The Royal College of Psychiatrists challenged over burying of inconvenient antidepressant data

The following letter was sent, by email, at 2.26pm today:

To: Professor Wendy Burn, President – Royal College of Psychiatrists;
Professor David Baldwin, Chair, Psychopharmacology Committee – Royal College of

February 28, 2018

Dear Professors Burn and Baldwin

On 24.2.2018 The Times published a letter signed by you, in your capacities as President, and Chair of the Psychopharmacology Committee, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP). In that letter you made the following claim: ‘We know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment’

We believe that statement is not evidence-based, is incorrect and has misled the public on an important matter of public safety.

Although more research may be needed before any definitive statements on this issue can be made we note that even the RCP’s own survey of over 800 antidepressant users, reported in the RCP document ‘Coming Off Antidepressants’, found that withdrawal symptoms were experienced by the majority (63%) and ‘…. generally lasted for up to 6 weeks’ … and that ‘A quarter of our group reported anxiety lasting more than 12 weeks’.

We further note, however, that within 48 hours of making your misleading statement in The Times you removed the ‘Coming Off Antidepressants’ document from your RCP website. One interpretation of this action, and the timing thereof, is that you wanted to prevent the public from seeing evidence that contradicts your claim in the Times.

We are considering lodging a formal complaint with the appropriate professional body about your misleading the public on a matter of public safety. We would first, however, like to give you the opportunity to publicly retract, explain and apologise for the statement, in The Times and on the RCP website. Alternatively please provide us with the research studies on which you based the statement that ‘in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment’.

We will await your response for one week before deciding whether to lodge the aforementioned complaint.

Please note that, as this is an urgent matter of public safety, we are making the concerns expressed in this letter public. We may also make public your response.

Yours sincerely

Dr John Read
Professor of Clinical Psychology
University of East London

On behalf of:

Dr Steven Coles (Clinical Psychology) Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Dr James Davies (Medical Anthropology) University of Roehampton
Dr Pieter Groot (Psychiatry) University of Maastricht
Professor Peter Kinderman (Clinical Psychology) University of Liverpool
Dr Hugh Middleton (Psychiatry) University of Nottingham
Professor Jim van Os (Psychiatry) University of Maastricht
Professor David Pilgrim (Clinical Psychology) University of Southampton
Professor John Read (Clinical Psychology) University of East London
Professor Sami Timimi (Psychiatry) Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

96 Responses to The Royal College of Psychiatrists challenged over burying of inconvenient antidepressant data

  1. kiwi 01/03/2018 at 5:08 am #

    For anyone to claim that these drugs are not addictive and withdrawal symptoms only last for a week or two is similar to a person denying The Holocaust.

    I had to suffer dreadfully for many years with daily traumatizing withdrawal symptoms. I consider it a miracle i am still alive. I kept myself safe during this time by keeping well away from the medical profession and their similar Burn and Baldwin vacuum of knowledge and denial regarding withdrawal.

    i would really like to invite Burn and Baldwin to try an ssri for themselves for two months say. Then quit it. It may be the best professional development they have ever had.

    • Marie Parker 01/03/2018 at 9:08 am #

      I totally agree. Most people are told they aren’t addictive and you can stay on them long term safely. I have felt suicidal since stopping mine because of the withdrawal symptoms and I’m lucky enough to have good support from family and friends. I feel fearful of everything at the moment and my life is on hold. I feel betrayed by the medical profession.

    • Nan 01/03/2018 at 3:23 pm #

      Great comments, Kiwi! Six years down the road from withdrawal, I agree!

    • Stephen 01/03/2018 at 3:44 pm #

      They KNOW what they are doing & have done. There seems no stopping any of them, for such Barbaric Torture, such as this.
      It is Cruel, Callous & a Most Horrific Torture, of Mind, Body & Soul.
      There is not a day, that goes by, that I do not ever feel truly well, after 22 years of ct.
      A Life in a Human Torture Chamber, of own Body.

