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Perimenopause and Zoloft Part 2

June 16, 2011

This is a two part series on perimenopause and antidepressants, specifically Zoloft. If you missed the first one you can catch up by reading Perimenopause and Zoloft.

For those of you who didn’t bother to read the first part, here is a short recap. For months I have been experiencing mood swings. I’m 45 years old so I figured I was probably going through some hormonal shit. Menopause is a big secret, no one seems to really know what it’s all about and the mothers who should be telling us this sort of thing aren’t as open as we are. Plus, my mother is in a nursing home with no memory left so she isn’t much help. Menopause is the word we use to describe “the change” that takes place as women age and basically become infertile. In actuality menopause is the time after periods have ceased for 12 months. The word Menopause is just a marker for the time after the change has taken place. Perimenopause on the other hand is anywhere from 3 to 12 years where women’s bodies, specifically hormones, change from normal to messed the fuck up. Perimenopause is when the hot flashes and night sweats start and when the hormones are really whacky.

Makes being a male look pretty good doesn’t it?

So, after experiencing all kinds of crazy mood swings, fits or rage and depression I called my doctor who suggested I try Zoloft for perimenopause. He had read several studies that said antidepressants seem to alleviate a lot of the symptoms of perimenopause.

Sign me up!

Let me back up a bit. I’m not the kind of person who fixes things by taking a pill. I have been on antidepressants before, for about a year, but that was because my OB/GYN strongly suggested it. I was three months pregnant and my ex husband had walked out. He eventually came back, which only made things more chaotic and unstable. My doctor figured the Paxil he gave me would help keep me calm and help with anxiety. Now of course we know how dangerous it is to take Paxil while pregnant or nursing but at the time we didn’t. I was on the lowest dose possible and never really noticed a change in my mood. I was in a stressful situation and I knew it would resolve itself with time. I didn’t want to take the antidepressant but I also didn’t want to threaten the pregnancy with my anxiety and depression. I had already lost several pregnancies as well as had a still born child so I was inclined to do whatever my doctor told me to do. My daughter shows no signs of adverse affects from the medication.

When I was on antidepressants before I felt weak. Not physically but mentally. Surely I was not the only woman who was going through a pregnancy on her own. I beat myself up for taking a pill to fix what was either not fixable or at best a shortcut to having real therapy. I didn’t bother with real therapy because there was nothing I could do to change the way my husband felt, I was just trying to do the best with the hand I had been dealt. I didn’t think a therapist could have done anything to make it better. I’m still not convinced of that. My experience with marriage counselors has been this: you spill your guts for 35 minutes and then they ask you how that make you feel and what you think about it. You don’t even get the full hour. Call me crazy but when I’m paying someone $150/hour I expect them to have the answers.

So I have had some experience with both therapy and antidepressants. When my doctor suggested Zoloft my concern was how long I would have to be on it, what it was like to get off it (it sucked getting off Paxil) and would I gain weight?

It was the Zoloft and weight gain that I was most concerned about.

My doctor said he didn’t think taking Zoloft would cause weight gain, he thought I would see a weight loss because I would be more motivated and less depressed which would likely cause me to make better choices about the food I was eating and he thought I would become more active again.

He called my prescription in to the pharmacy, took some of my blood to check my thryoid, made me schedule another appointment in a month to see how things were going and sent me on my way.

Of course I got back in my car and cried like a baby for about ten minutes. And, of course I am not really sure why I was crying. Relief? Probably.

He started me on a low dose, and then wants to slowly increase it over the next week so my body and brain adjusts properly. So far I have been taking Zoloft for three days and even though I know it takes a few weeks to feel the effects of the drug I also know I respond really well to the placebo effect and so already I am feeling much better.

I googled perimenopause and Zoloft and found a million different articles on weight gain and Zoloft. This scares me a bit. I also found a few articles or posts from people who had been prescribed Zoloft and actually lost weight, so much that they had to discontinue the medication. I’m hoping this will be what happens to me. So far I am down ten pounds since Monday but I just know 7 of them were caused by bloating.

Being a woman just rocks.

I’d love to hear your horror stories or success stories with menopause and perimenopause. You can even share your experience with antidepressants if you want. I know I am not the only one to experience all this.



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  • Reply babs (beetle) June 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I can’t help I’m afraid.  Although I had awful periods with really bad pain all my life, I didn’t have a bad time with my menopause, which is only fair really. 

  • Reply Perimenopause and Zoloft | Redhead Ranting June 16, 2011 at 9:13 am

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  • Reply Meaghan June 16, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Wishing you all of the best but do be careful! New studies have been released that Zoloft does not really help cure hot flashes. Have you considered talking to a doctor who specializes in bioidentical hormones? Many women have found great success with depression, anxiety, weight gain, hot flashes etc. Either way, keep your head up! It will all be alright in the end!

