, but I found that it made me sort of aloof and robotic across the board. I would not ever be quite as sad as before, but also never quite as happy. I did also experience some sexual side effects, but as a guy these actually ended up helping my performance...

Some of the best advice I have ever had from a therapist is that anti-depression drugs should be used like a "cast" on a broken leg. Meaning that it's a good way to quickly stabilize or improve a situation, but while you are taking the drug you should be planning on developing other long-term coping mechanisms so that you don't have to permanently rely on these types of drugs to function. I would think 18-24 months would be the longest I would recommend anyone being on an anti-depressant unless you are have suicidal type depression. I really believe in the idea that many of the same effects of these types of drugs can be gained from exercise and good diet, but those things take a lot more time and effort, so again the drug is useful as a jump start. Lastly, make sure you plan your weaning off the drug carefully. It has one of the worst withdrawal type symptoms that I have ever experienced, you want to step down the amount you take of the drug very gradually.
posted by ill3 at 5:47 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was on it for two years. I went from being someone so riddled with anxiety that I could barely drive to a normally functioning, confident human being in less than a month. It made me calm and at ease.

That said, I gained 50-60 pounds in a year. I also lost my libido. I saw a doctor for this and they tested and retested my thyroid, claiming that Zoloft couldn't do this. After the next year with even more weight gain, I'd had enough and got myself in to see both a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Both of them acknowledged that weight gain was common on Zoloft and they immediately started me on therapy while weaning me off the medicine.

I agree with ill3 in that it should be used like a "cast" on a broken leg. I think a year on the medicine would have been enough for me. I was able to reapproach my life and learn how to live without anxiety. That said, it's different for everyone.

I guess that my best advice would be to enjoy the positive side of the medicine, but know that there are lots of other options in case Zoloft isn't right for you. It might be wise to consult a doctor that has a little more experience with anti-anxiety medicine than your average GP.
posted by bristolcat at 6:39 PM on October 18, 2008

Very positive. I am a very high functioning but chronic depressive who has been treated since 1991. Went through Elavil, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Effexor, and an MAOI. None of these were as effective for me as Zoloft has been.
posted by jeanmari at 7:53 PM on October 18, 2008

While ill3 and bristolcat may have been able to use their AD's as a cast, some of the unlucky few of us need to use an AD like a diabetic would use insulin. It's not my preference, I'm not a fan of medication, and it would certainly cost me less in money and aggravation to NOT have to be on it. It is what it is. If you can use it as a crutch, more power to you. But don't let anyone make you feel weak or terrible about needing it for longer periods of time, if you and your doctor decide that is best for you.
posted by jeanmari at 7:56 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have. I've been on a minimal dose for about 7 years. It's helped me deal with repetitive thoughts. I gained a little weight, but not much. Most side effects go away after a couple weeks. The only thing I have to say, is that if you feel your mood slipping and getting worse, don't be butch about it, get to a doctor ASAP.

People react very differently to anti-depressants, so don't freak out if you hear that other people have not done well on Zoloft. But don't let anyone keep you on anything for more than a couple of weeks if it is not helping. Good luck. I hope you find something that will help you.

If it doesn't work, you might try a completely different kind of antidepressant like wellbutrin. I am not a doctor, but I am happy with minimal medication.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:00 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

CwglrUP's wife here: I started taking Paxil and that didn't work for me and I hesitantly switched to Zoloft. And surprising it worked for me.

To be honest you are not really taking that much of it, I'm taking four times the mg you are, and I've had no negative side effects.
posted by CwgrlUp at 8:01 PM on October 18, 2008

My short experience with it lowered my libido and made me extremely emotional and unsure of myself when they were prescribed for mood issues!

posted by mnology at 8:02 PM on October 18, 2008

No negative side effects here, but it stopped being effective after a few months. (Like everything else I've taken.)
posted by iguanapolitico at 8:24 PM on October 18, 2008

I took Zoloft for a bit over a year and I found it really helpful for my depression, but not my anxiety. The side effects at first were constant fatigue and weird gastrointestinal issues, but the latter cleared up in about 3 weeks. I also gained about 10lbs over the course of the year, but I'm not convinced that that was entirely due to the Zoloft.

My doctor kept increasing my dose in the hopes that it would also alleviate my anxiety but at 150mg it turned me into a drugged-up zombie unable to stay awake for any reasonable period of time and get anything done. I ended up needing to switch to another AD to adequately handle both the depression and the anxiety, but YMMV.

