Sputnik: Tell us about the research you conducted.
John Read: What Dr James Davies and I have done at the request of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence is look at all the research ever conducted on the withdrawal effects. What happens when people stop taking antidepressants ore reduce them, this was important because the guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines say the withdrawal effects are normally mild and last about a week. We’ve heard for many years’ people saying that this is inaccurate so we needed to look at the research. We found 17 studies and if you average those it comes out at 56% who experience withdrawal systems when they tried to come off antidepressants and about half of those described them as severe. What this tells us is the guidelines need to be changed radically to reflect reality. The problem is GP’s use those guidelines to inform themselves, so when someone says they’ve had withdrawal symptoms s for a month they see the guidelines and think that can’t be true.
John Read: The symptoms the get range from headaches and dizziness to extreme levels of anxiety, incapacitating levels of anxiety, difficulty sleeping which can be destressing when you’re already struggling not to be able to sleep but there’s a whole range of effects. The important issue is how long they last, most of us can get through something in 2-3 days but these can go on for weeks or months and in some cases, it’s gone on for years. These are serious withdrawal effects and they have been minimised by professional organisations and guidelines for a long time, partially to be fair is there wasn’t much research until relevantly recently but they now need to get up to speed and change their guidelines.
John Read: There sometimes can be a disconnect between a committee of people trying to do their best and come up with guidelines. Antidepressants are not addictive and people don’t crave them, but they are the level of dependent which is difficulty coming off. So, I think the people on these committee are well intentioned and we would be better off who would be on them who are receiving money from drug companies, that can be a factor at times, there a conflict of interest are real and need to be dealt with properly so people on these committee do not have conflicts of interests.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.