Millions of patients risk being ‘trapped for life’ on antidepressants, mental health experts have warned, as new evidence shows GPs are failing to help them tackle horrific withdrawal symptoms when trying to come off the potent drugs.
Reduced doses of antidepressants – or just quitting the pills – can trigger insomnia, suicidal thoughts and convulsions, even if they had been taken for as little as three months.
Health chiefs issued guidance to GPs about the dangers in 2019, but a study of more than 67,000 patients posting on dedicated social-media forums has revealed many are still suffering without proper medical support.
The concerns come amid surging demand for antidepressants during the Covid-19 pandemic, with six million prescriptions issued between June and September last year alone – the highest figure on record.
Official figures show nearly a fifth of the UK population are taking the pills, which work by upping the amount of mood-regulating chemicals in the brain. For many, they are a lifeline.