      • Jennifer 04/03/2018 at 5:49 pm #

        Hi Stephen, just wanted to respond to your comment to say that your description of your ongoing torment sounds so, so tough. I acknowledge you for your perseverance (not that that’s any compensation for what you’re going through). I wondered if you’d thought to try a different therapy – Human Givens Therapy perhaps? It’s getting some pretty good (and speedy) results for depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. Anyway – thought I’d just mention … I’m sure you’ve done research to the ‘n’th degree already. With respect. J 🙂

        • Maimed78 30/03/2019 at 12:11 am #

          I know you mean well but your comment to Stephen regarding therapy isn’t the answer these problems are neurological damage I have suffered in this human torture chamber as he describes for over seven years since stopping an ssri I was given by my GP told it was safe etc unless you have experienced it you could not believe the physical and mental suffering you endure without relief it is hell on earth and then some like a horror film come true.. Alot off people commit suicide due to the after effects they are physical as much as mental and no amount off therapy will cure you we some off us left maimed. This isn’t an exaggeration beware off these so called magic tablets. Research Bob Fiddaman David Healy Risk Data Based Medicine for answers to what’s happened to you.

          • Stuart 13/11/2019 at 2:54 pm #

            Hi Maimed,

            I know exactly what you’re going through. 5 years ago something went very wrong with trazodone and nearly 5 years off the medication and the negative effects have not gone away. Large parts of my cognition and personality are still…just…not there.

        • Karl 06/03/2024 at 11:00 pm #

          Hi Stuart hope your well and things have got better for you if you want to chat anytime contact me I still get effects over a decade off 👍

    • Lee 22/08/2019 at 10:27 am #


      Did you recover eventually?

    • Lee 22/08/2019 at 10:29 am #


      Did you recover eventually?

    • Maimed78 05/11/2019 at 8:18 pm #

      Did you recover kiwi ?

  2. Marie Parker 01/03/2018 at 9:01 am #

    Two weeks!!! That is a complete joke and that is what Doctors are saying too. My experience proves otherwise. I stopped my escitalopram 8 months ago after being on them for over 10 years and am still suffering awful discontinuation (as the medical establishment like to call it). I have depression, anxiety, mood swings and my IBS has gone through the roof. I didn’t have anxiety this awful before the meds. If it wasn’t for the support of Bristol Tranquiliser Project I don’t know where I’d be. Nobody believes you and you don’t get any advice or help. You just get told you need to reinstate the pills. I’m not sure anyone’s withdrawal resolves in two weeks, more likely two years.

  3. Catherine Clarke 01/03/2018 at 9:30 am #

    What a fantastic letter

  4. Registered Medical Practioner. 01/03/2018 at 9:41 am #

    Agree Kiwi.

    May provide professional development in terms of experiencing the common and devastating ADRs of these drugs.

    SSRI induced AKATHISIA is not well described as “psychomotor restlessness”.

    It is an intense, potentially fatal, neuropsychiatric brain toxicity.

    If anticipated and understood by prescribers, it may be accurately diagnosed before it is misinterpreted as an “Emergent Serious Mental Illness” and the patient is detained and forcibly “treated” with further SSRIs and antipsychotics.

    When this iatrogenic akathisia predictably intensifies, there is potential for a generalised psychotropic malignant syndrome, yet the sufferer may be detained where basic
    life-support – maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance – cannot be accommodated by those responsible.

    Neuro-psychiatric – psychotropic drug toxicities are common, and are commonly misdiagnosed as “mental illnesses” – even when the drugs have been inappropriately prescribed for life’s routine minor adversities, and where no depression existed whatsoever.

    Akathisia is the underlying neurological toxicity leading to SSRI induced harm against self or others.
    This again results in misdiagnosis, and psychiatric labelling for life.

    Doctors have a duty to know and to understand the adverse effects of the drugs they prescribe.
    We carry responsibility for long-term toxicities – Including the common and debilitating antidepressant dependence and withdrawal syndromes.

    With SSRIs in particular, and psychotropic drugs in general, prescribers are ill-informed.

    No antidepressant should ever be prescribed by anyone who cannot recognise, understand and clinically manage akathisia.

    There is published evidence that they do so as a result of:

    “20 years of SSRI manufacturers withholding information on akathisia-induced suicide, in all age groups, from prescribers”.

    • Maimed78 30/03/2019 at 12:17 am #

      What you have said is so true when will this ever stop people are becoming life long patients after being treated for transient conditions I wish all medical professionals were as honest as you.thankyou.

