A team of researchers from the United Kingdom and Sweden conducted a systemic review of the scientific literature for antidepressant use. The research spanned 23 relevant studies with diverse methodologies and sample sizes and investigated the severity and incidence of withdrawal symptoms from antidepressant use. The research, published in the journal Addictive Behavior, concludes that current guidelines for antidepressant use in the U.S. and U.K. are not evidence-based. The research reveals that antidepressants elicit prolonged withdrawal symptoms, and inflict permanent, lasting damage in the minds and bodies of patients.
The American Psychiatric Association and the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence state that withdrawal reactions from antidepressant drugs are only “self-limiting.” The guidelines state that withdrawal effects will resolve on their own between one and two weeks.
The new research finds this postulation to be a gross underestimation of antidepressant withdrawal effects. The official guidelines are deceptive and have significant clinical implications that negatively impact patients’ lives and family well-being.
The researchers sharply criticized the U.K. and U.S. guidelines on antidepressant use: “We recommend that U.K. and U.S.A. guidelines on antidepressant withdrawal be urgently updated as they are clearly at variance with the evidence on the incidence, severity and duration of antidepressant withdrawal, and are probably leading to the widespread misdiagnosing of withdrawal, the consequent lengthening of antidepressant use, much unnecessary antidepressant prescribing and higher rates of antidepressant prescriptions overall. We also recommend that prescribers fully inform patients about the possibility of withdrawal effects.”
Out of fourteen studies, incidence of withdrawal effects was as high as 86 percent, with a weighted average of 56 percent. Over half of patients struggle to come off the drugs and feel stuck in a cycle of hopelessness and dependence. The study debunked current guidelines and found that the withdrawal effects can last for several weeks and/or several months. During that time, patients feel more anxious, depressed, and may act out in uncharacteristic ways.
Most shocking, nearly half (46 percent) of antidepressant users undergo “severe” withdrawal effects that destroy their ability to function normally in society. These “severe” effects may include homicidal ideation, suicidal thoughts, self-destructive patterns, or anti-social behavior.
The most common withdrawal reactions include insomnia, which can permanently disrupt the person’s circadian rhythm, sleep/wake cycle, dreaming, and restoration. This debilitating effect alone can make a person more depressed. Another typical withdrawal effect was increased anxiety; the drugs tamper with the person’s ability to deal with reality, process emotions, and solve problems in day-to-day life.
Antidepressants damage the person right from the start by impairing their autonomy and resilience, increasing their dependence on so-called medical help. Antidepressants drugs make life harder in the long run, empowering depression and creating new mental and physiological problems.
Physical withdrawal effects include diarrhea, sweating, flu-like symptoms, weight gain, metabolic disorders, and imbalance. Mental effects commonly reported include hallucinations, confusion, malaise, agitation, and irritability. Some of the strangest problems include electric shock-like sensations, lapses in memory, and tremors. Many of these symptoms impart lasting and permanent damage to the patient’s body, their life experiences, and their relationships. Most concerning, withdrawal symptoms may induce hyper-aroused states, mania, and hypo-mania - turning the person into a psychiatric patient for life. Some people lose the ability to cry while others feel like they are walking around in a malaise. Sometimes patients experience permanent sexual dysfunction and states of dementia.
The study found that anti-depressants are being over-prescribed because the severity of the side effects are downplayed and ignored. The study also found that the severe withdrawal effects are being confused for patient relapse into depression. This causes prolonged use of the drugs. In other words, a large percentage of severe depression and psychiatric cases are caused by antidepressant use. Because the drugs cause more problems and make people more depressed long term, official guidance and public policy on antidepressant use should be amended.
For more on the dangers of psychiatric drug use, see PsychDrugs.news.