Dangerous Drugs: A Warning about Zoloft and Klonopin

In 2006 I got on the antidepressant (SSRI) called zoloft after being off of it for almost two years.  I was stressed out and feeling some slight depression.  In retrospect it was nothing I couldn’t handle but I reached for what I thought was the quick fix.   It was a huge mistake.  After withdrawing from drugs like these after long-term use many people become sensitive to them.  I had a very bad reaction to the drug when I got back on it with some dramatic physical symptoms for 3 months.  I was woozy, had strange vision and terrible pressure and pain in my head.  I never made the connection between the zoloft and the symptoms because my doctor didn’t.  I stayed on zoloft until 2010.

In early 2010, the long-term use of the drug was doing strange things to me.  My mind was slow.  I wasn’t reacting well to stress, and I had anxiety.  My doctor’s solution: increase your dose of zoloft.  I had another bad reaction like I had in 2006 and it lasted another three months.  My doctors were dismissive of the terrible pain I was in so it was left to me to figure out what was wrong with me.  I erroneously came to the conclusion that I had an inner-ear infection.  The tests, however, proved I didn’t.

In the mean time the doctors gave me the benzodiazepine called klonopin to suppress my nervous system.  I didn’t know anything about benzos but it helped with the symptoms until they went away.  I took .25 mg of klonopin every night to stabilize my vision and ease the pressure.  After three months my bad reaction symptoms were gone and I decided to get off zoloft.  I stayed on the klonopin while I tapered the zoloft for two months.  I was irritable and had some anxiety but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

Two months after I was off the zoloft I actually read about how dangerous these medications were and how so many people had the same problems I did while on antidepressants.  I finally realized it was the zoloft all along.  I also read about what long-term benzo use can do to you and decided I couldn’t put any more of that drug into my body.  I cold-turkeyed the klonopin and went full force into the most unfathomable, agonizing pain and suffering I’ve ever experienced and never thought possible.

I had just received my master’s degree when this happened and was ready to launch into a career.  Suddenly I found myself unable to work and at the mercy of my loved ones for support.  It has been sixth months since I put any of those medications into my body and though I am much better, I still haven’t crossed any significant line where I can resume a normal life.  I have disabling brain fog and inability to handle stress.  I’m physically miserable with vibrations throughout my nerves, a general wooziness, head pressure, and loud tinnitus.  My vision is so bad I am unable to read comfortably.  I think my nervous system was already fragile and sensitive from coming off the zoloft which I think may have made the klonopin withdrawal even worse—a kindling effect.  But I have no scientific basis for that whatsoever.  It’s possible that this would have happened even without my zoloft use.

Here is a list of my symptoms:

Inability to concentrate

Confusion/Spaced Out

No short-term Memory

Short Attention Span

Speech Problems (Dysarthia)

Social Anxiety/Agoraphobia

Can’t Handle Stress, and Emotionally Sensitive

Fear, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Paranoia

Depression, Suicidal Thoughts

Crying Fits

Emotional Bluntness (Anhedonia)


Obsessive Thoughts/Songs Looping in Mind


Tight Pressure in Head

Cold, Clammy Forehead

Pressure, Pain, Burning and Popping in Ears

Restlessness/Pacing (Akathisia)

Nervousness/Jumpy Nerves


Vibration, Buzzing, and Tingling in Nerves and Muscles


Muscle Tension and Soreness


Grainy Vision and Flickering Lights (Visual Snow)

Vitreous Floaters

Pain behind Eyes

Visual Focusing Problems

Grinding/Clenching Teeth (Bruxism)

Pressured Breathing

Bad Skin and Acne

Burning Sensation on Skin

Digestive Issues

Light, Sound, and Scent Sensitive

Weakness and Fatigue

Rapid Heart Rate

Clumsy and Incoordinated

Hair Thinning and Hair Loss

Easily Awoken

Some of these are gone.  Some are better. And some are just as bad as their peak.  I am still in hell albeit a slightly more manageable hell.  My only advice for someone else facing this is to stay away from all medications that interact with the nervous system.  That means supplements too.  Eat every 2-3 hours.  Stay hydrated.  Stay away from stress and people who are not understanding of your condition.  The only food which seems to cause a problem for me is white flour.  Stay away from caffeine and alcohol.  And don’t spend too much time in the withdrawal forums.

