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Intense Dread / Chest Tightness On Day 6


tor

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Hi everyone,

 

Thank you so much for this forum - it's been a lifesaver to read!

I started taking Zoloft 6 days ago (25mg first 3 days up to 50mg for the past 3 days) for constant anxiety. 

 

I'm not experiencing any new symptoms or side effects, just a worsening of my condition. I've had a constant feeling of dread in my heart, which is 5x worse on Zoloft now. My thoughts are endlessly negative and afraid, although no suicidal thoughts.

 

I've read that the worsening of anxiety can be common with SSRIs for the first few weeks, so should I just stick it out? This is absolutely miserable :(

Thanks!

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Hi tor,

 

I'm so sorry to hear how miserable you are. :(  It truly is a terrible thing to go through (if you are an anxiety sufferer, especially). Worsening of anxiety is extremely common when starting an SSRI, but it is supposedly a good sign when that happens, because it means the medicine is adjusting your body's anxiety response and will ultimately help you a great deal.

 

Zoloft start-up effects can be torturous (as I'm sure you have read) and can take up to 2 weeks to subside. Every time there is a dosage change, you are susceptible to another round of start-up effects. Your doctor upped your dosage after only 3 days, so your body hasn't had a chance to catch up yet. I am not a doctor, but I'm wondering why your doctor even put you on 25mg to start if you were just going to move to 50mg after 3 days. It seems like you are suffering more because not only is your body trying to get used to Zoloft, it is also trying to get used to a new dose of Zoloft.

 

My advice is to hang in there. The extra anxiety WILL go away and the Zoloft will kick in and handle your regular anxiety. You will feel SO much better!

 

Is there some anti-anxiety medicine you can get temporarily until you get through these first two weeks? Benzos are amazing at removing anxiety, but there are dependency issues so some doctors won't prescribe them and some patients won't touch them. Personally, I would get a prescription for Valium or one of the other benzos for the next two weeks to alleviate your anxiety... but if benzos are out of the question you could get a prescription for Hydroxyzine which is an antihistamine with anti-anxiety properties. It's not a controlled substance and is not habit-forming so it is a good option for a lot of people. Side note: You shouldn't take any natural supplements like Valerian Root because it interferes with Zoloft's absorption. I learned that the hard way!

 

I know how awful it feels right now but you're almost out of the woods... just another week or two and you'll be feeling much better, I promise.

 

-Deb

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Hi deboriole, thank you so much for your response! You've given me tons of hope to hang in there. I'm so relieved to know that this is a normal response in the beginning. I don't even know if this is anxiety or depression, I just keep seeing my worst fears play over and over again. No matter how hard I try to meditate or think positively, they are consuming me. Oh well, I'm determined to stick with it. I'm okay with braving the storm for my future self! 

 

My doctor does not prescribe benzos, but that's okay - I will ask him about Hydroxyzine! Thanks very much for the tip :)

 

I really, really appreciate your encouragement and kind words. I hope this is the start of a new path to happiness! 

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I'm just going to use this thread to journal & keep me sane :) Today is Day 8 (I made it one week!) - the anxiety is still constant and unbearable, but I have faith that it will get better. It has not introduced any new symptoms, just worsening of my existing symptoms, which makes me think it's acting on the right things.

 

Hoping for brighter days in week 2!

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I'm just going to use this thread to journal & keep me sane :) Today is Day 8 (I made it one week!) - the anxiety is still constant and unbearable, but I have faith that it will get better. It has not introduced any new symptoms, just worsening of my existing symptoms, which makes me think it's acting on the right things.

 

Hoping for brighter days in week 2!

 

Tor - good luck with your adjustment to Zoloft and stay strong! The early days are the hardest. I think keeping a journal here is a great idea. I know it sounds a little "nutty", but when I first went on Zoloft and only felt the bad mood/anxiety side effects, I'd lay down and tell myself "The med is trying so hard to work right now that things are in chaos. Eventually it will work and things will settle down." I think it helped to remind myself that what I felt wasn't permanent, because as I'm sure you know, even 5 minutes with bad anxiety feels like 5 minutes too long.

 

:flowers:

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Thank you so much for your encouragement 

 

 

I'm just going to use this thread to journal & keep me sane :) Today is Day 8 (I made it one week!) - the anxiety is still constant and unbearable, but I have faith that it will get better. It has not introduced any new symptoms, just worsening of my existing symptoms, which makes me think it's acting on the right things.

 

Hoping for brighter days in week 2!

 

Tor - good luck with your adjustment to Zoloft and stay strong! The early days are the hardest. I think keeping a journal here is a great idea. I know it sounds a little "nutty", but when I first went on Zoloft and only felt the bad mood/anxiety side effects, I'd lay down and tell myself "The med is trying so hard to work right now that things are in chaos. Eventually it will work and things will settle down." I think it helped to remind myself that what I felt wasn't permanent, because as I'm sure you know, even 5 minutes with bad anxiety feels like 5 minutes too long.

