sertraline - extreme anxiety

This is my first post.

I’ve recently started taking sertraline 50mg from my doctor for anxiety/depression. My anxiety is now very high and I’m struggling to cope at the moment.

I know increased anxiety is a side effect of the medication, but this is really bad. Should I stick it out? My doctor insists that I need to give it time and that I won’t see any be benefits for 2-3 weeks. I can’t cope with this for that long. I’ve been on then now for 4 days


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39 Replies

  • Hello. I know how you feel I had terrible side effects when going back on antidepressants. It's really horrible I feel for you. My doctor changed them 3 times as was getting them so bad . But after week 5 my depression has lifted. The anxiety I'm suffering is brought on by worrying about health issues . Here to talk if you need to

  • Thanks for the reply 😀

    I’ve just been through an horrendous 18 months. I split with the mother of my son and she stopped me seeing him. I didn’t see him for over a year.

    I’ve been to 6 court hearings that included every false accusation going. I had the final hearing beginning of this month and I finally got a court order giving me contact.

    Leading up to the final hearing a was getting dizzy spells. I now realise these were panic attacks.

    Last Saturday, I went to a shopping centre with a friend and had a full on panic attack.

    Now I’m worried that my anxiety is going to interfere with the contact with my son.

    My heads in a right mess tbh

  • Hi there I think it's worth trying to stick it out if you possibly can as Sertraline have some good results. Keep in touch with your GP as you go and hopefully the side effects will get less and the benefits will increase. Fingers crossed for you.

  • Thanks for the reply 😀I’m going to try and stick it out until Monday. If I don’t feel any better, I don’t think I can continue like this. My anxiety is much worse than it’s ever been before sertraline

  • I hate to say it, but you have to stick it out if you can. When I started sertraline, it was a full 5 weeks before the side effects went away. Heightened anxiety, nausea, jaw clinching, insomnia, feeling tired all the time. It was pretty bad, but I made myself stick it out. It was weeks 6-8 that I really started feeling better.

    I'm glad I did, as I'm 10 times better than before I started the meds. I have my life back now. Try to hang in there if you can and just keep telling yourself that the anxiety is from the meds.

  • I don’t think I can handle this feeling for that long tbh. I can’t help but think that I’ve made the wrong decision to take this drug.

    How long did heightened anxiety last for you? Was it 6-8 weeks? 😳

  • The anxiety probably lasted at least 3 weeks. The nausea and tiredness lasted longer. I had it easy mom and mother-in-law live within 5 minutes of us so they both help watch and take care of the kids while I was having the side effects. I'm a stay at home dad, so I didn't have to worry about going to work and was able to sleep a lot. That helped greatly.

    Also, I found my side effects were less noticeable and more manageable if I took the Seetraline at night around an hour or two before I went to bed. I had started taking it in the mornings, but decide to switch to taking it at night and that helped.

  • I'd have him change it. There are so many to chose from. I'm on Celexa. It worked instantly for me yet sent my son through the roof!

  • I felt the same way when I first started citalopram for about the first week then it eased up my doc also gave me valium to help deal with the heightened anxiety, it took me a long time before I took any because I was scared it might make me feel worse but they are a lifesaver maybe ask your doc to prescribe you something to help until you get used to the meds.

  • Are you in the uk? Think I might call my doctor and ask for something else

  • No I'm in the us.

  • Hello, I was put on Zoloft 50mg about a month ago and my body totally rejected it. I felt it made me feel out of control. I was really concerned so I went back to my doctor and within 4 days of taking it they took me off of the medication. If you are worried about it do not hesitate to go back. You’re not bothering them and it is your choice what you put in your body. Medication definitely is not for everyone. I took zoloft a year before that and was fine then went off it and had a different reaction a year after because our bodies are always changing. There are lots of other ways to help cure anxiety if you so choose to not take the medication side of treating it. Apparently a lot of people swear by CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Counselling) I’m just getting set up with it myself. Try to breathe and stay calm watch funny videos spend time around people as often as you can. Take care

  • That’s how I feel. I just can’t handle this heightened state of anxiety. I feel 10 x times worse than I did.

