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Psychiatric drug withdrawal study gets news coverage in the UK

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Caspur

There has been a bit of a storm in the UK media over the last couple of weeks. There is an ongoing review of the effects of prescribed drug dependence by the UK government ( All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence) after a request from Public Health England last year. PHE  is an executive agency of the UK government to monitor and improve health and social care delivery in England. The committee working on this project consists of many people, ranging from psychiatrists, doctors and psychologists through to people who have recovered from medication withdrawal and now campaign for change.

 

The details of the review are here:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/prescribed-medicines-an-evidence-review

 

Last week a member of the review group was forced to resign due to his obvious connections to the pharma industry. Professor David Baldwin, a professor of psychiatry, has taken payments for his 'work' from at least 12 different pharma companies. He was put forward to participate on the review panel by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the main UK professional body for psychiatry. Not surprisingly, many people objected due to his industry connections and he received quite a lot of negative publicity, especially on social media, which he blamed for his resignation from the group. In fact a very reasoned and well worded complaint about Baldwins participation in the project was lodged with the Royal College of Psychiatrists by a group of 30 psychiatrists, doctors, psychologists and people in recovery from antidepressant withdrawal, which they chose to ignore. The complaint was then escalated to the Secretary of State for Health (the leading UK government health minister).

 

Baldwins resignation made front page news in two national newspapers:

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6203875/Government-drugs-advisor-QUITS-sustained-campaign-abuse.html

 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/drugs-adviser-david-baldwin-quits-after-being-branded-worse-than-hitler-in-online-abuse-row-srtqltmfs

 

https://www.madintheuk.com/2018/09/royal-college-of-psychiatry-representative-resigns-from-government-review-after-complaints-about-his-drug-company-involvement/

 

Today there has been coverage of research published by two other members of the Prescribed Drug Dependence Committee, James Davies and John Read. I haven't seen a copy of the paper published by these well respected authors (Dr James Davies wrote Cracked and Professor John Read is well know for his work on and support of non drug treatments for mental health). When I find a copy I will post  it here. In the mean time these are the media articles that have been published today

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6228645/Now-doctors-wake-dangers-patients-hooked-depression-pills.html?ito=amp_twitter_share-top

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6229295/Millions-warned-severe-withdrawal-risk-coming-antidepressants.html

 

Accompanying this, there has been quite a bit of coverage on social media:

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1044581415686477/?multi_permalinks=1465564233588191&notif_id=1538434827319380&notif_t=group_activity

 

https://fiddaman.blogspot.com/2018/10/breaking-antidepressants-cause-majority.html

 

Most of the coverage has been positive for the cause and there are rumblings about the possibility this research will have a positive affect on the warnings regarding withdrawal from psychiatric drugs, given out by health agencies and organisations in the UK. It would be nice to think the coverage will go further than that, but we shall see.

 

Thanks

Caspur

 

 

 

 

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Altostrata

Very thorough, Caspur, thank you.

 

The Guardian has coverage here https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/02/antidepressant-withdrawal-symptoms-severe-says-new-report

 

A press release from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence Web site:

 

Quote

 

Millions at risk from antidepressant withdrawal, new review concludes
By admin on October 2, 2018 in News

 

The Journal of Addictive Behaviors has today published a new systematic review which shows that antidepressant withdrawal is much more widespread, severe and long-lasting than indicated by current guidelines, with millions of antidepressant users in the U.K. potentially affected. ‘A Systematic Review into the Incidence, Severity and Duration of Antidepressant Withdrawal Effects: Are Guidelines Evidence-Based?’ was undertaken by Dr James Davies, University of Roehampton and Professor John Read, University of East London, on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence.

 

The review indicates that an average of 56% of patients who stop or reduce their antidepressants experience withdrawal symptoms, with 46% of these reporting their symptoms as severe.  Furthermore, most of the studies reviewed on duration found that a significant proportion of patients experienced withdrawal symptoms for more than two weeks, and that it is not uncommon for patients to experience symptoms for several weeks, months, or longer.  According to one study, 40% of patients experience symptoms for at least 6 weeks, and another indicates that 25% experience symptoms for at least 3 months.

 

Based on this data, the authors estimate that around 4 million people in England may experience symptoms when withdrawing from antidepressants, and around 1.8 million may experience these as severe.  In all, these findings contradict current national clinical guidelines (issued by NICE – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), which state that antidepressant withdrawal symptoms ‘are usually mild and self-limiting over about 1 week but can be severe’[1].

