Long-term prescription rates for antidepressants in the United States and Britain have doubled over the past decade, with similar trends in other Western countries.
More than 15 million Americans have taken the medications for at least five years, a rate that has almost more than tripled since 2000, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.
The field of psychiatry has conducted few rigorous studies of antidepressant withdrawal (despite mounting interest).
Dr. Mark Horowitz, a clinical research fellow at Britain’s National Health Service and King’s College London, and Dr. David Taylor, a professor of psychopharmacology at King’s College and a member of the South London and Maudsley N.H.S. Foundation Trust, decided to address the topic in part because of their own experiences with medication.
Dr. Horowitz said he had severe withdrawal symptoms after tapering down after 15 years on antidepressants. Dr. Taylor had previously written about his own struggles trying to taper off.
Dutch researchers in 2018 found that 70 percent of people who’d had trouble giving up Paxil or Effexor quit their prescriptions safely by following an extended tapering regimen, reducing their dosage by smaller and smaller increments, down to one-fortieth of the original amount.
This is the regimen recommended in the new paper published Tuesday [March 5, 2019] in the Lancet. Co-authors Horowitz and Taylor, both psychiatrists, argue that any responsible withdrawal regimen should have the patient tapering off medication over months or even years, depending on the individual, and not over four weeks, the boilerplate advice.
Laura Delano, executive director of Inner Compass Initiative, a nonprofit organization that runs The Withdrawal Project and focuses on helping people learn about safer psychiatric drug tapering, said: “I didn’t know about the benefits of slow tapering when I came off five meds in five months, and had a very difficult time in withdrawal.”
The new paper, she added, “speaks to how hard it is to get this information into the clinical world. We laypeople have been saying this for a long time, and it’s telling that it took psychiatrists coming off meds themselves for this information to finally be heard.”
Above was extracted from an article in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/05/health/depression-withdrawal-drugs.html