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Never suddenly stop taking antidepressants

Q: I was told that Zoloft (sertraline) was not addictive, but my experience suggests otherwise. I was on this antidepressant for nine years. I wanted to get off because it killed my sex drive.

One day after stopping this drug, I experienced unbearable dizziness. I could not walk across a room without holding on to a piece of furniture for stability. I called my daughter but was incoherent.

She discovered that my blood pressure was 190/105 and my heart rate was 165. She rushed me to the emergency room, where they thought I was having a heart attack. The tests came back negative.

I suffered headache, dizziness and nausea for days. My daughter suggested I go back on the Zoloft. Shortly after taking it, my symptoms disappeared. I am angry that I was never told this drug is addictive. Getting off this drug can be a nightmare.

A: You are not the first person to report disastrous side effects when stopping drugs such as citalopram (Celexa), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor). Sudden discontinuation may trigger symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, headache, "brain zaps," irritability, insomnia, sweating and pain, numbness or tingling in hands or feet.

If you wish to discontinue a drug, do so under a doctor's care to make sure the stepping down in dose is done properly.

Q: Last week, a red wasp stung my finger. It had gotten in one of the drawers in my bathroom and nailed me when I reached for my hairbrush. That hurt so much! Within minutes, my finger was twice its size, and I could not do anything for the excruciating pain as my entire hand started to swell.

I went online looking for something to help and found your website after 30 agonizing minutes. I cut an onion and started rubbing the cut end on the sting. Within seven minutes the pain began to ease, and within 30 it was almost gone. The swelling had subsided by almost half.

I taped the onion on my finger, and within a couple of hours all of the swelling was gone.

A: We have been writing about raw onion for stings for more than 20 years. Eric Block is one of the world's leading experts on onion chemistry. He told us that onions contain an enzyme that can break down the inflammatory compounds that cause pain and swelling in response to a sting.

Although such therapies can help many, those who are allergic to insect stings must be alert for a life-threatening reaction called anaphylactic shock. This requires an epinephrine injection and emergency medical attention.

Q: I had a wart on my right ring finger for years. Although the dermatologist had frozen it and cut it off several times, the wart still was there.

I needed nerve surgery on that finger, but the wart was in the way. My hand surgeon told me to put nail polish or instant glue directly on the wart and keep it on for three weeks. That would cut off the air supply a wart needs to survive and grow.

I did that religiously. When I returned for my pre-op visit, the wart had died and popped out when hard pressure was applied. This was so simple and painless. The glue I used caused no ill effects to the surrounding tissue on my finger, and the nerve surgery proceeded.

A: You are not the first person to tell us that instant glue can be successful against warts.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via

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