Published June 27, 2014 by Jennie

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If you are unfamiliar with my blog, my husband and I have decided to start the IVF process in August (retrieval in September and transfer in October).  This morning I had a long conversation with my doctor and we decided to make a few more changes.  This included gradually come off Sertraline (Zoloft).  This is a really big deal for me.  Like infertility, it bothers me that mental illnesses (including anxiety) are taboo topics.  Even so, they are both huge parts of my life so I am going to talk about them.

While I am not a doctor, I know that anxiety is a real condition that can be crippling at times.  I have struggled with it since I was a kid.  People often told me to just get over things or toughen up.  While these people may mean well, anxiety is not something I could simply overcome.  It is oven involuntary and does lead to physical symptoms.  For me, anxiety can make some things that may seem easy very difficult.  For example, when my anxiety was at its worst, little things like standing in line at the grocery store or even leaving my house was enough to give me a panic attack.  It got so bad that it lead to other things and caused me to miss a semester of college (I still managed to graduate on time).

For several years, I took Citalopram (Celexa).  About a year ago, my husband and I decided to get serious about infertility treatments and my doctor recommended I switch to Zoloft.  Celexa is rated as a category C drug for pregnant women.  If you Google a drug and the word pregnancy, its rating will appear on the right.  You can read more about the categories here.  Zoloft still has risks but my RE felt a little better about this one.

In the last 8 months or so, I have made MANY health changes.  I have been working hard on learning new ways to manage anxiety (including yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, counseling, etc).  I feel that I am now ready to wean myself off Zoloft.

Even so, doing this is scary.  There are risks associated with coming off certain medications.  Additionally, I know that it is important to be healthy if I do get pregnant and anxiety can be detrimental to my health.  I feel like I have carefully weighed the options and I am making the right decision.

As I always say, this (or anything I write in my posts) is not recommendations to other people.  In many cases, the benefits of remaining on certain medications outweigh the risks.  I am sharing my story because I always enjoy the feedback I get from other bloggers.  Has anyone else struggled with this issue?  I sincerely appreciate it when people share their experiences with me.  It reminds me that I am not alone.  Also, I have found that I learn the most from other people who have been through similar situations. xoxoxoxo – Jennie

28 comments on “Decisions

  • I think that sounds like a good plan. I’m currently taking the same drug, but more for depression than anxiety…and my doctor informed me that when I get pregnant he will want me to come off of it, if I feel I still need something for my depression he will put me on something different. I hope you do okay coming off of it. Good luck to you….WITH EVERYTHING! I hope IVF #1 is it for you guys.


  • Although there days I probably should be one something, I’ve tried hard to manage my anxiety/mild depression on my own. I know what my triggers are and I’ve learned way to deal. Meditation and yoga have been key for me! Post-partum is something that I worry about but we can deal with that once we cross the pregnancy threshold!


    • Yeah that is how I am trying to manage it as well. Identifying triggers has been hard for me. I can go from 0 to panic attack relatively quickly if I do not identify the trigger. It is like my mind escapes and goes into a tailspin before I can do anything about it.


  • Thanks for liking my post today on ‘things not to say’ so I could find your blog and read about your difficult journey. You are right that both mental illness and fertility issues are taboo topics – but on the upside they are better now than they used to be (which doesn’t help you now).

    I am sure it is scary going into weaning off the Zoloft, but I think a big part of it is that you are entering it as well prepared as you can be, with your doctor and husband at your side and ready to help you cope with whatever comes along.

    Thanks for sharing your story, your blog is very powerful, and as someone who struggled to have children your stories and posts really move me and … well, I really just hope for the best for you and your husband, whatever that might be.


  • First of all, I think things like “taboo” subjects shouldn’t be so taboo. I don’t know of a single person who is problem fee. Advertisements and political rhetoric want us to believe in this “American family” that sits around eating lasagna and doing home improvement on their backyard. Many many people I know suffer from anxiety and depression. I have suffered with anxiety most of my adult life. I took Lexapro for about two years and when I came off (to try to get pregnant), I had major withdrawal symptoms. So one, be careful coming off even with a doctor’s advice. I was very dizzy and had extra extra anxiety. I also had a lot of random physical pain. But I got through it. You have to wait it out. But I have managed to stay off for the last few years. It’s a full time job managing anxiety but it’s totally doable without meds.


