I Know Antidepressant Withdrawal Is Real. Why Didn’t Doctors?

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From The Guardian: “It is too easy to simply state that doctors need to listen more to patients in cases such as these. Proper research needs to be conducted. But it is telling that patient stories weren’t enough to bring about change to prescribing and withdrawal guidelines: that has happened only because clinicians such as Taylor, who also happened to be a patient, have experienced withdrawal and studied it as a result. Taylor told The New Yorker that had he not suffered withdrawal, he probably would have accepted the standard guidelines.

The lack of research on the effects of withdrawal by pharmaceutical companies rushing their medicines out into the world is also undoubtedly a factor. As is the minimising by drugs companies of such research that does exist – ‘highlight the benign nature of discontinuation symptoms, rather than quibble about their incidence,’ read one internal memo seen by The New Yorker . . .

One in six adults in England takes antidepressant medication: 7.3 million people in 2017-8 were given a prescription, 70,000 of whom were under 18. These pills are often prescribed in consultations taking less than 10 minutes. Friends have described watching GPs Google antidepressant medication before prescribing. Patients in the throes of withdrawal and in desperate need of support are left languishing, with no appointments available. An underfunded NHS, including mental health services, is not equipped to cope.

None of this is to say that antidepressants are bad, that they cannot be transformative, or give people back their lives. I am grateful for what they have done for me in times of profound distress but I wish I had known the nature of the journey that I would be embarking on; that stopping the train because you want to get off would be such a nightmare.

Why, when the health of so many people is at stake, did it take so long to listen to patients?”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. “Why, when the health of so many people is at stake, did it take so long to listen to patients?”

    “patient stories weren’t enough to bring about change to prescribing and withdrawal guidelines: that has happened only because clinicians such as Taylor, who also happened to be a patient, have experienced withdrawal and studied it as a result.”

    In other words, the doctors are still not listening to the patients. It’s a shame many of our “mental health” workers and doctors don’t believe “all people are created as equal,” thus aren’t listening to their patients. How anti-American.

    But since we know the doctors are not listening to the patients, we should likely not “trust your doctor.” Since you can’t have a mutually respectful and beneficial relationship with a person who does not listen to you.

    And one must also ask, at what point do we stop calling the so called “experts,” who were fraudulently claiming decades ago that they “know everything about the meds.” But who obviously still don’t know much of anything about the drugs they are prescribing – largely likely because they are not listening to the “experts by experience” – “experts”?

    For example, read this ‘confession’ pointing out that the doctors didn’t know that antidepressant discontinuation causes “brain zaps” until 2005.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247806326_'Brain_shivers'_From_chat_room_to_clinic

    “I Know Antidepressant Withdrawal Is Real. Why Didn’t Doctors?” It is really profitable for our medical community to misdiagnose the adverse and withdrawal effects of the antidepressants as a “return of your illness” or “bipolar” in millions and millions of people, including a million children.

    https://www.alternet.org/2010/04/are_prozac_and_other_psychiatric_drugs_causing_the_astonishing_rise_of_mental_illness_in_america/

    Follow the money? Although, this lack of ethics issue would be another reason to not “trust your doctor.”

    • Well, when you’re a “mental” patient, you can be easily ignored because your mind has supposedly failed completely, making any thing you say implausible and probably delusional. A patient could easily rid himself of his psychiatrist by monitoring his (her?) movements to discover when the physician’s regularly crossing a busy street. The patient arranges to constantly be on hand until a speeding car is spotted, whereupon the doctor’s informed by the patient to watch out for the speeder; whereupon the doctor will immediately step into the street, knowing the patient is divorced from reality and thereby can’t say anything realistic.