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Medic: Every second antidepressant is addictive

Medic: Every second antidepressant is addictive


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Antidepressants: There are often severe withdrawal symptoms

Researchers have now found that people taking antidepressants often have problems when they stop taking these drugs. About half of all patients taking antidepressants suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication.

In their current study, scientists from the University of Roehampton and the University of East London found that stopping antidepressants very often leads to withdrawal symptoms. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Addictive Behaviors".

People often take antidepressants longer than necessary

National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines state that antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are usually mild and self-limiting for a week. The experts demand that these guidelines should be changed urgently. The high rate of withdrawal symptoms could partly be the reason why people take these drugs longer than necessary, the authors of the study suspect. Sufferers cannot endure the withdrawal symptoms, so they continue to take the medication or their doctors assume that they have relapsed and write another prescription.

These antidepressants lead to less severe withdrawal symptoms

Modern antidepressants such as Prozac (fluoxetine) and Seroxat (paroxetine) have been rated as safer by doctors. Studies have shown that overdoses are rarely fatal when taken alone, which is not the case with benzodiazepines. Stopping these drugs is also easier, the experts say.

Possible symptoms when withdrawing antidepressants

There have been many reports of antidepressant withdrawal symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, insomnia, headache, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. But the Nice Guidelines concluded in 2004 that withdrawal symptoms were minor and short-lived and were extended in 2009 without further evidence.

Up to 86 percent of the subjects suffered from withdrawal symptoms

The current investigation focused on 14 studies on antidepressants that included relevant data on withdrawal symptoms. These studies showed that between 27 percent and 86 percent of people taking it suffered from withdrawal symptoms, with a weighted average of 56 percent.

More and more people are taking antidepressants

Antidepressants are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK and US, the authors say. In the UK, usage has increased by 170 percent since 2000, and in England alone, over seven million adults (16 percent of the adult population in England) were prescribed an antidepressant last year, doctors add.

Withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks or months

The new research review shows what many patients have known for years that antidepressant withdrawal often causes severe, debilitating symptoms that can last for weeks, months, or longer. People said they had terrible dizziness and nausea when they took a lower dose of the medication. Other people even reported suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, and mood swings when they forgot to take their medication.

Existing guidelines need to be revised

The data suggests that existing medical guidelines in this area should be updated urgently to reflect the fact that antidepressant withdrawal is much more frequent, severe, and long-lasting than previously stated, the experts said. (as)

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