  5. Anne-Marie 01/03/2018 at 11:01 am #

    Thank you for writing this letter. i think you are correct. I was very uneasy at the claims made by Royal College of Psychiatrists as difficulties have been highlighted by many coming off of antidepressants

    I also thought that the claims of the success of anti depressants was overstated – many types do not work for people and several have to be tried and some people remain treatment resistant, or with poor response

  6. Laura 01/03/2018 at 12:13 pm #

    Amazing! Thanks for all your hard work!

  7. Mary Saunders 01/03/2018 at 12:59 pm #

    They are so used to not being called out. This is a great model call-out. Thank you.

  8. Laura Khoury 01/03/2018 at 1:02 pm #

    Trying to get off these drugs is absolute torture. The next time I try tapering off them I am going to take two years to to fully come off them. The last time I tried to taper off, I did it for 6 months. Still absolute torture. So frightening.

  9. Mark E 01/03/2018 at 2:14 pm #

    I believe there are cadaver examinations that prove brain changes. ( on the microscopic level)

  10. Physician. 01/03/2018 at 2:36 pm #

    Thank you to the academic professionals at the Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry for publicly challenging the apparently misleading statement published in The Times by the
    President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) and the Chair of the RCP Psychopharmacological Committee.

    This important letter conveys the highest professional ethical standards, as well as demonstrating academic integrity.

    Accurate documentation of the debilitating impact of SSRI/SNRI discontinuation syndromes is vital for so many patients who feel isolated, not believed and without professional support as they attempt to withdraw from psychotropic drugs.

    It is similarly important to prescribers, and for their potential to re-establish a doctor-patient relationship during the extended, taper-withdrawal experience.

    Such progress might also facilitate a greater awareness and empathy for those suffering such adverse antidepressant drug withdrawal effects such as akathisia and post SSRI, persistent sexual dysfunction.

  11. Louisa 01/03/2018 at 2:45 pm #

    A superb much-needed letter – thank you!

  12. Ronni Gee 01/03/2018 at 2:59 pm #

    Keep up the work to help those of us who have suffered dreadfully during ATTEMPTED withdrawal. Still taking the antidepressants as the alternative (withdrawal symptoms) almost led to suicide.

  13. Mary Maddock 01/03/2018 at 3:24 pm #

    Thank you all so much for standing up for evidence-based research! Many of our lives were turned into a living hell because of all the misinformation we received and the toxic intervention we experienced because of nonscientific, manipulated ‘research’.
    There are so many groups on Facebook full of people trying to come off ‘antidepressants’ and other psychotropic drugs. I know many personally also. People like Burn and Baldwin always forget that people are complex, that we live in a very complex world. Quick fixes will always come back to bite people and the environment surrounding them in the face!

    We are fortunate that we have true, courageous professionals who are not afraid to speak out with us that is if we get the chance!

    • Fiachra 04/03/2018 at 1:08 am #

      Hi Mary,

      There’s an awful lot of Professional misinformation out there in “Mental Health” – Anyone will say Anything.

      Professor Robin Murray though he sounds motivated, in his James Moore MIA podcast of December 23 2017, maintained dopamine superrsensitivity normalisation could come about in months, but this has NOT been my experience.

      For me, the normalisation did come about, but it took many many years.