  • If you want to hear about my experience on the pills you can go read my most recent post (I don’t want to freak you out though as I know it’s already tough going through it) but I can relate and I’m sorry you have been going through this.

  • All SSRI's cause heightened states in the first 7 days ish. Your brain chemistry needs time to settle. You could take 40 mg Propranolol , in parallel for 2 weeks daily, until you level out. Ask your GP.

    Sertraline is the best SSRI for reducting anxiety. It just may take getting through that initial few days before you see the benefit.

  • I've just started taking propanol yesterday. Calmed me right down but don't know if I'm going to get on with it. Feel spaced out I'm on mirtazapine as well

  • Yes, maybe try your GP once youve given it a chance as they will probably suggest you give it a wee while to see how it goes. Unless it's unbearable in which case, I'd tell them this as soon as. At one point I was given a beta blocked on top of SSRI as a short term relief for anxiety attacks and panic attacks. Thankfully this didn't last too long and was due to some situations I was in and problems at the time. I have been on Sertraline for several years now (after being on many different SSRIs over the last 20 years on and off) and know that 50mg is a very small dose, might be worth sticking with it until the side effects have calmed down. I was on Citalopram for anxiety at one point which had a bad affect on me (felt very unmotivated and low as a side effect of it). Guess it depends on what they are trying to treat first. For some people it is the anxious feelings, others it is the low mood. Take care x

  • Thanks for the reply

    For me, it’s anxiety and recently panic attack’s.

  • That was the first medication I tried for anxiety and it did the same thing to me. I had to stop taking it. You know your body. If it's too much, it's too much. Unfortunately, most all of the antidepressants cause the increase in anxiety before it kicks in and helps. :( I don't know your personal story and am not your doctor, but I've learned that medication is not always the best and most effective long term treatment for anxiety disorders. It's actually CBT treatment and exposure therapy.

    I had even tried Cymbalta for panic disorder (I don't remember the generic name), and it sent me to the ER with extremely high blood pressure and anxiety like I had never known before. I told myself then that I would never do that to my body again. Anxiety disorders doesn't have a pill fix all. (I don't know much about clinical depression though. I've only dealt with panic attacks.)

    Anywho, if you can't handle this medication, let your doctor know and ask to try another medication or another type of therapy. That's my best advice. :)

  • It is still early but only you know how you feel and what you can deal with. I was put on celexa end of August had some horrible times but just stuck with it, but it made me so angry like adrenaline throughout my body all the time pins and needles everywhere, total muscle tension head to toe. I would wake up from a dead sleep sweating and in full panic and just want to run, I was on it almost 8 weeks and dr said to come off and now trying me on Prozac, been a week on 10mg now, I do have my days but I guess everyone does even withouth anxiety. Its just when i'm having good days I expect it all the time if that makes sense :) Feel better soon.

  • Hi ger_

    I have been on Sertraline for over 7 years now. I was originally on Citalopram but out of the blue my doctors reduced the dose for no apparent reason so I asked to be put on something else that I could have at a fairly high dose. I started on Sertraline after weaning off Citalopram. I can tell you this was the worst I had felt in terms of anxiety, it was unbearable! My mind was racing constantly, I couldn't sleep, I was sweating, my bowels were working overtime so I had to ask my GP for something else to take the edge off. I was prescribed Bedranol (beta blockers) and this helped while the Sertraline kicked in. I started on 50mg for a few weeks but I was waking up in the morning literally shaking my hands trembling etc but this I later found out is a temporary side effect of the Sertraline. I would say DEFINITELY PERSEVERE! I am now on 150mg and on 250 of Quetiapine as an add on from my Psychiatrist. These really help me sleep too. Any side effects you feel on the Sertraline are very short lived until your body gets used to them. Hope you get some relief soon x Gill x

  • Hi Ger_

    Having said earlier to try and persevere, I didnt have any bad effects from them at all, in fact I took them after having my first "horrendous" panic attacks whilst taking Prozac. Had thought I was dying of a heart attack on several occasions -- I'd thought I had panic attacks before but never like this. I regretted not staying on the Prozac as I'd just started feeling better and no more attacks as I was about to change to Sertraline. I hope the Sertraline works well for you but do discuss with your doctor if you're not feeling good. Good luck.