    • Preach it girl! I get so sick of everyone pretending that mental issues are not real as well as the unrealistic depiction of the ‘perfect’ American family. Thank you for sharing your experience. It means a lot to me. Other people have also told me it can get worse before it gets better. It’s good to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


  • Oh man! I hope the ugly anxiety doesn’t rear it’s ugly head! I have it too and it can be so oppressive! You aren’t alone and I’ll keep sending happy thoughts and prayers your way!


  • I spent years on xanax for anxiety, still taking it while ttc but sparingly during the 2ww. But in preparation for giving the IVF my all, I have weaned off it in the last few months. The terrible thing is, IVF is filled me with so much anxiety over everything coming up I could really use some xanax right now!


  • I had many anxiety issues as well and although I didn’t go on drugs like others have, my condition was related to a faulty pituitary , brain chemicals were squirelly as a result. I enjoyed having a naturopath give me some capsules that had bovine pititary crushed along with other supplements. It allowed me to have an elevation of mood and as a result have better coping. I regularily pour my heart hurts out to God and that helps me keep me at peace. I’ve not arrived and I’m not perfect. I so want to hug you Jennie for your courage and in some ways I am waiting with you for ths treatment in August. I wasn’t given this chance to try, so I’m sending extra support, prayer and love your way. Please keep us ‘posted’.

    Question” are all your hormone levels normal? Estrogen, Progesterone, FST, LH, etc?


  • I hope you realize how much your comments and support mean to me. You do not even know me but I find so much comfort in the words you write. I have had all my levels checked many times including months we tried naturally, months with just Clomid, and months with IUIs. Everything always looks great!


  • I am glad you were able to make a decision that feels good to you and I truly hope everything goes well! ❤ I hate that mental health and infertility are "taboo" topics and I don't think they should be.

    As for me, I take Effexor and Celexa. I was on Klonopin instead of Celexa, but my medical team (psychiatrist, psychologist, Maternal Fetal Medicine, OBGYN, RE, etc.) all had differing opinions. I tried going off anxiety meds. completely, but after awhile, I decided to go back on for my own sanity. The Celexa is not as good as Klonopin was, but it's better than nothing. A couple of the people on my team felt that I shouldn't take anything, but most were open to discussing what would work best for me because they felt being depressed and anxious would be worse for a potential baby. My plan is to go off of Celexa when I know I'm pregnant and then wean off of Effexor in my last trimester of pregnancy per the psychiatrist's recommendations. These were difficult decisions for me to make, as I'm sure yours were for you.

    I find it inspiring that meditation, yoga, etc. have helped you so much. I have tried all of these things, but I think I'll try more. 🙂


  • Hi Jennie, thanks for your post today. I feel for your situation, when I was in my early twenties I suffered from anxiety as well. I did take some drugs for a while but they made me very ill, so I stopped taking them. I learned instead to listen to my body and learn what triggers the anxiety. Sometimes it meant avoiding the triggers and sometimes it meant facing them head on. I can now identify triggers and manage anxiety with meditation (and sometimes music). I admire your bravery for going off the medication and giving yourself the best chance with IVF. Wishing you all the best!


    • Thank you so much. Identifying my triggers and knowing what to do with them has been the hardest part. Sometimes before I figure out what is going on, my mind had already spiraled out of control if that makes sense. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement.


  • I recently went off all my antidepressants because we’re trying to sort out a bone marrow abnormality and I really don’t feel all that much different. So go for it and the very worse that can happen is you might have to go back on something some day. ” Don’t worry, be happy. ” Love you.


  • I think it is great that you are talking about this! I have had on and off anxiety for a good part of my life. I never took medication (although there were times I wish I had) and tried to get through it with yoga, deep breathing, etc. Remember: You do what is best for you. You sound very confident in your decision, so go for it girl! You can do it!
    I hope this IVF works for for you! I will send positive prayers your way :).


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