    • Nafsica Sasa Kelly 05/03/2018 at 12:37 am #

      I am sorry I don’t think medication fix anything Thomas Szasz, Ivan Illich, and Miche Focualt were critical of the whole industry bureaucracy Foucault saw the institutions, techniques and discourses of medicine, along with the penal and other systems, as a means of surveilling and controlling population. What happens to those who are single out and labelled deviants?Is that the sources of further criminal behaviour.Is it the way the police, the courts and the prison select process some of the rule – breakers in society that motivate them to further commit a crime of deviance?Both biological and psychological approaches to criminality presume that deviance is a sign of something wrong with the individual, rather with society.In an early 19th century, it was common to look for physical causes for criminality, thus phrenologist argued that criminal tendencies could be detected in the shape of the skull or size of the brain (Rafter 2008).Others researchers looked for psychological problems, such as personality defects or addictive personalities, often seen to derive from deficiency in the socialisation or childhood environment of the criminal.
      White collar criminal Irish sociologist has paid scant attention to white-collar crime leaving the field largely free to journalism.Societtal harmful behaviour varies greatly so that certain crimes such as theft receive great public attention, In the United States, the chemical inbalnce argument has proven to be important in winning legislative support insurance coverage that gives psychiatry purity with other medical conditions.One other byproduct of the chemical imbalance model its simplicity has to lead to a great deal of comfort on the part of physicians other than the psychiatrist, to dispense psychotropic medications.Believing that they operate within the logic of cause and effect, they merely have to focus on the improvement of the symptoms of the disorder in question and watch for side effects from medication.Marxist ask how we should understand the law in capitalist society; does it extend equal rights to all or is it partisan and biased, primary concerned to protect the interest of the powerful?McCullagh suggest that sociology should ask not who commit most crimes?But who causes most social harm?It may find that much severely harmful behaviour is not defined as a crime, or if defined, offenders are not subjected to criminal charges or punishment.I personally never believe in the chemical imbalance rubbish what we need is skills and build resilience, and confidence, not medication.It is obvious that social rules get backing of the law while others do not because the social rules and laws reflect the balance if the interests of the most powerful groups in the society.This is the process of hegemony, Antonio Gramsci made it very clear this is a process that never ends.Thank you to all the caring professionals who educate people with fruitful education

  14. BOB FIDDAMAN 01/03/2018 at 4:10 pm #

    Here’s a response I had from Carmine Pariante, who often is a spokesperson for the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

    BTW Bob, I have told you that i would have asked @rcpsych about the issue of the leaflet and I did. The leaflet expired in 2016 and should have been revised then. @rcpsyc will produce a revised leaflet with an updated evidence-base and with input from patients and GPs.

    • Maimed78 30/03/2019 at 12:26 am #

      Bob Fiddaman you are an absolute ledge and because off you and others exposing and telling the truth about the adverse and disabling effects these pills can cause I believe you have saved many people’s lives. This has to stop people shouldn’t have to endure this keep up the good work Bob

  15. mary david 01/03/2018 at 4:28 pm #

    In agreement. Its time to engage with those who have been harmed and whose lives have been unwittingly changed by these ‘safe’ drugs. Put an end to this. Time for honest change. There are generations out there who will suffer the same if things don’t change.

  16. Miriam O'Shea 01/03/2018 at 5:07 pm #

    Thank You Jim and Mary Maddock who wrote Soul Survivors my neighbours who stood by me on the many times I have been force treated for simply not knowing my grandparents. Our friends Carmel and Rebecca are no longer with us disabled by psychiatry. We witness many living dead coping with life distress such as losing a parent who not only are dealing with normal life experiences but the added complication of side effects of the drugs that harm not help. I believed in a system where the help harmed me. Here in Cork unless people have lived experience its about profits and jobs and silencing the truth. As a member of Stand by Me said we could be lifted while supporting another and subjected to ECT for empowering humans to heal themselves. Are many of the psychiatrists self medicating addicted to the medications they dole out? Its a revolving door where I am amongst a third helped, a third harmed and a third nothing happens unofficially happens to unofficially told to us by an ex psychiatrist. My turn now to Talk Back. Psychologists and others in the helping profession know the brain heals itself within two years without doing anything. Human beings need presence and love. If you are asking the person in front of you to take a pill you are not in a relationship. It is in relationship we heal. I’m the expert in my lifelong relationship with mySelf 24/7. Love Dr Terry Lynch’s book on Selfhood and his courses for my peers and most importantly family members and professionals. As for ECT its barbarbic. Looking forward to MindFreedom Ireland’s musical and peaceful protest in June. Freedom to be ourselves as we are. All is well. All will be well as we are:-)

    • Fiachra 04/03/2018 at 1:24 pm #

      Dear Miriam,

      I identify.

      I hope I’m not intruding with this piece from Jon Kabat-Zinn

      “..We must be willing to encounter darkness and despair when they come up
      – and face them,
      over and over again if need be,
      — without running away or numbing ourselves in the thousands of ways we conjure up to avoid
      ….the unavoidable…”

      A lot of people are not very keen on the “meditation” approach (and I don’t blame them) but I’ve found it helpful.