The serotonin receptors in Zoloft’s case, and the GABA receptors in Klonopin’s case, in the nervous system, become down-regulated by long-term use of the medication.  It takes a very long time for the nervous system to repair this damage.  These drugs violate and do harm to the body’s most delicate inner-workings and it strives for homeostasis.  It created a new homeostasis around the drugs’ presence which thus required the drugs to maintain.  It will take some time for it all to be corrected, but I’ve read many success stories about people who completely recovered so I am hopeful.

Many people don’t go through this.  They have a short withdrawal or none at all despite years of using these medications.  All I can say is it is probably genetic or has something to do with how we metabolize the drug or how adaptive our nervous systems are.  General practitioners and psychiatrists are usually ignorant of this phenomenon which is part of the problem, but many neurologists and other researchers are aware and studying this problem.

I’ll be back to report on my progress from time to time and will give a more detailed analysis of the whole experience when it is finally over.

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24 Responses to Dangerous Drugs: A Warning about Zoloft and Klonopin

  1. tamra says:

    I thought I am dying, I hope this gets better for me.

  2. Beth Sjovall says:

    Me too I was on Xanax for 14 years bridged to the death drug Klonopin in June of 2012 I have the same exact things happening to me!! The head pressure is awful I went from 1.5 mg down to 1.25 mg I am slowly tapering the first big drop left me in a state of emotional confusion and I feel very alone I am staying the course getting of this poison drug. Thank you for the info on the neurological impairments Klonopin leaves you with I always say i was very intelligent until I started Klonopin now I am basically dumb, and it takes me hours to finish a task. I hate the psychiatrist that put me on this. Some day the entire world is oing to know psychiatrists are legal drug dealers. This is a living hell!!

  3. Irene says:

    I have had all the same symptoms plus visual and auditory hallucinations and most recently a seizure (3 days ago). They put me on Prozac and colonzepam in the meantime until I get in to see a neurologist. It’s a combination of all these horrible drugs, which I cannot get off of right now because of school.

  4. Jamie says:

    Im pregnant again so my psychiatrist is tapering Me off my zoloft and klonopin. I was on 150 mg zoloft at bedtime and .25 mg klonopin four times a day. My dr gave me this schedule: 100 mg zoloft for 5 days, 50 mg for 5 days and then stop. Klonopin: .25 three times a day for four days, .25 twice a day for four days, .25 before bed for four days and then stop. Ive came off my klonopin before quick n survived for two weeks but stupid me started taking it again. I took it for my two youngests pregnancy along w zoloft n zoloft during my oldest pregnancy. I have been wanting to quit these meds for a long time cause ive been on zoloft now for 4 years and klonopin for 3-4 years. I am day five but i couldn’t do just two pills. I felt sick to my stomach, anxious, pain, head felt weird, out of it. I hate this it feels miserable and like you are dying. What do.i do?

  5. Zoompad says:

    Thanks for the warning. I am one of the Staffordshire Pindown child abuse victims and my doctor has just prescribed me a months supply of Sertaline, and told me the side effects were minimal, but I thought I would check it out for myself before taking them. I am horrified by the list of side effects and certainly will not be taking any of these drugs, and especially after reading this blog.

  6. NoMeaning25 says:

    Same happened to me. 4 years on Paxil, weaned off in 1.5 months, tried to reinstate, but a diferrent drug, had extreme adverse reaction. Now 8 months since then, in incredible hell. All the symptoms you listed i have. My DR/DP is severe. Do people really recover from this or am i brain damaged for life? No windows yet so im starting to worry. Is this normal?

  7. Therapist says:

    It does get better. I was on celexa 20 mg for menopause for 18 months. Five week taper. Horrible depression and anxiety for a month then ok for two months. End of third month akathesia and severe tremor, head pressure, buzzing, tingling. Thought I would die. That lasted three months almost to the day. At 7 months now. Now three weeks of better but more body aches and vein pain. It does get better. Drink water, take daily walks, reduce stress. Take fish oil and probiotics but NO B vitamins or anything stimulating. Needless to say no alcohol or drugs. Acupuncture helped but only after many months. Stopped talking any supplements except what’s listed above. Eating organic leafy greens and good protein daily. Do not kill yourself. The symptoms can vanish suddenly ( in 5-10 mins) and then stay gone or come back. When they come back its not as hard. From what I read it takes 6-18 months, 1 year is average. No, it will not be as bad during that time. Almost everyone recovers. Spiritual stuff helped, in my case shamanic readings but any spiritual help that you like is good. Do not give up. It feels permanent but it is not. Your mind is strong and you can survive this.

