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Midweek Mindset

Half of people taking antidepressants experience withdrawal symptoms

October 3, 2018

By: Jenna Rachid

Half of people taking antidepressants experience withdrawal symptoms

According to a new review of evidence, half of people taking antidepressants experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them.

The review was commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence, supported by UKCP, and comes amid an ongoing debate about the NICE Guideline on withdrawal, which critics say has major flaws.

The review authors – former UKCP member Dr James Davies, from the University of Roehampton, and Professor John Read from the University of East London – are urging NICE to change their Guideline, which currently states that withdrawal symptoms ‘are usually mild and self-limited over about one week’.

They highlight the huge growth of antidepressant use in the UK, pointing out that usage has risen since 2000 by 170%, with over seven million adults being prescribed an antidepressant in England alone last year.

Davies and Read also suggest that the high likelihood of experiencing withdrawal symptoms may be affecting the length in which people stay on antidepressant medication.

‘This new review of the research reveals what many patients have known for years – that withdrawal from antidepressants often causes severe, debilitating symptoms which can last for weeks, months or longer,’ Dr Davies said, following the publication of the review.

He added: ‘Existing NICE guidelines fail to acknowledge how common withdrawal is and wrongly suggest that it usually resolves within one week. This leads many doctors to misdiagnose withdrawal symptoms, often as relapse, resulting in much unnecessary and harmful long-term prescribing.’

The APPG, in conjunction with UKCP, BPS and BACP, are currently in the process of producing a guidance document for therapists working with clients using prescribed medication. Any therapist interested in supporting that project should email

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How much time should young people be spending on social media?

Medical experts are drafting guidelines which will outline how much time young people should spend on social media, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

According to the BBC, Hancock is ‘very worried’ about social medias impact on young people’s metal health.

Speaking in an interview with the Observer ahead of the Conservative Party Conference, he said: ‘Unrestricted use (of social media) by younger children risks being very damaging to their mental health.

‘So, I have asked the chief medical officer to bring forward formal guidance on its use by children.’

Hancock believes that this guidance could help parents set sensible limits.

However, some have expressed concern about the rhetoric and quality of evidence relating to the impact of social media.

The Centre for Mental Health (CMH) argue that the debate around social media and mental health is ‘polarised and often lacking in evidence’.

‘Blaming social media for mental health difficulties with many complex causes simply alienates the young people whose lives are being debated and social media companies who could do more to help young people to thrive,’ CMH chief executive Sarah Hughes said.

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