Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The true situation about antidepressant discontinuation problems

I’ve mentioned before (see previous post) that I signed a complaint to the Royal College of Psychiatrists about a statement made by Wendy Burns, the President, and David Baldwin, the Chair of the Psychopharmacology Committee, that discontinuation problems on stopping antidepressants resolve within two weeks for the vast majority of patients. I do not think this statement is evidenced-based. The complaint has been dismissed by the College as unfounded (listen to MIA Radio podcast)

Minimising the significance of antidepressant discontinuation problems doesn’t seem to matter to the College. I’m not convinced the College membership fully agrees with this unwillingness to engage with the evidence and I am ashamed as a member of the College about this apparent lack of concern. As I said in my previous post, there is a history of antidepressant discontinuation problems being minimised, even denied, and this situation just seems to be being perpetuated by the College.

On the other hand, I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that the College is unconcerned about the truth of a matter of this sort. It finds it difficult to acknowledge the political and ethical implications of psychiatric practice. However neutral and objective the College may like to think it is, it exists, actually, as an institutional structure to justify psychiatric treatment, such as antidepressant medication. So, it would want to minimise problems caused by medication, wouldn't it? More generally, the validity of what it promotes as science does need to be challenged (eg. see previous post). We should not assume that the College has full and absolute legitimacy in truth over psychiatric matters and this has been demonstrated by the way this complaint has been handled.

Let's hope Wendy Burns and David Baldwin are prepared to discuss these matters further now that the complaints procedure is over.


Anonymous said...

Has the complaints process ended altogether Duncan? Is it not being referred to the GMC - whatever good that will do...let's not waste much more time on discussions - There are thousands of people suffering from withdrawal and other adverse effects of prescription drugs and many more in the pipe line , including often long term or irreversible harms. They are so well documented by now that the statements issued by the college of psychiatrists are known to be untruthful and immoral. The president and others bring the college and it's members into disrepute. Countless numbers of people are using blogs to describe the harms they are suffering, They also include accounts by parents and relatives of those who have been prescribed drugs which have caused suicides. Yet there is still no research being funded to find the causes of such serious harms so that others can be better protected and hopefully a cure for those who are suffering damaging side effects. For further detailed information and evidence see David Healy blog and the Rxisk blog which is currently trying against the odds to find a research group who will take on this project. susanne

Duncan Double said...


Yes, I think the complaints process with the College is finished. There is no right of appeal.

I think you're right that a complaint could be made to the GMC about the two individuals that made the original statement. As I understand it, the GMC does include public statements that could influence clinical matters within its remit. But the College response has made clear that this is an institutional rather than individual matter and I suspect it can only be taken forward politically.

The other institutional factor which needs to be taken into account is that NICE is currently reviewing its depression guideline. It will be interesting to see what it says about antidepressant discontinuation problems. I don't think we should 'hold our breath' though, as, as far as I am concerned, NICE guidelines tend to be overprescriptive without really having the evidence for that overprescriptiveness.

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

Wendy Burns and colleagues need to be keeping up with the work being carried out by PhD students and thousands of others who are encouraged to think for themselves and actually take seriously the data being provided by people who have and are experiencing withdrawal problems.Sometimes very severely life restricting and irreversable. Will Hall, PhD student from Maastricht is asking for help with his work on withdrawal from antipsychotics. 'Maastricht Antipsychotic Withdrawal Survey.com. The survey can be filled in online. susanne