Do I Still Have Time to Have Tinnitus Disappear After Abruptly Stopping Zoloft?

Discussion in 'Support' started by InsertNameHere, May 9, 2015.

    1. Hi everyone,

      I really sympathize with everyone here, Tinnitus is truly a debilitating condition.

      Here's my story,

      I have been taking Zoloft 100 MG for about 5 years and mistakenly decided to quit cold turkey. I stopped taking Zoloft on May 1st , 2015 and after a few days developed what I later found out through research is Tinnitus. I get a whooshing sound every minute or quicker. At first I didn't think much of it until on about this Tuesday, about four days after quitting, when I couldn't fall asleep anymore. I would be on the verge of falling asleep, and the Tinnitus would knock me back awake repeatedly!

      I think I've had a total of 4-5 hours of sleep total since then. It's just been hell.

      Now that I read some more on the topic I found out that the withdrawal symptom of medications (benzos) such as Zoloft can cause permanent tinnitus. Today, in the hopes that I can reverse this condition by restarting my Zoloft, I started taking it again.

      Here's my question,

      Is it possible, since I've only been off of Zoloft for a week, for me to reverse this condition of Tinnitus completely by going back on the Zoloft? Is it too late? Is there a window of time that you can reverse and see it go away completely by retaking the medication that caused it? And is it possible to then taper off of Zoloft later and not see the Tinnitus reappear? I don't want to stay on anti-depressants.

      In either case, I hope to update my post in a few weeks to let everyone know if this is the case in case it can give hope to someone else that may still have a chance to stop the condition before it stays permanently.

      I am still going to get off of Zoloft but not anytime soon because of this mess. I think I'll wait a few months and then taper off using the Ashton Method I heard about. Whatever you do, don't try and quit these type of medications cold turkey! I have a lot of rage for the pharmaceutical industry already and this just made me even more angry. Somehow if I could go back in time I would have been a lot more responsible for my health and researched anti-depressants and other medications more thoroughly. I don't think I'd ever have gotten on them and if my Tinnitus goes away after tapering off the Zoloft it's going to be good bye to big pharma.

      Thanks for reading. Again, I'll post here in a few weeks with a follow up in case it can be of help to anyone else in the same situation. I hope to let you guys know if it goes away and then post again in a few months when I taper off the medication to see if it's just not the case of being on the anti-depressant that masks the Tinnitus.

      I would love to know if anyone has experience with this. Have you quit a benzo cold turkey, gotten Tinnitus, went back on the benzo, had it dissapear, quit the benzo a second time but instead tapered off this time and then have not had the Tinnitus come back a second time?
    2. Kathi

      Kathi Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      HFHL and stress
      Zoloft is not a benzo--it's an SSRI anti-depressant--totally different from a benzo.

      I'm sorry you are having such a tough time. Talk to your doctor. Sometimes tinnitus will remit after a few weeks when quitting a medication. It really depends if the medication is ototoxic and causes damage to the inner ear.

      Good luck!!
    3. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member Clinician Benefactor

      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      First things first, if I may. According to your post, you were taking Zoloft daily for five years and then you stopped. If you were doing well on Zoloft, then why did you stop? (Your response may help in terms of the next step you should take.)

      And @Kathi is right. Zoloft is not a benzodiazepine. Huge difference between SSRIs and benzodiazepines.
    4. AUTHOR

      InsertNameHere Guest

      Hi Dr. Nagler,

      Alright I'll explain a little bit, kind of want to get this off my chest anyway.

      I should clarify, I've been on anti-depressants for about 5 years and Zoloft was the last one prescribed to me in that time period.

      I started anti-depressant drugs in part to please my parents, who always threatened to kick me out if I didn't take them, and in part because I was naïve to think that drugs without any other effort on my part would alleviate my moods and make life better.

      I don't want to stay on them because I don't believe I have the same level of cognitive abilities I had before I started the anti-depressants. I reminisce of life before and always think I had a better mindset and probably just needed better direction in life. I believe I can do better with meditation, reading, journaling, and other self-exploration routes that I have learned to use over the years. I also don't like the weight I've gained from these medications and they always made me oversleep and feel fatigued (how ironic at this point).

      Right now without proper sleep, it's very hard to help myself, so I say what I've said knowing well in fact that this is a crucial obstacle I've come across in life that has left me stumped.
    5. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member Clinician Benefactor

      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Got it. Very helpful.

      Well here's the deal. The mechanisms of an increase in tinnitus after abrupt cessation of a benzodiazepine anxiolytic and after abrupt cessation of an SSRI antidepressant are totally different. Forget about all that stuff you have read about benzodiazepines. It does not apply to you.

      So it's the weekend. Even if you call your doc and get through, likely you will reach somebody else who is covering for the weekend, and he or she won't know you at all. Re-start your Zoloft at 100mg daily; not more than that - don't try to "catch up." Call your own doc on Monday morning, and let him or her know what has happened. There is no way to predict the future in any one case, but my guess is that within a couple of weeks you should be fine. It may be that the time is just not right for you to stop SSRIs. Or you may need to do it much much more slowly. Work with your own physician to find a solution that will best suit you and your needs.