      I’ve never suffered from clinical depression though you wouldn’t know this from my records!

  17. Ruth 01/03/2018 at 5:36 pm #

    Thank you for speaking up for all the people who are not believed and have suffered for years with horrendous symptoms for which no help can be found.

    • Karl 05/11/2019 at 8:09 pm #

      Hi Ruth I was on seroxat and have suffered for nearly nine years since I stopped it is horrendous I read you still suffer after effects if you don’t mind me asking was you on seroxat ? And what symptoms do you still suffer ? I still suffer loads since I quit haven’t taken any other medicine since I stopped it has effected my life massively

      • Ruth 05/11/2019 at 8:50 pm #

        Hi Karl , yes it was Seroxat, my balance has been badly affected I suffer from rocking sensation all the time , if I turn quick or look up I loose my balance, I suffer from bad headaches, rhinitis, I get overwhelmed very easily, can’t do bright lights, noise or crowds, have tummy probs. Is any of that familiar to you?

  18. Terry hall 01/03/2018 at 5:38 pm #

    professors burns and Baldwin please let me tell you first hand that withdrawel doesn’t stop after 12 weeks but it last for years the suffering I have endured is a crime to the human race , the data which has been lost or hidden from view should be made public as to the long term damage that these meds do , I have been mislead and harmed in a way you can’t possible imagine, I am 4 years into withdrawel with no healing so when does it stop , 6 weeks or 12 , these drugs cause such a dependency as people become so sick trying to come of them that they feel they have no choice but to stay on them , I was never warned of this just told I had a chemical imbalance and now my life is ruined , I placed my trust in a professional and look where it got me . For me there are to many cover ups that involve peoples lives

    • Maimed78 30/03/2019 at 12:37 am #

      I’m with you Terry seven years in never give up I’m still suffering was never like this seroxat destroyed me after stopping sneaky these drugs all SSRIs that is you either.can have a reaction initially or take them for years feeling relatively okay and then the damage is unmasked in withdrawal.and then you enter a hell you never thought could exist.I believe damage is masked while your on them and comes out when you quit. Were bloody warriors to be honest to endure this and keep going never give up mate

      • Stephen Bailey 08/08/2019 at 12:45 pm #

        Ingested these & ALL Polly Meds.
        My Life is Sheer Hell.
        Living TRAPPED, In A Human Torture Chamber,
        Over 23 years off ALL Psych Meds.
        You CANNOT call this LIFE !
        I Scream & Shout In DISTRESS.
        I am NOT going to tell you all, Exactly what I SCREAM MY GUTS UP WITH.
        But it’s NOT Pleasant for my Friends, Family, Neighbours & others to HEAR.
        Over 53 years of Medical Damages.
        The Hell of ALL Manufacture Diseases.
        Big Pharma & Drs are Truly EVIL.
        WHY the IGNORANCE Docs
        Because you are Puppets, being pulled by BP.
        You are being PAID to Prescribe, such Highly Toxic,
        Mind Bending, Mind DISABLING, DESTROYING Medications.
        These Drugs are DESIGNED to ‘(((DISABLE)))’ The Brain & Also Destroys our Nervous Systems. I am left with PERMANENT Receptor & Synaptic Damages.
        DIBI : Drug INDUCED Brain & Body Injury.
        I ctd 6 x times. Was SUBJECTED to Horrendous Psychiatric Abuse.
        “How Many can TOLERATE this” ?
        Many have contacted me & I have tried to save them.
        Sadly they cannot go on & take their Lives.
        It is a HELPLESSNESS. You feel so Massively ill 24/7 & there is No Pill,
        Nothing to take this away. You have to go through it, Hoping, Praying & Believing in Better. I have destroyed 3 Homes.
        Kicked & Smashed Doors, Windows, Brick Walls & much more.
        PTSD is nothing Compared to all of this.
        TORTURE is BEYOND others Imaginations.
        You have to be Here, to Understand it.
        It rips one apart & it leaves no Prisoners.
        We are a Much LESSER Person, than we were before the Drugs.
        They leave you TOTALLY ISOLATED & VOID, of ALL & ANY good, Happy, Healthy & Proper Life.