 

Dr James Davies: ‘This new review of the research reveals what many patients have known for years – that withdrawal from antidepressants often causes severe, debilitating symptoms which can last for weeks, months or longer.  Existing NICE guidelines fail to acknowledge how common withdrawal is and wrongly suggest that it usually resolves within one week.  This leads many doctors to misdiagnose withdrawal symptoms, often as relapse, resulting in much unnecessary and harmful long-term prescribing.’

 

Sir Oliver Letwin MP, chair of the APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence: ‘This systematic review provides important new data on antidepressant withdrawal which will be considered by Public Health England as part of their current review into prescribed drug dependence.  The data suggests that existing medical guidelines in this area should be urgently updated to reflect the fact that antidepressant withdrawal is much more common, severe and long-lasting than previously stated. Furthermore, we hope that other medical bodies will take note of this new research, and update their own guidance accordingly.’

 

The review can be found at http://prescribeddrug.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Davies-Read.pdf

 

[1]NICE, 2009, 1.9.2.1 in CG90

 

 

This is a pdf of a draft of the paper http://prescribeddrug.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Davies-Read.pdf

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dj2010

On bbc also, I’ve sent links to family members, hopefully now will start getting some sympathy

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Lloyd

Finally some recognition that withdrawal syndrome is a far more prevalent and serious then what its been made out to be. It can't be swept under the carpet for ever with more and more people speaking up about it.

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India

I am so grateful for this. I managed to get through to a project called "the Bristol tranquilliser project" , the only project in the U.K. that recognises ssri withdrawal. As you can imagine, they are inundated. I have just reinstated at 6mg of citalopram  after lower doses failed to work to stabilise my horrendous symptoms. I've been dealing with dissociation and horrendous crippling anxiety and cognitive slowing. I find that i do well with contact support as I'm finding forums harder to access due to cognitive slowing. I do appreciate it though but the lack of support can be very hard. I have never experienced anything to this level in terms of the anxiety.  However, I do get windows and this is what I am holding onto. Windows of hope. This review is so important .. it could represent a seismic shift in the U.K. In person support groups and 24 hour phone lines would be lifesavers. 

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Bee5

I have read several of these articles, and I am so glad this study was done, by the respected Dr Davies and Prof Read. Finally, withdrawal is getting some acknowledgement and recognition.

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Martina23

I am also so happy. I just wait when the other articles for example about Lyrica and benzos come out. I wish I could have helped more. I did but this country is so stuck, nobody is working, taking care. It pains me.

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Caspur
7 hours ago, Distraut said:

Yes, I read this earlier. She was quite brave to be so candid. She does work for the Daily Mail though, so I guess there's some good support for her there! I was quite surprised she was so forgiving of the doctors who prescribed the meds. It is partly their fault. They desperately need to educate themselves about withdrawal, listen to their patients and reduce the inevitable 'relapse' diagnoses.

Capsur

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snostorm

Awareness has been painstakingly slow to go mainstream.  Just a simple google of antidepressant withdrawal will bring you to numerous health websites that still characterize it as "discontinuation syndrome" and most say it resolves in a few weeks.  How has this happened?  The government let it happen with the FDA approval of these medications with zero data on long term exposure, and the consequences of coming off. The pharmaceutical lobby.  The Doctors who prescribe it. There is plenty of blame to go around. With the realization that millions are now dependent the public must demand our government officials address this crime.  We are heading that way.  But it is painstakingly slow as our mainstream media is too busy fighting culture wars. 

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Caspur

Hi All,

This piece of research really is the gift that keeps on giving. There have been many different news papers covering the topic, some in multiple articles and there have been TV news pieces and  interviews off the back of it. The coverage seems to have encouraged more people to speak up,which is great. Even better, there have been some heeded calls for UK health agencies and organizations to update their advice on antidepressant prescribing and risks. This includes, NICE - the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence -  which produce the guidelines that doctors are supposed to abide by.

 

Here's a selection of the more recent articles:

 

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16979395.scotlands-secret-addicts-the-patients-hooked-on-antidepressants-and-harmed-by-withdrawal/?ref=fbshr&fbclid=IwAR0tV-u06Jqo88Jpu4-LRC9lB2pX0Nw8UixEMSvuX4afFL8st-T9LyAWB1Y

 

This one is particularly interesting as the lady in question is the wife of Michael Gove MP, who is the current UK Home Secretary ( a senior cabinet minister). She can't get off her AD meds safely.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6236567/SARAH-VINE-given-antidepressants-cope-black-dog.html?fbclid=IwAR29N0KXyUbLqsOFwhF6ol0rV1fkcPG9ta_1y0nvv8VPQmV-3Pi3JjiwWz8

