Coming off antidepressants can take months and doctors must not rush patients into stopping, experts say.
Patients benefit from tapering off the drugs over nine months to avoid getting trapped on the medicines by debilitating withdrawal symptoms, they argue.
Brain scans show that current methods of stopping can lead to abrupt changes that could be avoided with more gradual dose reductions, according to a review of research published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
More than seven million people in England are on antidepressants and the number has been rising. They have been shown to work for severe depression but many patients experience withdrawal symptoms. Critics of current methods say these are often mistaken for the return of depression, leading to people being put back on.