 

:flowers:

 

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, neurotic_lady89! I can't believe how nice everyone has been on this forum :) Really helps when starting something so unknown/scary. I tried telling myself the medicine is trying hard to work, and it really made me feel better. Kind of like we're a team or something!

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Today is Day 10 and things are finally looking so much better. I don't exactly feel good, but the horrible thoughts have lessened considerably. Hours go by without them, which is such a huge improvement! I am feeling closer to how things were right before Zoloft (not good, but not painful). I hope this means the side effects are starting to subside and the benefits will be on the way soon. Also, slightly TMI, but the sexual side effects have also subsided :) 

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YAY! I am so happy to hear you're coming out of the terrible start-ups!

 

You're right that the benefits will start to increase now. The worst is behind you!

 

Now, don't be alarmed if you have a bad day now and again, or even just a bad partial day. It's very easy to get discouraged when you have any sort of set back.

 

Congrats on your progress, and keep us posted on how you're doing!

 

-Deb

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Day 12! As you predicted, deboriole, I've definitely experienced some bad times, but they're becoming less frequent - especially at night! Last night, I actually went to sleep feeling calm and okay. When the negative thoughts came in, I felt like I could just brush them aside for the ridiculousness that they were. 

 

I'm still waking up very early (2am, 3am, 4am, etc) but this was a problem before Zoloft. I'm feeling hopeful that things are going to get better!

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Checking in on Day 13 :) Mornings are still very difficult for me. One silver lining about the increased anxiety is that it's helping me to very clearly identify my biggest triggers and worries, since everything is so amplified. 

 

Then on my walk to work today, I had these wonderful feelings of optimism and hope and none of these thoughts scared me anymore. It was over in about 20 minutes, but it was a welcome relief. 

 

I am worried that my anxiety/thoughts are still bad on Day 13, since most people seem to think the startup anxiety goes away after 1-2 weeks, so I'm reaching the end of that. Going to just stick with it though!

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Definitely stick with it! Those wonderful feelings of optimism and hope will increase as time goes on, and pretty soon they will replace the negative thoughts completely. Your anxiety should go away very soon if you're already to Day 13!  :)

Thanks so much! I really appreciate all of your support through these difficult few weeks :) 

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Day 14: I am really struggling today. I have no idea what's going on, but I keep waking up at 3am and 4am with that awful dread feeling. It hasn't gone away all day :( I'm frustrated because I went to the gym last night and am really trying to do everything I can to help my body. 

 

Is it normal to still feel this way at the 2 week mark? 

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The start-up side effects usually go away around the two week mark, so it could be that you'll start feeling better in the next couple of days. The dread might not be a start-up effect... it could be something your Zoloft will fix, given enough time. It's hard to put a time limit on when medications will start helping more than hurting because everyone has different reactions. If you are still feeling the dread feeling in another few days, I would talk to your doctor about it, and see if you should increase your dose or get a secondary drug to help out... or if you should just stick it out.

 

I had all sorts of complications when I was depressed/panicky. I was put on all sorts of benzos and my doses and meds were switched around, and I basically felt doomed for two months straight. But that wasn't Zoloft's fault... I had a lot of interactions between all of my meds. Xanax ER and Klonopin were fighting each other which made everything worse. I guess my point is that everyone's situation is different, and I would keep thinking positively and look at all of the progress you have made so far. You will get rid of the nasty thoughts and feelings of dread, but it might be awhile, and possibly on a higher dose. Just be patient with yourself... you are going through a lot!

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Thanks deboriole! I actually called my psychiatrist today and he told me to stop taking it because the increased anxiety/dread could be a sign of underlying bipolar. I guess I'm sort of bummed out now because I made it this long, and it was all for nothing. I have no idea where to turn now :(

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I have never heard feelings of dread on Zoloft being a sign of bi-polar. I am not saying your doctor is wrong, but everyone I have seen post about being bi-polar have multiple bouts of mania while on Zoloft. Do you think you are bi-polar? Do you typically have a lot of mood swings?

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I have never heard feelings of dread on Zoloft being a sign of bi-polar. I am not saying your doctor is wrong, but everyone I have seen post about being bi-polar have multiple bouts of mania while on Zoloft. Do you think you are bi-polar? Do you typically have a lot of mood swings?

Not that I know of - most people tell me I'm super easy going and calm. I really identify a lot more with the anxiety/depression descriptions, but I could definitely be wrong. I'm going to call him tomorrow and ask if it would be okay to try the Zoloft for another week just to see if I notice any improvements. 

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