 

https://doctorterrylynch.com/prescribed-drug-dependence-psychiatrys-appalling-response-to-research-findings/?fbclid=IwAR0S8hIYqUrZENw_uD7nyHGjiOReS8dcwx4Nntdu4GJUtnKV8-qg0LMtOD0

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-45794690?intlink_from_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Ftopics%2Fcwlw3xz04egt%2Fmental-health&link_location=live-reporting-story&fbclid=IwAR2rh09FCARSMCaDigDcJHnaC2fuj1C_qAk3-IyROXNM5wT40F9zirc7e1M

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/side-effects/201810/antidepressant-withdrawal-said-affect-millions?fbclid=IwAR3XVkOQ4R9TjDlF1lPssiPEQR_eA2uq3hdZjvikGHIDYQnwsA5_cBm-peQ

 

https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/10/results-world-largest-antidepressant-study-look-dismal/?fbclid=IwAR1RCSf6jgUfyggs6_Xp1MB2i3g-JpHROQRiEniYTs1MsKPHTCNrX8K4Lgw

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNxBEpYSJEc&fbclid=IwAR0uOAUEU1XDtHoayZbEubap-FeHBQ3Z3xwDhJ_eTqubh8tktc1jOXIwXUM

 

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/antidepressants-cause-severe-withdrawal-symptoms-hallucination-mania-anxiety-new-?fbclid=IwAR1FSwIJuau28EdiVLHKV2TOdu5BQET9th4bZCDygXsyUw3zg7591QuExAk

 

http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/clinical/clinical-specialties/mental-health/nice-antidepressant-withdrawal-guidance-misleading-and-without-evidence/20037572.article?fbclid=IwAR3_NZV0ZKhaSx5ghUQjcoX_EVF9REEL_NTdLki3GuBWTfF-KPVvsd8U5Ao

 

Love and peace to all!

Cheers

Caspur

 

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Lloyd

I love this quote! Might have to show this to my Phsychiatrist who said that it doesnt last more than a few weeks. See what they have to say about it.

 

"Nearly half also said they experienced withdrawal symptoms for more than a year, and 30% claimed they gave up work due to withdrawal"

 

http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/clinical/clinical-specialties/mental-health/nice-antidepressant-withdrawal-guidance-misleading-and-without-evidence/20037572.article?fbclid=IwAR3_NZV0ZKhaSx5ghUQjcoX_EVF9REEL_NTdLki3GuBWTfF-KPVvsd8U5Ao

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AbbyElfie

Thank you for this. My Skype CBT therapist pulled up the Herald article today and said she was very interested in it, it seems I have her support which is amazing. Now to convince my GP. @Caspur, would you mind if I copied and pasted the main parts of your original post to form a letter for my doctor?

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Lloyd

 

Great to know that proffesionals are starting to pay attention as-well. The more attention this gets the more likely that research will be conducted into discontinuation syndrome & offer some more insight & possibly treatment for those of us suffering.

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Caspur
17 minutes ago, AbbyElfie said:

Thank you for this. My Skype CBT therapist pulled up the Herald article today and said she was very interested in it, it seems I have her support which is amazing. Now to convince my GP. @Caspur, would you mind if I copied and pasted the main parts of your original post to form a letter for my doctor?

Hi AbbyElfie,

Please feel free to use the information as you wish. I have no problem at all with you copying my text.

Cheers

Caspur

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AbbyElfie

Thank you! Much appreciated x

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AbbyElfie

Hey guys, I have attached a template of a letter I wrote and sent to my doctor today. The attached doc basically sums up the above information and gives them the opportunity to read the evidence and reconsider their line of treatment for anyone in withdrawal. I've removed bits of personal info to make it more generic, and highlighted in red parts where you will need to add your own information. (Admin, if this is in an inappropriate place my apologies, please let me know). 

 

Might help those who are not in a good enough state to gather info/write out a letter.

Doctor Withdrawal Template.docx

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DrugfreeProf

What a great letter, AbbyElfie. Thank you for sharing it and for including all of those links to recent articles.

My goal for the future--what I will do once my daughter has completely recovered (and she is well on the way!) from protracted withdrawal-- is to send out a letter like this to her former prescriber, local psychiatrists, and others who are still engaged in wreaking people's lives, wittingly or unwittingly, via the promiscuous prescribing of these poisonous drugs. 

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Caspur
1 hour ago, AbbyElfie said:

Hey guys, I have attached a template of a letter I wrote and sent to my doctor today. The attached doc basically sums up the above information and gives them the opportunity to read the evidence and reconsider their line of treatment for anyone in withdrawal. I've removed bits of personal info to make it more generic, and highlighted in red parts where you will need to add your own information. (Admin, if this is in an inappropriate place my apologies, please let me know). 

