Since the start of medication and the idea of withdrawal experts suggested that most people who take drugs like pills should be able to withdrawal within four weeks. However, just recently, psychiatrists claim that some patients taking the pills for over a decade can experience severe side effects that have been reported for much longer than four weeks.
Since the recent claims, national clinical guidelines are being examined and updated accordingly.
According to Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, she wants the guidelines, "more in keeping with what we're hearing from some patients - and GPs - about the range of experiences of coming off antidepressants."
Reports by the college suggest the number of prescriptions for antidepressants in the UK nearly doubled during the years 2007 and 2017, from a whopping 40 million to more than 82 million. Around the same time, the data also revealed an increase in depression among adults and children.
Under the previous understanding, the typical course of ant6idepressants should only last six months and see the risk of a relapse for the next two years for most patients. However, currents reports show the effects last much longer.
Dr. Adrian James, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, expressed his concerns on the Today program on how severe depression "caused a great deal of distress and suffering" and how necessary treatment can be.
He claims that "antidepressants could be very effective for treating moderate to severe depression," with a combination of counseling and therapy sessions. "But like all drugs, there are side effects," he noted.
"There should be more opportunity for people to discuss this with their doctors, to look at tapering, gradually reducing the dose over time, so that there are an honest debate and discussion with patients," Dr. James added.
Symptoms can include a wide range of things and can include dizziness, stomach cramps, anxiety, and fatigue.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), announced safely discontinuing antidepressants was a topic of discussion which called for an intensive investigation, "because there is limited high-quality data in this area."
"We hope the final guideline will allow people with depression to be offered the best treatments and reach joint decisions about their care that reflect their preferences and values," a spokesperson for NICE stated.
A statement from John Geddes, professor of epidemiological psychiatry from the University of Oxford, concluded by saying: "As clinicians, it's vital that we make sure patients are aware of the evidence we have on antidepressant withdrawal.
"And it's important that NICE conduct a robust and thorough assessment of all the available evidence to understand the incidence and clinical implications of the distressing and sometimes devastating adverse effects that some patients report when coming off antidepressants."
NICE is still investigating the possible discontinuation of anti-depressant.
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