Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are frontline treatment for depression. Prescriptions of antidepressants have more than doubled in the last decade according to figures from NHS Digital.
When coming off of antidepressants (cessation), individuals can experience withdrawal syndrome. This can highly resemble the symptoms of depression, such as low mood and feeling suicidal. This can make people feel that they are relapsing and become depressed again, which can in turn lead to them starting back on their antidepressants when actually they are not needed.
Previous (controversial) research has found that when given a scale to describe the withdrawal effect severity, nearly half of people choose the most extreme option (Davies & Read, 2018). Further, the discontinuation period (the 14 days after cessation) has found to be associated with a 60% increase in suicide attempts (Valuck & Orton, 2009). Moreover, patients are hesitant to stop antidepressant use due to the aversive nature of the withdrawal syndrome.