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NICE guidelines on antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are misleading, study shows

Published on 09/10/18 at 11:31am

Current NICE guidance concerning the severity of the effects of antidepressant withdrawal is misleading doctors according to research published in the journal Addictive Behaviours.

NICE guidelines currently suggest that antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are “usually mild and self-limiting over about one week”. However the study which compared 23 different studies from the UK and abroad found that 56% of those who attempted to come off antidepressants experienced withdrawal symptoms. Meanwhile 46% of those who experienced withdrawals described them as severe.

Furthermore the researchers revealed that NICE’s guidelines had been “derived, at the time, from only two pieces of research”.  The paper goes on to say that “NICE's current position on antidepressant withdrawal was not only originally advanced on weak evidence, but is 14 years out of date and countered by subsequent evidence, as can be seen in this review.”

The news has come after an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence suggested that many GP’s fail to warn patients about the side effects of antidepressant withdrawal. An associated survey of 319 patients revealed that 64% were given no information about potential risks and side effects while nearly 30% claimed they experienced withdrawal symptoms for more than a year after coming off the drugs.

Louis Goss

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