      With respect to sites like this, keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of folks who have gone through exactly what you are going through have done just fine. You won't find them on a support site ... because they don't need support.

      And when somebody who doesn't know you from Adam tells you that you're fucked - like just happened here - tell him to get lost and say it to a mirror.

      Regarding sleep, below is a piece I wrote on the topic. I hope it will be of help. All the best ...

      Guidelines for Sleep

      Insomnia is among the most frequent complaints voiced by tinnitus patients. Below are some guidelines that have been successful in making the silence of the night a bit less "noisy." The idea is to make being in the bedroom equivalent to allowing yourself to fall asleep instead of trying to fall asleep.
      1. Use your bedroom only at night for sleep.
      2. Take no naps at all for the next six weeks.
      3. Do not use your bedroom for reading or watching TV - even at night before sleep.
      4. Do not use your bedroom for work or for hobbies.
      5. Do not go to bed until you are tired, but regardless of what time you do go to bed, get out of bed and start your day at the same time each morning - weekday and weekend.
      6. Do not use your bedroom for intimate relations (except at night before sleep). If you want to make love any other time - use another room, closet, table, bathtub, putting green, back seat of a Ford ... but only use the bedroom for sleep!
      7. Try to avoid even going into your bedroom except to freshen it up and to retire at night.
      8. Keep the atmosphere in your bedroom as pleasant and peaceful as possible. Make it a "special" place. Never argue there. Surround yourself with objects of comfort and reassurance - heirlooms, photographs, etc. - but avoid too much clutter.
      9. Remove the television and VCR from your bedroom.
      10. Remove the telephone from your bedroom, and turn your cell phone off when yoiu go to bed, Pick up your voicemails in the morning.
      11. If you have been used to sharing your bed with someone and that person is frequently away on business or is no longer living in your home (e.g., divorce, separation, death), consider keeping extra pillows on the bed, or consider - if you are so inclined - allowing a pet to sleep next to you at night. (This wonderful idea came from Malvina Levy of the San Francisco Hearing and Speech Center.)
      12. If you are unable to fall asleep at night after 15-20 minutes, do not keep trying! Leave the bedroom and watch TV, read a book, work on a project, drink some warm milk or caffeine-free tea, etc., and then - when you are more tired - go back to bed. If you still cannot fall asleep, leave the bedroom again. (Same rule if you wake up at night and are unable to return to sleep in 15-20 minutes.)
      13. Above all, AVOID SILENCE. Purchase an inexpensive bedside white noise generator and set it to a constant sound ("Tropical Rain," "Stream," "Brook," or "White Noise," for instance, rather than "Hawaiian Surf" or "Seaside") with a volume loud enough for you to hear, but softer than would be required to totally mask your tinnitus. Leave it on all night so that even while you sleep - and when you wake - your auditory system will be bathed in rich soft non-obtrusive sound. Examples of suitable bedside devices include Brookstone's "Tranquil Moments," The Sharper Image's "Sound Soother," or Radio Shack's "Sleep Machine." I tried the Sound Pillow Sleep System when I was going through a rough patch myself a few months ago and was well-pleased.
      14. Pleasant dreams!
      Please note - These "Guidelines" are not a prescription for overnight success; they are designed to effect a gradual conscious and subconscious change in attitude towards the bedroom and sleep over a period of several weeks.
    6. AUTHOR

      InsertNameHere Guest

      Thank you Dr. Nagler and others for your posts. I believe this is as good as time as ever to start thinking about implementing good sleep hygiene again. I guess my Tinnitus has to do more with anxiety then the medication I stopped taking. As for the one posters comment, I'm not too mad because I'm sure somewhere inside they are just upset over having developed Tinnitus and it came out like that. Tinnitus to me is worse than the other million problems I've had in my life. It's up there with Crohn's Disease but thankfully I haven't had that come back in a while.
    7. AUTHOR

      InsertNameHere Guest

      Just an update, after taking Zoloft again yesterday I slept without the Tinnitus at all. It's as though it was masking the pulsing whooshing feeling, I could sense it. I overslept, about 12 hours total with the nap I took at noon. Feel very groggy but glad I could sleep. Now just hope it doesn't come back when I decide to taper off under the supervision of my doctor.
    8. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member Clinician Benefactor

      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Excellent ... I love it when a plan comes together!
    9. cowdodge

      cowdodge Member

      Seattle, Washington
      Tinnitus Since:
      Thanks for your input Dr. as most of us out here really appreciate it. Jon
    10. AUTHOR

      InsertNameHere Guest

      I found some interesting information today regarding my experience.

      What I was experiencing may not be Tinnitus but 'brain zaps'. From a wiki description, they seem so closely related, but the reason I give more favor for it being a brain zap is because Zoloft is an SSRI and not a benzo, and brain zaps seem to be a withdrawal symptom of SSRI based anti-depressants.

    11. Poyraz

      Poyraz Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      February 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzos, Stress, Anxiety, Loud Music, Jaw Problems. Who knows
      I went c/t from Rivotril for 3 months ago and after 6 weeks I developed Tinnitus. So is it too late now to start Rivo again to reverse my T?

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