This Personal View by Mark Abie Horowitz and David Taylor has been published in this month’s Lancet. I have written to the authors to thank them for providing this sensible and scientific perspective.
What follows are a few sections taken from the overall paper along with brief comments based on my two decade experience of paroxetine:
My experience of paroxetine is that withdrawal symptoms can last many years. In 2004, after a number of failed attempts at gradual reduction, I reduced paroxetine as slowly as I could using a liquid preparation and micro-pipette. Despite this the slow withdrawal [as slowly as I could] symptoms were with me day and night. It took me over a year to gradually wean myself from paroxetine. This was the consequence for me (and my young family)
1 in 5 Scots are now taking antidepressants many of whom are taking them, like me, indefinitely. Dr David Christmas has argued in the Scottish Parliament that there is "compelling evidence" to support this prescribing. The single citation to support this assertion is a study by Geddes from 16 years ago. Anybody interested in this matter might wish to have a look at this study. My reading of it is that it does not provide 'compelling evidence' for long term mass prescribing of antidepressants (prescribing that is now norm).
In a letter published in the TIMES the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated: "we know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment". When I read this I cried.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, with the help of the Science Media Centre and the Mental Elf has repeatedly downplayed the potential for dependence and withdrawal from antidepressants. At the same time the Royal College of Psychiatrists claims that it is "listening".
For sharing my considerations on this subject (some of my wider interests are in ethics and science and realistic medicine) I have faced stonewalling followed by 'Gas lighting' by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
For more than 50 years antidepressants have been prescribed as "personalised medicine" - yet nearly all the evidence supporting this is based on 8 to 12 week trials. Hopefully, a forthcoming book 'The Medical Model in Mental Health' will share the evidence that forms the basis of the long term prescribing of psychiatric medications that now prevails in the western world.
I agree with this conclusion by the authors of this Personal View. I am however worried about "soft power" that may be used behind "closed doors" when it comes to the updating of formal guidelines on antidepressants.
If you have had difficulty in withdrawing from antidepressants please consider signing this petition.