  • Reply Bkb June 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Hi there!
    Your story could be mine.
    I am on a different AD but it is working mostly.
    I have come to discribe perimenopause like having one long extended PMS episode!
    I am 48 and finally missed one period.
    I have had mood swings, irritaility, forgetfulness, decreased concentration for past 10 yrs…seemed to be getting worse with each year but like yourself have been dealing with life issues that make it that much worse.
    I am excited to get on with live and hoping that I never have another menstral period!!
    Stay possitive and learn to laugh at yourself. I have been working on that…even day after day of going into a room and saying, “now what was I here for?”
    Have a great day.

    • Reply Amy February 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      I could not relate MORE to your story! I am 44 and was on birth control pills my
      entire adult life until three yrs ago when I stopped them cold turkey as I blamed
      them for all kinds of ailments I started experiencing. I didnt know anything about hormones or perimenopause  as the free clinic that distributed my BC pills kept me in the dark.  Of course I have learned on my own just about everything that has to do with perimenopause, hormones, supplements,
      HRT, progesterone and so on…since I have been  going through hormone
      hell since stopping those bc pills. I saw Dr.’s , gyne’s, homeopaths, and even
      an actupunturist, to help me deal with chronic insomnia, headaches, acne,
      mood swings, complete exhaustion, and outburts of anger and not one of them
      has been able to help  me. I tried progesterone cream, and tons of supplements,
      chineese herbs, and nothing has worked! I am super sensitive to everything and
      always end up with side effects from even simple vitamins that force me to stop
      them. So now, as all my symptoms have nearly destroyed every aspect of my life, I saw a new female internist that I liked.  She ordered a battery of tests
      including a thyroid test that I am waiting on the results of. But then she said it…
      “You might want to consider taking zoloft” to calm me down. I have anxiety,
      always have and told her that but after taking several different meds for it many
      yrs ago and suffering such terrible side effects I gave up on them. Nor have I
      ever taken any prescription drugs for anything. I believe they all cause more
       harm than good in one way or another. So I didnt want to hear her make that
      suggestion. My blood pressure was sky high when I saw her as I get VERY
      nervous seeing Dr’s and I expalined that to her, but she still seemed to want
       to focus on treating my anxiety if I dont have a thyroid disorder or other
      metabolic issue or nutrient deficiancy. I dont want to be “hooked’ on anxiety
      meds for the rest of my life, and thats how I see it.  If I could even take them
      without having to stop them due to my sensitivity to side effects, and they
      work for my perimenopause symtpoms, what would make me think I would
       be ok WITHOUT them after perimenopuase when I will be forced to function
      with even LESS hormones?!?! It just dosent make sense to me as it dosent
      “fix” the underline problem. Its a bandaide. And a expensive one to boot ( my
       ins. dosent even cover any anti anxiety meds!!) that DOES change the chemistry
       in your brain and makes you dependent of it! Well….as desperate as I am to
       feel normal and as much as I dont agree with taking this zoloft, if she finds no
       other health problem from my tests, then I guess I am forced to give it a try.
      Finding this story was very helpful! I would love to chat more with anyone
       who can relate. Us women have to stick together!
      my life kept me in the dark.

  • Reply Margaret (nannygoats) June 16, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    We are the same age and I am either in total denial, or I haven’t starting on this lovely path of hormonal hell. I wonder if not having kids has anything to do with that.

  • Reply Jayne June 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Okay, don’t hate me, but in addition to having a size 4 ass, I sailed through menopause.  Never even paused for that peri shit.  Just one day when I was about 42 my period stopped never to appear again.  I had a few months of mild night sweats, a bit of insomnia, and a hot flash or two usually associated with eating or drinking something and then it was over.  As for mood swings, that’s harder to judge because I’ve pretty much always been a bitch.

    Now about the AD’s, I believe there are two kinds of people in the world:  Those taking them and those who should be.   If I were God, they’d be in the damn water supply.   I take Lexapro, not because I’m unhappy about anything, but just because my brain sucks up my serotonin too fast and the meds make it stay in my “happy place” (not to be confused with G-spot) for an extended length of time.   It’s strictly a chemical thing with me.  

    I don’t know what effect Zoloft has on menopausal symtoms, but I’m inclined to agree with Meaghan about looking for a doctor who works with bioidentical hormones.  I have a good friend who swears by them in terms of mood, energy level, etc.   

    Meanwhile, if you feel better on the Zoloft, than take it.   It’s all about whatever works for you.


  • Reply Lauren June 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I have the tee-shirt! I’ve been going through this for a while. I think I’ve been purposely alienating people, so I don’t have to talk to them. I’ve been reluctant to take Zoloft for fear it will affect my writing, serving as an emotional airbag. I’m 54 and still getting my period. I’m waiting for a vision from God, to hear him say, “Just kidding.”