  8. Viagra says:

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not
    writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say great blog!

  9. Nora says:

    You all might look into a doctor of TCM- Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are practitioners are all over the country. Chinese medicine has been around for 3,000 + years. Along with acupuncture they have a huge pharmacy of herbs….not drugs…herbs. And they know how to use them. Combine acupuncture with the proper herbs for a consistent length of time and you will have nice results with no side effects. Anxiety, stress, depression can all be treated this way. In particular, try to find a doctor of TCM that is trained in 5 Elements…..the form of TCM that precedes Mao Tse Tung – who sort of standardized/homogenized TCM training. NOTE; do NOT try to do this yourself by poking around on the internet to find herbs….it is way to complicated a practice and you can do serious harm to yourself.

  10. Kristine says:

    Hi i have ALL of the above symptons too. I’ve been to the dr about 5 times thinking i have a brain tumour but put it down to starting zoloft a couple of months ago again. How do i taper off it??? I take one tablet once a day. Do i now cut back to 1/2 tablet? how long do i do this for?? I was on it a few years ago and i stopped it abrupty because i was pregnant. So i guess that is whay i’m having all of these killer side effetcs now :-( :-(

  11. leesa gilliland says:

    My goodness…..My story involves my son who is now a healthy 22 year old. He was put on Ciprilex at the age of 16 and by 17 his life was severely affected by a host of unexplainable and life threatening symptoms that required hospitalization each time. I lost count of the hours and days i helped take care of him in ermergency. At 18 he was referred to a psychiatrist who put him on Zoloft….the symptoms got worse and I watched my formerly vibrant, social son turn into a pale socially isolated walking zombie. We saw every specialist available with no answers on the severe vomitting/nausea/ and finally atrial fibrilation of his heart…a stroke was next… …it was so scary as a Mother…THE ONE THING THAT HADN’T BEEN RULED OUT OR EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT WAS THE DAMN SSRI’s!!! All of the professionals except one smart nurse told me it wasn’t the Zoloft….the smart nurse whispered in my ear one traumatic trip and said, “GET HIM OFF THE ZOLOFT” Well, I started to do my research and talk to my son ….about how he used to be and that anxiety had never been part of his make up nor the vomitting stuff…..he agreed…..he weaned himself off the zoloft with a phamacists help. He’s is 100% better…..working full time….gained weight and has loads of social interactions and is quite active again in our community…..GO NATURAL PEOPLE….IT’S NOT WORTH THE RISK….through exercise, good food and lots of support from loved ones…depression can be overcome…..what did our ancestors do hundreds of years ago…? GO NATURAL! ZOLOFT IS DANGEROUS!!!!! I can’t even imagine what would of happened to our son if he hadn’t of gotten of the zoloft..if you have phatom symptoms it’s THE ZOLOFT!!!!

  12. Christina says:

    I have been experiencing problems with ADD, anxiety and PMDD for years now. I recently got help through my counselor and psychiatrist for the ADD, and that hasn’t been an issue since she put me on 20mg of Methylphenidate (Adderall) a day. For years I’ve experienced general anxiety, occasional panic attacks and PMDD. I never sought help for those issues until last week when I had the worst panic attack I’ve ever experienced. It was completely out of the blue. I felt weak, nauseous, clammy, dizzy, had trouble breathing and blurry vision. I then completely lost my vision for about 2 minutes and collapsed. I saw my psychiatrist and she recommended a low dose of Sertraline everyday for both issues. Today was my first dose and I’m already not happy with how I feel. I know I need to wait at least three weeks to fairly judge it, but after reading reviews combined with how I feel right now, I’m thinking about calling my doctor again. Right now I’m currently experiencing a little anxiousness, problems focusing, problems with my eyes focusing and have a horrible headache with deep pain right above my eyes. I have no idea if this is normal, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. I tried contacting her earlier to tell her my symptoms but I haven’t received a call back. I’m also very concerned about the weight gain I’ve been reading about. I recently lost 45 pounds and it look almost two years. I would hate to gain all of that back. Certainly wouldn’t help my anxiety or depression! I hope everyone on here receives the help they need and deserve! Good luck everyone.