  • I was put on Sertraline about four months ago, and the first few weeks were an absolute nightmare. Not a day went by where I didn't feel that sense of panic or tightening in my throat, and I often spent my nights after work at my parents' house sobbing my eyes out at the all-encompassing anxiety I felt. It was the worst case of anxiety I'd ever had and I didn't think it was ever going to get better, but I stuck it out and kept with the medication. I didn't have any other choice.

    Two weeks later I had anxiety attacks only two days that week, and then the next week it was only one day, and that was the last one I've had for about three months now. It gets better, it really does. Try doing something that relaxes you in the meantime, like listening to soothing music or doing something mindless like a puzzle. Your anxiety is trying to regain control by making you give up on the medication too soon-- don't let it! SSRIs might be the slowest medications to take effect, but that just means they're also the most effective in getting rid of anxiety for the long term.

    Keep your chin up! It will get better.

  • Hi there Ger,

    It's going to be okay, honestly. I was started on 50mg as well. It's a big change to your system and it will take some time for the effects to settle and for you to become accustomed to the Sertraline. I'm not going to lie to you, for the first 10-14 days of taking the meds I was all over the place with everything. Sleep was very broken and I was constantly tired, in fact my whole body was screaming WTF. I pretty much only got out of bed to pee, get a cup of tea or occasionally some simple food.

    Then it all changed, things improved quite quickly and in a couple of days I was up and about and feeling a hell of a lot better. After about 6 weeks my ability to cope with my anxiety and depression increased significantly. At about 12 weeks I had a wobble and my doctor increased my dosage to 100mg. This didn't bring any additional side effects and within another 2-3 weeks my coping increased again.

    After 6 months on 100mg a personal situation caused a bit of a crisis for me and I was struggling and my doctor increase my dosage to 150mg. For a few days I was off food completely but after that Everything improved my a country mile. I'm now 12 months into the medication and when I look back I'm a completely different person, my mood is so much better, I'm dealing with situations and getting things back together.

    My advice, for what it's worth, is to stick with the medication as it will help but it just takes a little time. Always keep your doctor informed of any side effects you are having and don't be shy in going into detail with them. You have taken a huge step by seeking help. Try to eat healthy, drink plenty of water and if you can get some fresh air. I know it sounds simple but it really helped me.

    I sincerely hope things start to improve for you and if you need too feel free to message me.

  • Ask your doc for a low dose Xanax tab. That will get you over the hump. It did it for me.

  • My doc prescribed 25mg to be cut in half. Take 1/2 for 2 weeks, 1 pill for 2 weeks, 1.5 for 2 weeks till I got to 2. This was due to my fear of side effects. You might want to ask about a lower dose to build a tolerance.

  • Hi sorry to post jump but iv been give a 50mg to start I was going to try halving it to 25mg I'm also terrified of side effects with having small children I don't want to to be poorly and not be able to manage. Thank you

  • Hi I to took sertraline for 4 weeks I was absolutely just like you twice as bad on 50mg the minute I halved the tablet I felt so much better then came off altogether do what's right for you as sertraline can take up to 8 weeks to treat anxiety you will feel better.Then you can give your best to your boy.

  • Unfortunately increased anxiety is a side effect with this drug for the first two to three weeks. You often feel worse before you start to feel better. Try and persevere or ask your doctor to give you something to help with the anxiety until the antidepressant effect kicks in. When I started taking them I was given Lorazepam short term until the anxiety subsided. Once my depression started to lift the anxiety got better. If this doesn't work though, ask your doctor to look at another drug. In the end I was on Mirtazapine and Venlafaxine and that turned out to be an excellent combination for me personally, but everyone is different. Good luck.

  • Just stick it out, it’s supposed to start working successfully at 6-8 weeks. Don’t change the meds too fast! Hope u feel better soon!