    Not having a full-time job and a “normal” schedule doesn’t’ help either. I need structure. I also need more sleep. Not getting enough of it because I stay up late due to my weird schedule. Honestly, I’m a mess. I’ve also been caught up in fighting a proposed cell tower in a nearby neighborhood, doing research, attending group meetings, and searching for documents at town hall. A lot of creepy people hang out at town hall.

    I’ve got to do something to fix my broken self. I’m just not sure what that something is.

  • Reply Sparkle June 18, 2011 at 4:34 am

    My human loves drama and was born moody, which is why, even though she is in the proper age range, she has never had any of these symptoms that so many other women talk about. Also why she has never been on antidepressants or bipolar meds (her moods certainly swing… and I would know) – it would spoil all the fun.

    One thing she DID have was uterine fibroids. A radiologist took care of those with an embolization. And a good thing, because she almost bled to death from them. Literally. I’m not kidding. But that is a story for whenever she decides to start blogging herself again.

  • Reply Lucretia1987 June 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I’ve just been prescribed zoloft for perimenopausal anxiety and sleep disturbances. After reading all the weight gain stories, loss of sexual enjoyment stories, and hellish symptoms getting off the stuff stories, I’ve decided not to risk taking it. I will battle on with 2 weeks hell per month and try and beat this crud with more exercise, diet and stuff from my naturopath. I just want a happy pill with no side effects! I want to go back to how I felt 15 years ago!

  • Reply Katherine Murray June 21, 2011 at 3:37 am

    wow, I just asked in the first post about your thyroid… duh nuh nuh nuh….

    forgetfulness.  THAT is one of my big problems. And motivation.  UGHHHHH

  • Reply MomZombie June 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I was on Zoloft for three years for extreme PMS and probably a touch of perimenopuase. I weaned myself of it because of the weight-gain issue and the feeling that my emotions were a constant flatline.  I lost my ability to really feel. I don’t know if it was the drug itself or some other underlying issue that gave me the voracious appetite, the lack of concern for my expanding waistline, and the sleepy lack of motivation to exercise. I lost almost 10 pounds after I quit it and regained my sense of limits and motivation to work out. Now I’m gaining weight all on my own, most certainly due to the damned perimenopause. I hope Z works for you. There are times I kind of want to try it again.

  • Reply JS July 16, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I took Zoloft a few years ago for perimenopausal symptoms.  After the first month I realized that I didn’t need them as much when I wasn’t having my period so I took a half a pill for three weeks and then a whole pill during the week of my period.  I actually lost weight on Zoloft.  The other thing is that I was on the YAZ bcp for excess bleeding and found that it caused me a lot of anxiety for a few days a month.  So after two years I quit taking both of them.  I had no trouble coming off of the Zoloft.

    However, now I am experiencing mild sleeping problems, impatience (anger!), and anxiety a week out of the month.  Since Zoloft works by being built up in your system, I am now starting the regimen again.  This time I hope to take only half a 50 mg pill every other day and a half a pill during my period.  I think this might work for me since I am not on the YAZ.  I have discussed this with my doctor.  The reason I cut the dosage back last time was that I noticed I wasn’t responding correctly to my friends who felt sad or had troubles, I was too happy!  So I realized I needed less dosage.  I found that even 25 mg was enough to keep my symptoms at bay. 

    Best Wishes.

  • Reply Andrea January 26, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you so much for being here in my time of need! lol. I finally talked to my dr about it today. I have tried black cohosh and evening primrose and I ended up with 2 periods that month instead of one. I am 42 and have been clearing counters and perfecting obnoxious fits for about 7 years now and I just cant take it anymore. 

    I am crying now because I feel so bad for myself cause this is horrible. I just want it to be over. My dr prescribed zoloft today and is starting me on 25mg on day 14 of my cycle and when my period starts I stop. My periods are now 25 days apart and 3 days long. I know….my sisters are pissed too! They bled extremely heavy all the time until they were 45 and then….done. So, the 1/2 I get to put on my age suddenly becomes so important!

    I am 42 and 1/2 and perimenopause has been horrible for me. I hope this works…

    ps. I am also getting a sunlamp and taking 1000mg of Vit D a day to fight the winter blues (SAD) cause I want of Welbutrin. But I am a nonsmoker now. 🙂 

  • Reply Debbers April 3, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I was prescribed Zoloft last week for peri symptoms.    Although I do not have night sweats or hot flashes, I do not find much pleasure in the things I used to enjoy.   In addition, my outlook on things have gone from very optomistic to somewhat pessimistic.    I seem to be yelling more at my lovely 8 year old daughter……I hate it!     Your messages have convinced me to start taking the pills tonight.   

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