  13. Helen Smith says:

    I appreciate all of the comments, I have had many decades of trying to get off of Benzo’s and Diazepams, it’s been a painful for me, however I’m not giving up yet. I won’t be satisfied until I’m completely off these dangerous chemicals. I have consulted with many Doctors and Psychiatric’s without any real help. I haven’t found a single Doctor that knows how much pain we that have become addictive to these drugs have when trying to get off them. There’s not enough space here to put all of the negatives these drugs have had on my life. Don’t take these poisons, no matter how bad you think you are, the side effects are much more painful that taking the drug!

  14. Dana says:

    I so feel your pain, have been on Klonopin since 1993 and Zoloft since 1995. I am down to .25 of the Zoloft and 2 .50 at night of Klonopin. My skin or my nervous system goes crazy when I am dosing off to sleep. I have no clue how to wean off this garbage!

  15. Dana says:

    Also if I cut back it feels like I have tremendous pressure in my eyes. I hate this!

  16. bunnycat007 says:

    I took that drug 20 years before it was discovered that an Endocrine Disease turned out to be the REAL cause of my panic problems all along. Many of my symptoms were very similar to what was described. I wonder, did anyone suspect you might have a physiological reason for some symptoms?

  17. Dodie says:

    It actually sounds like you’ve had a stroke in the brain stem. I had one, and the symptoms are the same. Please look into it if you can.

  18. Madeline says:

    I was being treated for M S. It was just from the benzodiazepines and antidepressants. I stopped the daily injections in 3-13. Then I began the long slow taper and I am still hanging on for dear life. Your website gives me a reason to know that I am not alone.

  19. matty says:

    I am empathetic to all of your comments. I have been through much of these experiences myself. It is a personal call for each person. All medicine and natural treatments have their place and success or failure stories. Living with depression and/or anxiety is ‘hell’ in itself; thus the reason for medicines to bring relief and a meaning to life back to some. But unfortunately not all of us are the same chemically and do respond differently to medicines. We also feel differently emotionally without medicine. I myself remember feeling dreary and nervous as a child and young woman. When I married I nearly destroyed my marriage with my fears and lack of motivation at times-specially winters. I worried constantly and missed out on an enormous amount of family functions due to my anxieties. After having suffered years of worry and panic over my teens drug addiction I began having panic attacks and anxiety so extreme that I myself asked for paxil. After taking it for a few months I noticed I was more outgoing and had a zeal for life I had never felt before. I was able to work a job and stay with it, among other things. Though the down fall for me was weight gain I decided that I was feeling fine and it would be okay to wean off of it. I did do it slowly-but no slow enough and crashed. I had to return to the dose which took me months to feel like myself again, but I eventually did. A few years later I tried to wean off again slowly. I crashed again. I tried one more time crashed again and tried to recover with another antidepressant. It didn’t work and I landed in the hospital for nine days getting stabalized on another medicine. I have spent the past five years in and out of natural paths and doctors trying to figure out if I will ever feel well again without medicine. Probably not too soon; because I never did feel well without it. Is there a supplement or two that might help-I haven’t found one true one yet, but I am still researching that. Personally I don’t care if I have to take medicine if it is going to help me to feel better that I did before. I don’t think the issue is whether these medicines are bad or not-but whether you are a candidate for them and which ones. I have learned that medicine is only part of a treatment plan and you are your best advocate for which if any is a fit for you. Your doctor works for you not you for them. Most patients I talk with act like any doctor is a God of some sort. They are just people like you and I trying to make a living and chose a career in the medical field to help people. Are there poor doctors-absolutely. But that again is where you find the best doctor and advocate for yourself. Everyone is trying to sell something-just go to your favorite department store. Do you think they really know what they are talking about with regards to what would fit you-no-most care about their jobs and are trying to help you, but need your input to do their job and be a success for both of you. But on the other hand a handful really don’t care and just want to sell you something to make their quota and get a pay check. I happen to have a handful of doctors; PCP, Med. prescriber, counselor and natural path, and the best hospital in my part of the country. I still don’t feel perfect but it is not all of their fault that I struggle with these issues. I have a family of siblings and extended members that have lived in my world without medicine and became addicts, alcoholics, paranoia victims, and have suffered the loss of life due to their unmedicated or treated illnesses because of these attitudes.So in closing if I made any sense and have learned anything from all of my experiences never stop or change your medicine without your doctors counsel. They are guiding you and helping you, but are also learning how to create the best treatment plan for you. When you do wean-research and bring your information to your doctor. My doctor always tells me to go slow and steady, and ride it through the best you can without changing the plan. I call if I feel I can’t take it-he guides me further. I am on .25 of clonazapan 2x’s a day and 10 mg.s of escitalopram 1 x. I have gottten off of both of them before but the ride off was ‘hell’. Yet I went back on because I felt better going back on as I weaned off too quickly and needed to stabilize before trying again. I now know not to try until all systems are a go; and I can be patient enough with the weaning to take as long as it takes. They say 10 percent drops are the easiest. Also that just because one drop stabilized in two weeks doesn’t mean the next one will. So you let you brain take the time it needs to adjust to each drop-no matter how long it takes. Weaning off 10 mgs. of escitalopram could take a year or more for most. The worst to wean off of is paxil for certain. I was on sertraline at one time along with the escitalopram for better help with anxiety and PTSD. I didn’t have a problem with those drops when I switched back to the clonazopram when did it properly. When I stopped abruptly-I spiraled into a deep dark depression. Everybody is different and every experience is different. These med’s are for long term issues of depression and anxiety, etc. Not circumstantial-though they can help.

