For some people, the challenge of long-term problems after coming off antidepressants is so difficult to navigate that it ultimately undoes any benefit that might have been experienced during treatment. This is reason enough to pause before prescribing.
It is important that media reporting of the increasing use of psychiatric drugs does not downplay the risk by saying the drugs are not addictive, but clarifies that, for some people, dependence can be a result of using the drugs exactly as prescribed.
Today, Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has received a petition signed by 12,300 people calling for him to take specific action to help resolve the problem of dependence and withdrawal from prescribed medications.
Both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have been debating the issues surrounding the overuse of psychiatric drugs. They have been encouraged into action by petitions launched by those with lived experience and therapists who have witnessed first-hand the terrible difficulty that some people can have coming off psychiatric drugs.
Mark Horowitz and David Taylor’s Lancet paper and the work undertaken by John Read and James Davies, when taken together provide a radically different view of withdrawal than that which doctors in the UK are giving to their patients.
It pains me greatly that the personal experience of many thousands of people is dismissed as ‘anecdotal’ and therefore not fit to be part of the evidence base. Arguably, anecdotal experience is often far less compromised than supposedly sterile controlled trials. The motivation for people reporting withdrawal experiences is to seek help, support and understanding, not, like so many ‘researchers’, to sell drugs.
In this episode we chat with Professor John Read about the overuse of psychiatric medications and the alarming growth in the prescribing of antidepressants, benzodiazepines and other psychoactive medications.
This week, we talk to Claire who shares her powerful story of being prescribed antidepressants at the age of 16 and her experiences of trying to withdraw. She describes how she tapered gradually over 2 years but went on to experience SSRI discontinuation syndrome.
This week, we talk to Giovanna from Australia. Giovanna was prescribed an antidepressant aged 17 and tried many times to withdraw over the next 23 years. She shares her experiences with us including the advice and support that she received and her hopes for the future.
This week, we talk to Professor Peter Gøtzsche who is Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark. Professor Gøtzsche graduated as a master of science in biology and chemistry in 1974 and as a physician in 1984.