  • Hello, Sorry to hear your suffering... A few months ago I tried sertraline 50mg for my anxiety and had horrid side effects. I was on Klonopin at the same time and even that didn't help the increased anxiety that the sertraline caused. I stopped taking it and saw the doctor, he said we would try it again starting with only a 1/4 of a pill then increasing to 1/2 and so on. Well same results and he took me off of it. I had bad experiences in the past with anti depressants for anxiety and figured I would give it one more try. He believes that it is the way my body metabolizes the drug, it is a genetic issue. So basically what happens in layman terms is there is a build up of the drug in your system because it doesn't metabolize it properly or quickly enough. There is a saliva test you can take to determine how your body will react to certain meds so you can avoid going through the bad side effects. There is no quick fix for anxiety , I have been suffering from it for over 30 years. Best results I've had is with therapy and relaxation techniques so its back to the basics for me. I wish you luck and would look into getting tested if your having that difficult a time.

  • You could stop taking them.And try again later when you feel stronger or more prepared for any anxiety. could halve the dose.25mg. (This is how I did it several years ago!) could get a prescription for diazepam/tranquillisers and use them.even if you have to have heavy doses all the time,the serotonin will still be building up in your system and as such you will feel much better in 2 weeks and any side effects will then be gone.

  • Oh,I should say I am in the u.k.,I am a consultant psychologist and I was so incredibly sensitive to sertraline that 1.i started on half the minimum dose(25mg.)and 2.i had no negative effects yet felt my depression sliced in 2 after just 5 days.

    Later I increased the dose to 50mg,the minimum accepted dose ,after a few days I went through 10 days of hell after which I felt absolutely wonderful,cured!

    So obviously the negative effects are dosage related completely and it is fine to start on a smaller dose,even 10mg(if you can manage to cut the pill that small?)Your negative side effects will be less or not there at all but you are still building the drug up in your brain.

  • Hi there,

    I was recently prescribed Sertraline from my family GP for worsening anxiety upon simultaneously moving house and starting a new job. The side effects were disasterous for me. On day three I could barely recognise myself.... a shakey, headachy nervous ball of energy... I literally felt like I was on speed t was horrible. The days after my anxiety worsened similarly to you, and the panic attacks came in full swing (I hadnt had panic attacks previously) My partner kept telling me that I was worse on the tablet, but my GP told me to persevere for at least two weeks. By a fortnight I felt like I was going insane from lack of sleep, anxiety and also depression and feelings of guilt and shame. I went back to the doctor and came off of it immediately. In total I was taking 25mg for eighteen days.

    As my main issue was night anxiety and insomnia my doc allowed me to trial Amitriptyline 10mg at night time. It helps me sleep and eases my anxiety a little. I also do meditation and hypnotherapy which really helps.

    I was in a terrible place two weeks ago and have been able to pull myself out of it since stopping Sertraline. I guess it's just important to be aware that some drugs aren't going to agree with us, and to trust what your body is telling you. I'm not sure if I just wimped out too early because the SE were too much but I am very glad that I did stop. Always here if you need a chat anyways. L x

  • Quick update,

    The last few days have been hell! But today has been much better. My anxiety feels much better and the depression that I’ve had last few days has gone.

    I’ve started eating again too.

    I had a really strange few hours were I felt like I was full of energy and the sensation they I wanted to gurn or grind my teeth. But that went after a few hours.

    Doctor would only give me zopiclone, I took one 2 hours ago and feel nothing off 3.75mg. But I feel much better than I did last few days. Hopefully, I’m getting used to it, but I’m still prepared for the worst. At least I know it the drugs rather than me now 🙏🏻

    Thank you for all your replies. I appreciate each one

  • Glad to hear it! Hang in will get better.

  • I felt the same way! I really thought that it wasn’t working but sure enough after the medicine is in your body for some time you can actually feel the difference! I think you should stick it out the medicine gives us a bit of side effects but the outcome is better in my personal opinion.

  • Just keep taking , it will take 2-3 weeks

  • @ger i was on sertraline too at one time. it worked well for many years (10 yrs than it poop out and had to switch to another SSRI medicine) what i've learn from taking SSRI's is that it could take btw 6-8 wks to feel the effects. the full effect may take as long as 12 wk (if it hasn't worked by then u may have to try a new medicine). the change might happen slowly. by wk 4 u should feel less anxiety. if the anxiety lessens, that means the medicine is starting to work just be patient. i wish a doctor would have let me know this. this is the reason some ppl switch meds so often-bcs they don't give enough time for a medicine to are you doing now? hope it's working out for u.

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