Depression: pills and dependence [a timeline following a letter in the Times]

On the 25 February 2018 the following letter by Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists [RCPsych] and Professor David Baldwin, Chairman of the RCPsych Psychopharmacology Committee, was published in the Times:

25 February 2018, Professor Wendy Burn and Professor David Baldwin: "We know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within  two weeks of stopping them."

What follows is a timeline of responses made by influential UK doctors:

27 February 2018, Dr Samei Huda: “The rise in the use of antidepressants isn’t because people are struggling to get off but because doctors are following the evidence which shows that antidepressants prevent relapse which is common in depression.

10 March 2018, Professor Louis Appleby: “Antidepressants work.  They are not placebo, they are not addictive. Emphatic from Dr Clare Gerada on BBC Radio 4. Dangerous to suggest otherwise.”

26 April 2018, Professor Clare Gerada: “We are prescribing more antidepressants and I think quite rightly.”

26 April 2018, Professor Clare Gerada: “I can count on one hand the number who have gone on to have long term problems withdrawing from antidepressants or problems coming off antidepressants.”

4 April 2019, Dr Samei Huda: “The increase in prescriptions of antidepressants is due to use in pain, more people seeking treatment and longer duration to prevent relapse.”

The following Position Statement by the Royal College of Psychiatrists was published in May 2019:Following the publication of this Position Statement, responses continued:

30 May 2019, Professor Allan Young: “So-called withdrawal reactions from antidepressants are usually mild to moderate and respond well to simple management.”

9 January 2020, Dr David Foreman: “If someone needs an antidepressant to remain symptom free then the dependence relates to the disorder, not the drug.”

6 June 2020, Professor Robert Howard:  “Antidepressant withdrawal is rare and not the issue that some are suggesting.”

7 June 2020, Professor Robert Howard: “The experience of many of us – who follow our patients after discontinuation – because we have always been worried about relapse – has been that withdrawal phenomena are not common and generally resolve quickly.”

22 June 2021, Dr Mark Bolstridge: “The vast majority don’t experience withdrawal from antidepressants.”

2 November 2021, Dr Mark Bolstridge: “There isn’t a dependence syndrome associated with SSRI antidepressants.”

Professor Wendy Burn, when President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, confirmed: “That’s how Twitter works, we tweet what we believe in”.

You can learn more about the determined effort, by those in genuine positions of power, to control the narrative by clicking on the image below: