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Study warns withdrawal from antidepressants has severe side-effects

Study warns withdrawal from antidepressants has severe side-effects

  • October 2018
  • Posted By Ben Craske

A new study has concluded that millions of people would suffer severe side-effects if they tried to stop using antidepressants. Published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviours, the study showed that seven million people in England in 2016/17 were using antidepressants on a regular basis. That number represents 16% of the adult population, which is one of the highest rates in the world.

About 1.8 million people have the risk of experiencing severe symptoms, and the withdrawal effects could last for at least three months for about 1.7 million people. The side-effects for the most affected people include insomnia, agitation, nausea, and anxiety. Often, doctors mistake these symptoms for the reoccurrence of depression and put patients back on antidepressants.

The study examined evidence from 24 previous research projects that included 5,300 patients. The researchers have submitted their finding to Public Health England, which is currently reviewing dependency on prescription drugs. Scientists from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence conducted the study, and have requested that NHS watchdog NICE rewrite its guidelines in light of their findings.

Researcher, Dr James Davies, from Roehampton University, said that current NICE guidelines do not acknowledge that side-effects from antidepressant withdrawal are common and wrongly state that symptoms usually resolve themselves in about a week. Dr Davies added that if more people were aware of the severity of withdrawal symptoms, doctors would prescribe antidepressants to fewer patients, reducing the annual £250m the NHS spends on the drugs. In response to the study, NICE said it was reviewing its guidance.


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