New study finds antidepressant withdrawal symptoms can last over a year

New study finds antidepressant withdrawal symptoms can last over a year

  • The international antidepressant market will reach upwards of $28.6 billion this year alone.
  • Withdrawal effects of SSRIs, SNRIs, and antipsychotics have continually been shown to last longer than both benzodiazepines and opiates.

A new review released this past April discovers withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants and antipsychotics have the possibility of lasting over a year.

Antidepressant withdrawal is a serious problem for millions of antidepressant users as mentioned in this new review.

The review, published in the journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, was conducted by the University of Florence Associate Professor of Psychology, Fiammetta Cosci, and Maastricht University’s Guy Chouinard. In the review, the researchers point out the withdrawal effects from SSRIs and SNRIs exhibit severe withdrawal symptoms compared to benzodiazepines (ex. Valium, Xanax) and z-drugs.

First synthesized in 1955, Benzodiazepines are a class of tranquilizers that took the place of Miltown (Meprobamate), the first “blockbuster” drug that hit the pharmaceutical market. Miltown became increasingly popular in Hollywood for its miraculous effects. Benzodiazepines soon took the place of Miltown as it grew in popularity. During the late 1970s, Benzodiazepines became the most prescribed medications in psychiatric offices, despite the growing concern of dependency and side effects. Normally SSRIs and SNRIs are considered less damaging than benzos as they cannot be abused, but many believe their safety should be reassessed.

The Chemical Imbalance Theory

Considering the international antidepressant market is expected to hit 26.8 billion by the end of this year, pharmaceutical companies are really trying to downplay the long-term effects.

Oddly enough, Lithium as shown clinical efficacy in treating depression and anxiety, but has never been approved for by the FDA (only for manic-depressive disorder). The real reason being you cannot patent an element.

In this new review, the researchers categorize withdrawal symptoms in three separate groups. Instructor of psychology at the University of West Georgia, Ayurdhi Dhar, explains:

“New withdrawal symptoms and rebounds are short-lived, temporary, and reversible. However, new withdrawal symptoms are new for the patient (nausea, headaches, etc), while rebound symptoms refer to the sudden return of primary symptoms that are often more severe than pre-treatment. Persistent post-withdrawal disorder refers to ‘a set of long-lasting, severe, potentially irreversible symptoms which entitle rebound primary symptoms or primary disorder at a greater intensity and/or new withdrawal symptoms and/or new symptoms or disorders that were not present before treatment.'”

The classes of drugs mentioned in the review do have withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms of Benzos and Z-drugs involve confusion, sweating, rebound anxiety, and psychosis. These withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from two to four weeks but impaired cognition may last longer.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that SSRIs and SNRIs have the potential to cause the same withdrawal symptoms and more.

The researchers found that SNRIs, SSRIs, and antipsychotics have the worst record of withdrawal effects. Antidepressants can alter your immune system, produce pain, depression, numbness, stroke-like symptoms, and a lot more.

A bottle of the Antidepressant Effexor

A bottle of the Antidepressant Effexor

Individuals have seen impaired memory, sexual dysfunction (some have reported permanent dysfunction and loss of feeling), panic attacks, and pathological gambling can continue for over a year after stopping the medication. These side-effects may occur even if the patient tapers off slowly.

In 2014, an article was published by Professor Peter C Gøtzsche of The Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen about the dangers of antidepressants. The Professor has called for all psychiatrists to drop the myth of chemical imbalance theory within the brain. Gøtzsche states that popular pharmaceutical interventions are the main source of imbalances.

“We have no idea about which interplay of psychosocial conditions, biochemical processes, receptors and neural pathways that lead to mental disorders, and the theories that patients with depression lack serotonin and that patients with schizophrenia have too much dopamine have long been refuted. It is very bad to give patients this message because the truth is just the opposite. There is no chemical imbalance, to begin with, but when treating mental illness with drugs, we create a chemical imbalance, an artificial condition that the brain tries to counteract.”

As black lives matter protests erupt and expose the systematically corrupt system we live in today, a perfect environment for declining mental health is made. With declining, mental health comes chemical imbalances as a symptom. This does not mean writing a prescription will treat the cause for depression and anxiety but simply mask the symptoms.

Some patients can benefit from short-term use of antidepressants, but the evidence is building behind the negative effects of long-term antidepressant use.

Treat the cause not the symptoms.