by Robyn Chuter
Antidepressants are one of the most difficult classes of drug to get off, especially after long-term use. But there are ways to minimise the risk of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.
As I’ve discussed in previous articles, antidepressants are now the most commonly prescribed class of drugs in Australia, with ten per cent of adult Australians currently taking some form of antidepressant.
Despite their lack of efficacy when compared to placebo and their laundry list of serious side effects (from sexual dysfunction to bone fractures to premature death – see 5 reasons to think twice before taking an antidepressant and Dying to feel better – long-term use of these medications is becoming increasingly common. Many of my clients have been on antidepressants for decades; some – horrifyingly – since their early to mid teens.
Yet very rarely are patients warned that the longer they stay on these drugs, the more physically dependent on them they will become, and the higher will be their risk of the distressing (and potentially deadly) cluster of symptoms dubbed ‘antidepressant discontinuation syndrome’ or ADS.