I Beat Postpartum Depression: Life After Zoloft

Sharing the picture of MY pill bottle with MY medication inside is much harder than I expected.  I had postpartum depression and have been very vocal about it, but something about this picture makes it real and true? I feel exposed. As sad as it is, mental health stigma is real, even against myself. . .


 Zoloft for PPD

UPDATE 2017: I originally hit publish on the post in 2014. I have BEAT postpartum depression! Much to my surprise I have had a second child, a sweet baby girl! BUT — I have continued Zoloft. It was a choice made by my body as I also have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Yay! I have an illness that is managed with medication. I don’t consider it a failure to NEED to treat my depression with medication because I am living a wonderfully happy fulfilled life, that I am able to fully participate in. A life that I did not think was possible. Just know that if medication is whats working for you. That is OK! You are winning!


Wow. Today is a day that I will never forget. I am 1 year 9 months and 26 days postpartum. I began treatment for Postpartum Depression & Anxiety in July of 2013.

And…

Today, is the first day that I have not felt the “need” to take Sertraline (Zoloft).

Over the past 12-ish weeks I have become intensely in tune with my body. Possibly to a fault.

On week 9 of the 12 Week Body Transformation there was an undeniable shift. I just knew I was ready to move toward the next step of recovery from this beast and wean myself from medication.

I wont lie I did experience glimmers of fear. A bunch of “what if’s” flooded my mind, but just like I knew Ari was ready for Pre-School I just knew I was ready to take this BIG step as well.

How I Discontinued Zoloft

I admit — I did not consult my Psychiatrist, but we had discussed the possibility of discontinuation previously and how that would look. Also, being that in my past life I was a nurse I felt confident moving forward. πŸ™‚

It’s no exact science

  • I went a few days taking only 1 pill
  • then 1/2 a pill
  • then today…NO pill

Each morning I would evaluate how I felt and I was honest with myself.  If I felt I needed that one pill or 1/2 pill I took it. No guilt.

I wasn’t evaluating whether I felt “depressed” or my “feelings” per se. The only way I know to put it is that I was evaluating my inner-self. Asking myself if I needed help that day.

I attempted to quit Zoloft in the past. Because I felt I SHOULD. Not because I felt my body was READY. This made all the difference.

How I Feel After Discontinuing Zoloft

I feel like a woman.

A good friend of mine who had a similar postpartum experience said, after she discontinued her medication that she had a “fuller range of emotions” and I agree. My edges aren’t as sharp and I LOVE it!

Hubby made me cry today (not on purpose)! At first I had a flashback to the many terror filled tears that poured from my eyes while my depression and anxiety were at their worse. But this felt different — I am emotional but not depressed and it was AMAZING. I actually thanked him for that experience. In that moment he thought I needed to reevaluate the decision to stop the meds. Ha!

Also I am sleeping like an adult! Meaning I’m getting DEEP sleep and I fall asleep quickly. The whole sleeping like a baby thing is a total lie … Babies don’t sleep! At least my baby didn’t sleep.

Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms In Myself & My Nursling

  • One interesting “side effect” I’ve noticed is numbness around my mouth only when I move quickly and only for a split second. It’s kind of that light-headed feeling you may experience if you stand too quickly but for me it’s a tingling around my mouth with an audible “woosh” sound?? They are referred to as “brain zaps” around the internet.
  • The evening of the day that I was completely weaned, my toddler experienced nausea and vomiting. Only for that one evening. He had no fever and acted pretty normal. The the only thing I could think was that he was feeling the shift. Which of course upset me, as Zoloft is “supposed” to be one of the safest SSRI’s for nursing moms — especially since he is such a big boy (33 pounds at 1-year-old) the minuscule amounts that he would get via milk should have been negligible. Could it be a coincidence… of course but who really knows…

 

A few other symptoms I experience were:

  • Bloating… like my pants feel uncomfortable and I feel fat.
  • Nausea 
  • Hot Flashes

Even though I feel guilty that Ari was affected, the guilt doesn’t dig as deeply. Because I know that if it weren’t for this medication, he may not have a mommy at all.

On the other side of PPD

I beat that SOB…

I. Beat. It…

I am in no way AT ALL the woman I was before pregnancy. I am so much better. I have a story. I have depth…I see and approach the world in a whole new way. I have an un-measurable compassion for others… the world and MYSELF!

The Lord has absolutely SCHOOLED me over the last 2 plus years. I have been through it… and you know what? I would not change one second of misery and suffering I endured. It a purification of sorts.

Romans 5:3-5(NLT)3

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

My New “Drugs” Of Choice. The Three F’s

Food, Fitness and Faith!