  20. Venus says:

    Thanks for your story. Very informative and helpful. I can agree to quite a few things you mentioned about withdrawal side effects. I’m working on gradually getting off of Sertraline (Zoloft)now. I was taking 100mg/day for almost 2 years. I started skipping days and now I’m down to 50mg/ 2 weeks. If I didn’t do it gradually I would not be able to function. Thanks hope this was helpful!

  21. julie says:

    Have been off klonopin for 2 and a half years after taking for 20 years. I weaned off gradually over 6 months from dosage of of 2 mg. Greatest problem during withdrawal was no sleep and I mean almost none for days. Also had depersonalization symptoms and stomach issues. Thought I was doing well but involved in 2 car accidents, passenger both times within 3 months 6 months ago. I now have severe anxiety while on road and Dr’s wanted me back on medication but refused. Thought my issue with memory loss and short attention span was result of aging as I am 65 but when thinking back realized that those issues increased after going off Klonopin though short term memory was severe before. I simply cannot read anymore or concentrate or watch any TV show for more than 5 minutes and I will have to get up and do something else. Still have nights when I will only sleep maybe 2 or 3 hours and not be able to go back to sleep. Even on good night I still wake up every hour on the hour. Still I feel better most days but have great fluctuations in mood and seem either to be up or down but not stable. Maybe just part of my personality but don’t really remember a lot of who I was before all of this. I’ve become concerned that I might be developing dementia. My thought processes and memories are so strange. I have flashbacks of places but not people or activities such as driving down a particular road or a shopping outlet I used to go to years ago. Being older may be partly to blame but am wondering how much effect the drug has had on my brain.

    • Carolyn Snow says:

      I don’t think you are developing dementia, or any other brain disorder. In fact, your brain is HEALING from the benzodiazepines. Your neuroreceptors and neurotransmitters in a lot of different places are going off too much in some places and not nearly enough in others, but they are slowly learning and adapting to the brain changes. While all this goes on, though, you’re going to have a lot of symptoms. It can often take well over 2 years for functionality to come back, especially when someone was on the drug as long as you were. I know of someone who’s five years into withdrawal and only now feeling like she’s functional again… at her three-year mark she was still suffering quite a bit.

      One thing I can tell you is that going back on the clonazepam will NOT help. It will break all the parts of your brain that are slowly healing right now, and put you right back at square one. There’s clearly a reason why you wanted to get off this drug in the first place, and why you refuse to take it again.

      There is one thing that is true, however, and this is that some people do not 100% get their brain functions back to what they were before the drug. However, that doesn’t mean, by a long shot, that most of your symptoms now won’t improve significantly. It is extremely possible that almost all of them will eventually get better, if not all.

  22. Mark says:

    I was giving Klonopin for restless legs. I took about a month. Didn’t help any. So I stopped
    taking it. For 2 1/2 years now my eyes are real sensitive to light. And no getting nay better.

  23. Robin Walls says:

    I cannot believe the things you’re going through. I am on klonopin 1 milligram 3 times daily. I am on celexa, wellbutrin, trileptal, desperamene for depression. when I tried to come down from 3 a day to 1 a day. I cryed and cred for 1p days, trying to obey doctor’s orders.

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