The Royal College of Psychiatrists has called for support services to be commissioned to help people who suffer severe and prolonged symptoms of depression after coming off antidepressants.
Concerns have been raised over the well-being of patients who have stopped taking antidepressants abruptly having been prescribed them for long periods.
In a report on depression and its treatment, the College made several recommendations including ensuring clinicians have enough time and resources to regularly review antidepressant use and assess withdrawal and the introduction of a monitoring system complete with data on when patients are prescribed antidepressants and the reasons behind it.
The College’s call for support services to be commissioned might be of interest to community pharmacies given their access to local communities and hard-to-reach people.
Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “We know (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) is working on updating its guidelines and want to see them more in keeping with what we’re hearing from some patients and GPs about the range of experiences of coming off antidepressants.
"As psychiatrists, we are duty-bound to take on board the concerns of patients who've experienced more severe and long-lasting adverse effects of withdrawal from these medications.
“Antidepressants can be very effective for treating moderate to severe depression, particularly in combination with talking therapies, and what we want is guidance that best supports their use.
“While we cannot change that guidance ourselves, we will share our report with NICE and Public Health England and hope it will be reflected in updated guidance from them.”
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