Fitness- It’s no accident that I felt the strength to wean from my anti-depressant while in the midst of a 12 Week Transformation. We all hear that exercise produces endorphins. Fitness HAS to be a part of my life, in order for me to have life.

Food- My Nutrition has greatly improved this year. We are now vegetarian and I’m a super-food junkie. I love Green Vibrance  by Vibrant Health. I drink it every single day.

β€œLet food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
― Hippocrates

I also take Vitamin D-3 and A Sublingual B-12 supplement daily.

Faith- I make sure to get a full dose of God every single morning to start my day with love in my heart and on my mind. I have had the divine pleasure of stumbling upon “A Course In Miracles” and It has added such clarity and meaning to my life here on earth. My outlook on life really has immeasurable power.

“I am only here to be truly helpful. I am here to represent Him who sent me. I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me. I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me. I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.”

β€” Excerpted from A Course in Miracles

Mental Illness is Real & Medication Really Does Help

I will say this.

When I was in the pits I KNEW I needed help. When I started taking Zoloft I felt better almost immediately. Because my body NEEDED those chemicals to pull through.

Once my body began to heal, once I began ovulating again and my hormones “settled” a little I KNEW my body didn’t NEED them anymore and again I now feel even better almost immediately.

Once my son is done nursing my hormones will shift again and hopefully I feel even better!

Lets try to drop the  judgement a guilt that comes with seeking help. Trust yourself, have compassion on yourself!

I have Climbed Out Of the Darkness. I am back! I am one emotional woman over here… for good reason! This video means so much!

Have you discontinued medication for depression? How did you know you were ready? Please share your experiences with me here in the comments, on Facebook or Instagram.

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety
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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Crystal
    December 23, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Hi Raivon,

    I have replied to some of your posts last year too. Because I felt such a strong connection to you. I relate to all of what you went through. My son turned 2 on dec. 19th. I beat ppd too. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life. I now may be unexpectedly pregnant again and afraid that I will go through it all again. I wasn’t ready for another pregnancy yet but I’m pretty sure I’m here now. Anyway I struggled through without medication with my ds. This time I don’t think I can do it again. I have several questions about zoloft. I wish I could contact you via email.

    • Reply
      Kim
      January 9, 2015 at 3:39 am

      Crystal, I urge you to look into homeopathy. All I can say is that it turned my life around. I was nervous/skeptical at first, but I am so greatful that I decided to give it a chance. I don’t fear that I would struggle with PPD again, & from what I know, it’s safe in pregnancy, but I’m not a doctor & you have to do what you are comfortable with.

    • Reply
      Raivon Lee
      January 9, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Crystal! Thanks for your comment and reaching out! I totally understand how you are feeling …My God I do! The only thing that would give me peace going into another pregnancy would be knowing that I could get treatment if needed and thankfully I now know that I can! I know what symptoms to look for and wont ignore them like I did before. I will contact you via PM
      HUGS!!!

  • Reply
    Kim
    January 9, 2015 at 3:33 am

    I just wanted to take a moment and congratulate you! Overcoming PPD & anxiety is life changing! I traveled a very similar road as you, & after 5 years, I just felt it was my time to quit zoloft. With the help of my homeopath, I came off with almost no withdrawl symptoms! Praise The Lord that he worked through her to allow me freedom from my medication. He gave me my life back with Zoloft, but now that I am off, I feel like a new person. I read so many terrible stories about people attempting to wean off….I never thought I would be able to but it is possible!!

    • Reply
      Raivon Lee
      January 9, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      Kim! Thank you. Yes it is life changing. God truly does work through others to bless our lives. I felt like I was on top of the world when I was done with Zoloft BUT then I discovered that I have PMDD… that’s another story for another time. Congratulations on your FREEDOM!! And thanks for commenting!