 

Might help those who are not in a good enough state to gather info/write out a letter.

Doctor Withdrawal Template.docx

Great letter. Good stuff. Please post any response here, if you get one. For info I have written a similar letter to my psychiatrist, which I posted early last week. No response as of now. Copy attached for anyone who want to reuse.

Cheers

Caspur

Dr_letter_8-10-18.docx

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Bridgetini

Thanks very much for sharing the template letter, @Caspur. I shall be bringing a copy to my next meeting with my psychiatrist in January.  If he is not amenable to helping me to taper in a controlled fashion, I will ask my G.P.

 

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Caspur

Please can subscribers to this forum sign up to the email updates from the http://prescribeddrug.org/ site? There are only 222 people subscribed so far. There are many thousands of people on this forum who will benefit from the work this organisation are doing. I do appreciate many people have their own struggles and are in countries far away from the UK, but I'm sure the results of their work will have an impact outside the UK in the medium to long term. Lets show them there's a lot of interest in what they are doing 🙌

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Bee5

@Caspur, I have signed up! Even though I live far away.

 

I also emailed my psychiatrist the link to an article about the Davies and Read study. Hopefully he will take it seriously. I am in South Africa, so the proliferation of new information/material is a bit delayed, but we get there eventually :).

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India
15 hours ago, DrugfreeProf said:

What a great letter, AbbyElfie. Thank you for sharing it and for including all of those links to recent articles.

My goal for the future--what I will do once my daughter has completely recovered (and she is well on the way!) from protracted withdrawal-- is to send out a letter like this to her former prescriber, local psychiatrists, and others who are still engaged in wreaking people's lives, wittingly or unwittingly, via the promiscuous prescribing of these poisonous drugs. 

@DrugfreeProfIt is so wonderful to hear of your support for your daughter. I think it's so important that the families and supporters of those suffering from protracted withdrawal present their accounts to the medical establishment. Not only does it confirm the experience of the loved one whose presentations are often dismissed but it highlights the impact this is having on families. My protracted withdrawal has put a huge strain on my family. I have also had to postpone a course for a whole year. 

I am so glad to hear your daughter is healing. 

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India

@AbbyElfie This is a fantastic letter. It will help many who find letter composition difficult due to cognitive WD symptoms. I would like to write to my GP. I feel nervous about challenging their fixed viewpoint but if letters could be written en mass it could infiltrate the profession at a far reaching level. GPs must surely must see patients coming with WD symptoms all the time. I suppose most patients have already bought  into the idea these are a return of their symptoms. What about those that did not have such symptoms before though? I find it hard to believe that despite the 3 GPs and one psychiatrist I have dealt with categorically stating they have not had patients who have found it hard to withdraw, surely this can't be correct?  I wonder if they believe this because they are pre-filtering and thus it is not registering as PAWS or if they are refuting the evidence knowingly, or a mixture of both?  I suppose it depends on the GP. Psychiatrists are in a different ballgame.

 

It's interesting that the Daily Mail have been outspoken championing the cause. Though it's a sensationalist rightwing paper, perceived as unrealiable ( see sources, Wikipedia, and Guardian) but on the contra side exposure is what counts here. The Guardian has picked up on it but to a lesser extent. Work of the APPG is exciting. Fingers crossed. Imagine if more psychiatrists were like Joanna Moncrieff and Sami Timimi.

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India
1 hour ago, Caspur said:

Please can subscribers to this forum sign up to the email updates from the http://prescribeddrug.org/ site? There are only 222 people subscribed so far. There are many thousands of people on this forum who will benefit from the work this organisation are doing. I do appreciate many people have their own struggles and are in countries far away from the UK, but I'm sure the results of their work will have an impact outside the UK in the medium to long term. Lets show them there's a lot of interest in what they are doing 🙌

Done. I agree! I hope they can keep their profile up.

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India

http://prescribeddrug.org/appg-for-prescribed-drug-dependence-calls-on-camden-ccg-to-reverse-decision-to-close-support-service-for-patients-dependent-on-benzodiazepines/

 

I also wonder who is behind the closing down of REST, the only project in London that deals with benzodiazepine withdrawal ( it doesn't cover SSRI withdrawal). That leaves only the Bristol Tranquilliser Project who does support those going through SSRI withdrawal but it takes many attempts to get through to their helpline counsellors. It is a truly awful situation that this service is being cut. It surely ought to be the other way around.

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AbbyElfie

No problem guys, yeah I was thinking the same.. What if everyone could bring a similar letter to their doctor/psych? It could make quite an impact if everyone on this forum alone did so. I will definitely update if I receive a response, feel free to share with anyone or any groups you might think it would be relevant x

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