‘We must take a closer look at antidepressants’

On Sunday 14th October 2018 the Herald carried as its main story “Antidepressants: new drug withdrawal crisis for thousands of Scots”. I was one of those who shared some of my experience in this article.

The Editor of the Herald offered this view:

Below are a few of my short films that consider my experience of an SSRI antidepressant:

I was recently asked if I might write a short (500 word) summary of my experience. I share this here:

Name Peter J. Gordon

I am a 50 year old married man with two children. I have been taking an antidepressant for twenty one years. I have found it impossible to successfully withdraw from this drug which I was first prescribed for social anxiety by my GP.

I first experienced withdrawal symptoms with this antidepressant, an SSRI, when I tried to stop taking it, this being 6 months after initial treatment. I found myself dizzy, flu-like and had severe buzzing noises in my head. The only way these experiences would stop was by retaking my antidepressant.

Over the next seven years I tried, unsuccessfully, to gradually reduce my antidepressant. This was very difficult as the proprietary forms did not facilitate tapering. Whilst trying to withdraw, from a drug that I had become dependent on (but did not want to take), I continued to suffer withdrawal symptoms, in particular insomnia (rapid and frequent waking), vivid dreams, headaches, and flu-like symptoms. My mood also dropped and my temperament was irritable and unpredictable.

In 2004 I was prescribed a liquid form of my SSRI, and using micro-pipettes I reduced my dose as slowly as I could over 12 months. Even so I still experienced the withdrawal symptoms described above. I persisted only because I did not wish to take this drug indefinitely. A drug that had been prescribed for social anxiety but had ended up making my life far worse.

In the weeks after finally stopping my SSRI antidepressant I was aware that my mood had become low despite having never suffered depressive disorder and having no family history of this. I became suicidal. After a number of medical consultations I ended up in psychiatric hospital. From the first hospital I ran away and tried to hang myself. However the curtain rail broke. I was then admitted to another psychiatric hospital and commenced on multiple psychotropic medications. I was then given ECT treatment which did not really help. So I was continued on high doses of sedative medications and recommenced on my original SSRI antidepressant. It took much more than a year to recover. I was off work for most of this time. My family, wife and two young children, suffered dreadfully. I mean more dreadfully than I can put into words.

I work as an NHS psychiatrist. I prescribe antidepressants and did so readily, educated as I was by the Industry sponsored “Defeat Depression Campaign”. When I shared my experience of SSRI withdrawal with my colleagues I found that I was not believed. Having been a psychiatric patient they no longer seemed to find credible my subjective experiences. I learned that to raise this matter with my colleagues negatively affected how I was ‘professionally’ considered. If I have felt so disempowered - as a colleague - this surely raises questions how genuine the professional determination is to listen? I mean to listen and value the experience of those who have had less than positive experiences of medication. Yet, we have a dearth of EBM on long-term treatment with antidepressants.

2 Replies to “‘We must take a closer look at antidepressants’”

  1. Establishments abhor Pandora’s Box being opened – especially by one of their own……..

  2. Dear Peter, Thank you for sharing with us your distressing experiences with this particular drug. It is difficult to find anything helpful to say except that maybe people who matter in medical politics are beginning to recognise that not everything in this particular medical garden is rosy. On a personal level you must know that you are a well-loved member of our family, and of course we are on your side. Much love from us both. D&E.

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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