  • Reply
    Alecia Phillips
    April 29, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Hi Raivon, I’ve been reading your blog and find your story inspiring. I have been suffering with PPD/A that has quickly spun out of control and I need some guidance. At my 6wk postpartum appt I was tearful (my daughter, now 3 mos, was very fussy and difficult to soothe from birth) and I was home with her all day 4-5 days per week. Going into the appt I was thinking of getting some prn Xanax, but the MD prescribed me Lexapro and we decided to start me back on my birth control. I got both filled and within 5 days of lexapro/3 days of birth control I was awoken out of sleep with a panic attack and couldn’t sleep more than 3 hours for next 5+ days. I was panicky/on edge/extremely depressed for the next 7 days and was barely able to care for my daughter. I immediately called my doctor after the first night and she ordered me to stop the lexapro and prescribed Zoloft instead. I did not take the Zoloft, but ended up needing to call her back to get some Ativan to try and calm down. It’s not been a month to the day since I went off the lexapro and I started the same symptoms. I thought perhaps there was a correlation to the birth control so I stopped that and am starting to feel a little better. I again went to see my OB-gyn (a different md in the practice) and found him to be extremely insensitive- he told me I should have never stopped the lexapro (even though I couldn’t function on it) and prescribed the same medication again. I’ve made an appt to see a psychiatrist, but am wondering what your experience with Zoloft was. After my experience on Lexapro I’m really scared to try another medication. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Raivon Lee
      May 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      Hi! First of all I’m really sorry that you are having such a hard time! My expericence with Zoloft was amazing… once I was on the right dose. Zoloft and its generic are known to help with anxiety and depression. I will PM you now! Hugs!

  • Reply
    Lexie
    May 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I just started Zoloft 2.5 weeks ago and I am feeling worse, but it’s only 25 mg, so I’m not sure If it’s the dosage or what!

    • Reply
      Raivon Lee
      May 13, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Hello again :). It could be the dosage. When I began Zoloft I started with 50mg. I felt horrible — out of body, and stopped taking it for 3 long months in which I was in hell.

      When I did start it again I started at 25 mg for a week or so and then increased to 50mg. I felt so much better easing myself on it.

      From what I understand 25mg is not a “therapeutic” dose and should be increased but talk to your doctor. This is only my personal experience with it. Oh, I’ve also know that in the patient info for antidepressants that it dose say it can take weeks before its in your system and starts working and that you may feel worse before better!

      Take care and feel free to ask anything! I hope this was helpful!

  • Reply
    Tina
    January 16, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    I weaned Zoloft 3 years ago, after taking it for 4 years. I did it really slow, 4 months. But 2 months after kicking it, all syphtoms came back. I was lucky because a friend recommended a supplement, Usana, and I got so much better.

  • Reply
    Carrie
    August 5, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    I know this is an older post, but I stumbled across it and it really hits home. I am six months into starting Zoloft but only three on the therapuetic dose that worked for me. Struggling with the side effect of weight gain but otherwise feeling amazing. So good that sometimes I try to talk myself into believing I might be ready to wean off. But deep down I think I know that I’m not. It’s also fear of the unknown, will symptoms come back, will the withdrawal be bad, etc. I can’t wait to be able to say I beat PPD! Thanks for this post. I will be referring back to it often.

    Carrie

    • Reply
      Raivon Lee
      August 7, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Thank you for your comment! Its funny looking back on things. I was so happy to be able to come off of Zoloft… but eventually the symptoms began to return. I felt so defeated. Then a friend told me that if I had diabetes or any other chronic disorder/disease. I would just stop my medication because I felt better. I just happen to be a woman who has depression that is treated with medication… And that is OK! It really put things into perspective for me. Also when you think about about it — realize that you have ALREADY beat PPD!

      • Reply
        Latisha Lawson
        February 9, 2017 at 12:33 am

        Hello, I am struggling with PPA, my son is six months and it started when he turned 4 months. I was prescribed lexapro and it made me more anxious. Therefore I am scared to try another medication, so I have been meditating and taking vitamins. I have been feeling more like myself these last couple of weeks. But I am afraid of it coming back. I have no more panic attacks and a lot less of the ocd thoughts. Could I be getting better ? This is so confusing… I am thinking of trying homeopathy.

        • Reply
          Raivon Lee
          February 9, 2017 at 9:08 pm

          Hi! First of all I am so very sorry that you are struggling. When I first began my medication I felt worse. The dose was too high so I quit. I struggled a few months more and got to the point that I HAD to do something. I began taking my meds again at a lower dose and it made all the difference! I will say DONT be sacred to try another medication or a lower dose… It’s no one size fits all and sometimes it takes some time to find the right fit. I am glad that vitamins are working for you and yes you could be getting better! I always have an underlying fear of things getting worse ( I ended up needing to take medication again and still do ). Try homeopathy, go for it. Remember that you dont have to choose one form of treatment you can take the holistic approach, combining what work for you.

        • Reply
          Latisha Lawson
          February 10, 2017 at 1:33 am

          Thanks so much for your reply, so I went back to the doctor’s today and they give me another prescription for anixety… Called Librium…. I started at a low dose 5 mg and so far so good… Hopefully this is the shrot term answer while my hormones gather themselves. I am no longer asshamed of taking medication, as such my doctor has been in practice for 60 years so hopefully she’s the key to this beast door that has been consuming my life.

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