I would think 18-24 months would be the longest I would recommend anyone being on an anti-depressant unless you are have suicidal type depression.

This isn't at all true for everyone. In my darkest moments I've never had suicidal ideation but it's pretty clear to me and my doctor that I will need to be on antidepressants for a long time, and it's not that big of a deal.
posted by thisjax at 9:05 PM on October 18, 2008

Zoloft has been very helpful to me for some years now. I've never experienced negative side effects from it, and Prozac (usually considered pretty slow pitch in that regard) gave me heartburn and didn't help anything. Nthing not to despair if you have to try more than one med.

Some info which may be useful to you: There are two U.S. manufacturers of the Zoloft generic equivalent, sertraline. Both work, but one manufacturer's tablets work noticeably better for me than the other. So if you're taking generic and you notice a shift, that may be why. (The manufacturer is generally listed on the prescription bottle.)

Also, what jeanmari said. Not everyone uses antidepressants like a cast, and suicidal thoughts aren't a line of demarcation.
posted by gnomeloaf at 10:02 PM on October 18, 2008

jeanmari, gnomeloaf : Sorry if I came off insensitive and my casual suggestion that only the suicidal would need to be on it long term was obviously a gross simplification in an already overly long post. Certainly, as someone who has struggled with these issues all of my life myself, I would hate for people to think that I'm saying that anyone who has to be on these medications long term is some sign of weakness. My only reason to suggest that it's best to go into it with the idea of using it as a cast is because in my opinion too many doctors begin with the approach of, oh you have a chemical imbalance, just take this thing for the rest of your life and you will be fine. I have seen some doctors don't encourage the patient to seek other forms of relief, be it exercise, diet, talk therapy, meditation, whatever, etc. I think experimenting with these other forms of relief is something everyone should at least try, whether you require the medicine for the rest of your life or not.
posted by ill3 at 11:32 PM on October 18, 2008

I've been on it five years. It kicked in within a week and changed my life. No side effects to speak of, and these have been easily the happiest five years of my life.

I'm a long-term chronic depressive as well and it was a tremendous surprise to discover, at age 32, that the repetitive thoughts and social anxiety and most of the anger were not, in fact, *me.* Yeah, maybe my medicated self is not my real self either (although this calls into question what exactly you mean by "real", "self" and "is.") But I like this me much better.
posted by rdc at 11:49 PM on October 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I had a friend who was on Zoloft, though she wasn't particularly diligent about taking it. She had been of and on various SSRIs for at least the four years which I had known her by then, and she had been trying to wean herself off Zoloft against doctors' orders. Then one night she attempted suicide by. . . trying to OD on Zoloft.

Not to worry though: she only had about a dozen pills left, and when she finished those, she got scared, and called someone. Given her ample access to cleaning supplies, this led me and everyone else to conclude that it was kind of a half-assed attempt. The upshot is that Zoloft is apparently not particularly toxic (the ER doc said she hadn't taken nearly enough for them to be more than mildly concerned), and the only real effect was that she was completely wired for about 50 hours straight. Apparently the only reported deaths from Zoloft OD involve drug/drug interaction, booze, or both, so it's pretty safe. Her friends were pretty annoyed, but she wound up being just fine.

She went straight back on Zoloft, for real this time, and has been much more stable for the four years since the incident. Hasn't tried anything silly again. My only suggestion here would be to take the amount prescribed by your doctor and try not to deviate from that prescription without his approval.
posted by valkyryn at 5:43 AM on October 19, 2008

Previously I said: No negative side effects here, but it stopped being effective after a few months. (Like everything else I've taken.)

Actually, this thread just reminded me that Zoloft did make me sleepy. Not all the time ... just at times when I might already feel sleepy, but more exaggeratedly. In particular, when I was driving. I had a 60-90 minute drive to work, and more than once I had to exit the highway to nap in a parking lot, lest I fall asleep at the wheel. I'm prone to getting sleepy while driving anyway, but usually on long road trips, not on a commute to work.

But I don't remember this affecting me any other time of day.
posted by iguanapolitico at 7:20 AM on October 19, 2008

I was prescribed Zoloft for PTSD in 2002 and am still on 200mg today.

Some mild intestinal distress (diarrhoea) when starting (25mg) and when increasing the dose. , but that settled down quickly and wasn't a deal killer. Although I don't think that I was particularly depressed, I do seem to be more relaxed at life's little misfortunes since starting.

Horses for courses. If you start, do persevere for a little while though.
posted by Flashduck at 1:53 AM on October 23, 2008

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