A Systematic Review of Antidepressant Withdrawal Effects
This course is based upon material published in Addictive Behaviors and is available as an open-access article.
Introduction: The U.K.’s current National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the American Psychiatric Association’s depression guidelines state that withdrawal reactions from antidepressants are ‘self-limiting’ (i.e. typically resolving between 1 and 2 weeks). This systematic review assesses that claim.
Methods: A systematic literature review was undertaken to ascertain the incidence, severity, and duration of antidepressant withdrawal reactions. We identified 23 relevant studies, with diverse methodologies and sample sizes.
Results: Withdrawal incidence rates from 14 studies ranged from 27% to 86% with a weighted average of 56%. Four large studies of severity produced a weighted average of 46% of those experiencing antidepressant withdrawal effects endorsing the most extreme severity rating on offer. Seven of the ten very diverse studies providing data on duration contradict the UK and USA withdrawal guidelines in that they found that a significant proportion of people who experience withdrawal do so for more than two weeks and that it is not uncommon for people to experience withdrawal for several months. The findings of the only four studies calculating mean duration were, for quite heterogeneous populations, 5 days, 10 days, 43 days and 79 weeks.
Conclusions: We recommend that U.K. and U.S.A. guidelines on antidepressant withdrawal be urgently updated as they are clearly at variance with the evidence on the incidence, severity, and duration of antidepressant withdrawal, and are probably leading to the widespread misdiagnosing of withdrawal, the consequent lengthening of antidepressant use, much unnecessary antidepressant prescribing and higher rates of antidepressant prescriptions overall. We also recommend that prescribers fully inform patients about the possibility of withdrawal effects.
This course on antidepressant withdrawal is designed for social workers, professional counselors, psychologists, nurses, and substance abuse counselors, who do clinical work. This course is appropriate for beginning, intermediate and advanced level practitioners who wish to develop or increase their knowledge of withdrawal effects from antidepressants. It may also be useful for licensed clinicians who require clinical continuing education courses for license renewal.
Authors: Davies and Read
Learning Objectives: This course will provide the practitioner with detailed information regarding antidepressant withdrawal effects. Specifically, a professional will:
- Identify the incidence of antidepressant withdrawal reactions
- Recognize the severity of antidepressant withdrawal
- Distinguish the duration of antidepressant withdrawal effects
Citation: Davies, James and Read, John. A Systematic Review Into The Incidence, Severity, and Duration of Antidepressant Withdrawal Effects: Are Guidelines Evidence-Based? Addictive Behaviors 26 August 2018.
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This course is Non Interactive .