From Psychology Today/John Read, PhD: “Two psychiatrists from University College London (Mark Horowitz and Joanna Moncrieff) and I have published the findings of our survey of 1,276 members of Facebook groups for antidepressant users from 49 countries, entitled ‘Designing Withdrawal Support Services for Antidepressant Users: Patients’ Views on Existing Services and What They Really Need.’
It is the second-largest international survey of antidepressant users ever conducted. It found that the majority (71 percent) experience their prescribing doctor as ‘unhelpful’ when it comes to supporting their efforts to withdraw. Most doctors were uninformed about withdrawal symptoms and therefore denied their existence and/or recommended withdrawal much too quickly.
The services that patients would have found ‘very useful’ but had been unable to access include:
- Smaller doses (e.g., tapering strips, liquid, smaller dose tablets) to ensure gradual reduction.
- A health professional providing a personalised, flexible reduction plan.
- A telephone/online, video/online chat helpline.
Our study concluded: ‘Our findings indicate, in keeping with previous studies, that clinicians require upskilling in safe tapering of antidepressants and that patients need specialised services to help them stop safely.’
These recommendations, by hundreds of patients who have been badly let down by their doctors, precisely echo the recommendations of the comprehensive Public Health England report in 2019. However, the NHS has still not put in place a single specialised withdrawal service, helpline, or training programme for doctors. Meanwhile tens of thousands of people are turning to Facebook groups all over the world for support and guidance, to fill the void left by mainstream services.”
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