Sinead: 16 Years Of Treatment With Antidepressants and Subsequent Withdrawal


Sinead has taken antidepressant drugs for the last 16 years and attempted to withdraw on several occasions, she describes the challenges that she faced.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Sinead at the age of 23 visited her doctor because she felt depressed
  • How she was searching for answers and support from her GP but was put onto Paroxetine
  • How ironically just being listened to made Sinead feel better even before she started to take her prescription drugs
  • How initially Sinead felt really tired and had racing thoughts but didn’t connect this to starting the drugs
  • How Sinead left Northern Ireland to study in Liverpool and saw a succession of different GPs
  • During this time, Sinead did start to think about stopping the drugs because she felt that they weren’t as effective as when she had started them but was advised by her GP to increase her dosage
  • How one locum GP did discuss tolerance and dependance with Sinead but advised taking a tablet ‘every other day’ to try and withdraw which was very poor advice
  • That Sinead started to realise that if she missed a dose, she felt very unwell, jumpy, frightened, seasick and very emotional
  • That Sinead didn’t think that the drugs were addictive and she had specifically advised by her GP that they weren’t
  • How Sinead did try to take tablets very other day but she felt very unwell and started to think that it was a recurrence of her depression
  • That Sinead did try to stop ‘cold turkey’ and stayed off for 3 months before she felt forced to go back to the doctor and was put onto Prozac briefly before returning to Paroxetine
  • How Sinead felt angry with herself for taking the tablets to begin with and spent lots of time searching online for answers
  • That Sinead did start a gradual taper but with no support and the taper over 5 months was still too fast
  • How Sinead started to feel that she was suffering with antidepressant discontinuation syndrome and felt that she was having to take the tablets just to be able to function
  • How the websites and were a source of support for Sinead
  • That, in November 2013, Sinead started Paroxetine again but wished she hadn’t because restarting after being off for 8 months caused intense physical symptoms and violent suicidal thoughts meaning that Sinead had to move back in with family for support
  • That the worst feeling was electric shock sensations that lasted for five months or more along with akathisia (a movement disorder or feeling of extreme restlessness)
  • How Sinead has now got down to 7 milligrams using a liquid version, is working now and functioning and able to see the wider context
  • How she feels real anger at the manufacturers of these drugs and the fact that the Pharmaceutical companies knew about dependance and withdrawal in the early 1980s
  • How Sinead would want people to consider all the alternatives before starting on psychiatric drugs
  • That Sinead thinks we should be influencing junior doctors to educate them that these drugs do not have the benefits that are claimed of them
  • That we shouldn’t be medicalising normal human experiences and we should reduce diagnosing and labelling
  • That people trying to withdraw should throw the calendar out and trust their own judgement

Relevant links

Surviving Antidepressants

Council for Information on Tranquillisers, Antidepressants and Painkillers