        • R. Richman 01/09/2019 at 10:26 pm #

          Torture is the best word. I was on Effexor 15 years and psychiatrist titrated me off over 5 months. I entered panic and terror 24/7 for years. Tried dozens of other meds nothing worked. 7 years later I’m on Disability lost my television career and hate being alive. I’ve been murdered by Effexor withdrawal. I have Anhedonia and no motivation, no creativity, I only feel torture. Was diagnosed with PTSD as result of Effexor withdrawal.
          Been on benzos for years to keep me from suicide. I isolate and it’s so hard staying alive in a body and brain that has nothing to do with who I once was. I’m 63 years old and feel like I’m burning in hell without dying – just constantly feeling the extreme pain of the fire every second. How can I function and stay alive? I have 2 grown children and can’t commit suicide. Tried many times to file complaints with Pfizer but it’s a joke. I don’t see a way out. Last Hope is ECT and I’m not doing that.

          • Honor 10/09/2019 at 9:28 pm #


            Reading your story here, I can relate and you have my utmost sympathy. I had PTSD but recovered fairly well and went back to work and life for a few years. It had not affected my everyday life. I unfortunately went on Antidepressants again in July 2017 for stress but still fully functional. I after three month the first signs and problems appeared but I did not tie them to the meds at the time. By Feb 2018 I was getting really ill and did not know what was wrong with me, I went to the doctors a few times for tests and I had plenty of physical symptoms which were getting worse and more all the time. By the time March came I could not work anymore and they them thought I had MS. Long story short no from NHS kept trying to find out what was wrong with me and left it I was desperate after the MRI came back with no signs of MS.

            I did my own research and found out that I had every serious adverse side effects to the antidepressants by this time the damage had been done to the brain.

            I stopped them when I realised and went in serious withdraws and Akathisia. I then tried wheening myself off them. This was in July 2018 its now September 2019 I am still not able to work my symptoms are far less each time. Mentally and cognitively seems to have done the most damage to the brain. I went through the terror, fear and everything you have and battled with suicidal thoughts often. Mine now comes in waves a few good weeks then all over again its like being on a rollacoaster ride. I have read some people have this for years. Horrendous medicine and mind altering drug should be banned. Whether my brain will fully recover from the damage or inflammation is to be seen. NHS were not interested in trying to find out or do test or even had any idea these meds can do things like this and you can have these problems. None of the doctors are taught any of this have the wrong information about how to stop taking them etc it should be done over months. They are only told and taught to hand them out and not to monitor you for side effects or even aware of any of the ones I went through. They just think you have a new mental health condition and want to have you diagnosed when all you are having are withdrawals which makes you act and seem like you are loosing your mind, I felt like I was loosing my mind and had no idea what was going on. I have never been so terrified in my life going through withdraws when you already have PTSD.

            Like you the only reason I am still alive is I have 2 kids I could not leave alone.

          • Stephen Bailey 10/09/2019 at 11:40 pm #

            Mine is like trying to Live, Cope & Deal, with Life & everything, In a Torture Chamber. Its no good telling anyone. They never listen, or believe us, that its so bad, it stops us from doing the simplest of tasks. I am over 23 years off Polly Meds, incl Benzos, Anti Deps, Lithium & Neuroleptics. I had over 25,000 Pills & years of Depot Injections. These meds are DESIGNED to DISABLE the Brain & eventually the Nervous Systems. The fight is never ending. Thankfully, somehow my aging processes have slowed down, hair never needs cutting every 2-3 Months. I have gone nearly 2 plus years, without needing a Full Hair Cut. Strange things happen after Meds. MS seems to be the case today. However we have so many myriads of issues, that these Drugs & Damages MIMICK. WE KNOW what’s happened to us. I am no longer afraid, as symptoms Continue, mostly from Permanent Synaptic & Neuro chemical Distress & Damage. Keeping Positive helps, no matter what you try to find to occupy & EXCITE the mind with. There is nothing I have not Experienced in this. Progress is slow & painful. But my tears & fears have subsided. The Beast within, tries to win me over, so I let it out, the best way I can, with Love, Acceptance & appreciation, knowing, that I have achieved a lot. Never give in to this. But NEVER push too much against it, as it will keep you for ever sick & depleted. Accept & KNOW, that it is possible to move on, no matter how Highly Disturbing & Painful, it is. Mostly, keep well away from STRESS & CONFRONTATIONS. Forearmed is Forewarned, or visa versa. Peace.

