Doctors are urged to wean millions of patients off antidepressants


Don’t go cold turkey: Doctors are urged to wean millions of patients off antidepressants gradually to ease withdrawal symptoms

  • GPs should wean patients off antidepressants, new guidelines suggest
  • Experts hope easing people over time will cut severity of withdrawal symptoms
  • Charities are worried doctors aren’t equipped to taper individuals’ medications  
  • The changes come as record numbers of antidepressants are being dished out

GPs should wean patients off antidepressants to ease withdrawal symptoms and help reduce the millions reliant on the drugs, new guidelines suggest.

NHS watchdog Nice said adults who wanted to stop taking antidepressants should have doses reduced in stages, as opposed to going ‘cold turkey’.

Experts hope that easing people off the pills over time will cut the severity of withdrawal symptoms, helping more to quit them successfully. But charities are worried family doctors are not equipped to taper individuals’ medications and urged fewer prescriptions to begin with.

The changes come as record numbers of antidepressants are being dished out. In 2021-22, an estimated 8.3 million patients received an antidepressant drug – up on the previous year’s 7.9 million. The Daily Mail has long campaigned to raise awareness about over-prescribing of antidepressants.

GPs should wean patients off antidepressants to ease withdrawal symptoms and help reduce the millions reliant on the drugs, new guidelines suggest 

The changes come as record numbers of antidepressants are being dished out. In 2021-22, an estimated 8.3 million patients received an antidepressant drug – up on the previous year’s 7.9 million

The changes come as record numbers of antidepressants are being dished out. In 2021-22, an estimated 8.3 million patients received an antidepressant drug – up on the previous year’s 7.9 million

Under the new draft guidelines, those who wish to come off the drugs should first agree with their doctor whether it is right to stop taking the medication, then the speed and duration of withdrawal from it.

Any withdrawal symptoms need to have been resolved, or to be tolerable, before making the next dose reduction, according to the panel of experts.

Mental health charity Mind welcomed the guidelines, which it hopes will ‘provide a focus for improvement’. But a spokesman added: ‘We know that the vast majority of GPs don’t feel they really have the skills to help people taper their medicines.’

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