          • Lesley Davies 11/09/2019 at 11:55 am #

            Thanks Stephen for saying all you have said. I only add my voice to yours. However today I’m going to say to a medic I can’t go on trying to come off Seroxat. I just can’t stand the harrowing experience any more. I have been given no back up and support, and always have to DIY my mental health yet I’m in Secondary Care and money is supposed to follow me for care. I’ve been trying to come off since Nov 2017 and can’t cope any more. I’ve taken Seroxat for 24 years and anti-depressants for 35/6 years. Maybe that’s too many anti-depressants and now I’m 68 years old, maybe that’s too old to come off. Who knows. I feel defeated, wronged, and broken.

            Not a very hopeful post. But it’s more honest than the Royal College has been with us. I’m glad your post has encouragement in it, and one day maybe I’ll feel differently and be able to accept myself as I am, and live on the drugs, but live my life despite them. Thanks for encouragement. It does help at these times. And no one here offers anything. Lesley in Nottingham

    • Karl 06/03/2024 at 11:04 pm #

      How are you now Terry ?

  19. christine bell 01/03/2018 at 5:47 pm #

    Thank you for speaking up, the w/d from these drugs is not 6 weeks, it lasts for some for years, for me its been 11 years and I am still not as I was or should be.
    the continuing anxiety makes life unbearable.

  20. Lisbet 01/03/2018 at 6:32 pm #

    The RCP “experts” need to live the experience of traumatising adverse reactions, acute withdrawal and long-term (years) disabling, frightening, isolating and life-ruining effects that can happen with these drugs. This is what has happened to me – and I know there are thousands of others who are suffering – they are using their own support groups online to cope with withdrawal – the medical establishment seems to be oblivious to this. And roll their eyes if you mention you’ve been researching online. It is insulting and completely unsupportive to people who are in great suffering.

  21. Santosh Rishi 01/03/2018 at 8:13 pm #

    I also read somewhere saying that the ‘disease’ may return when the dose is lowered or stopped.

    What to believe?

    • Louisa (counselling trainee and helpline volunteer) 02/03/2018 at 11:06 am #

      Hi Santosh, Some G.Ps seem to still subscribe to the myth of mental ‘illess’ whereby they believe there is some sort of ‘chemical imbalance’ or serotonin ‘deficiency’ in the brain – however there is very little or really zero scientific evidence for that, yet the pills are ‘prescribed’ regardless. I can’t think of an example where this would happen in other branches of medicine – surely someone wouldn’t be given chemotherapy if they only had suspected (or hypothesised) cancer, as it has to be proven first..same for antibiotics, and cholesterol tablets, and so many other drugs.

      So if someone feels bad after forgetting to take their tablet or lowering the dose, I’m thinking that sounds typical of a withdrawal effect?

      If any of us, even when feeling happy, took one of these drugs and then suddenly stopped taking it or lowered the dosage, the chances are any of us could be feeling bad because of it – chemicals suddenly added to the brain/body, but then also suddenly taken away or lowered – both actions are a shock to the system.

      • Santosh Rishi 07/03/2018 at 5:03 pm #

        Dear Louisa, thanks for your reply. I believe the person I am caring for was wrongfully diagnosed as our GP got on the bandwagon and chose the easy option, ( Depression), without conducting proper tests or checks himself. This has cost someone their career and not having a normal life. The underlying problem was not properly diagnosed. After 12 years of suffering and nearly dying, blood tests done showed over-active thyroid!! But then also diagnosed with severe depression and put of antidepressants at the same time!!

        It was the Psychiatrist who raised concerns and made us aware of the long-term consequences of being on high dose of Carbimazole and anti-depressants. After various blood tests showing improvement and letter from the Psychiatrist (ignored), dose of Carbimazole was not reduced. Also, 3.5 years later no re-referral made to the Thyroid clinic for assessment given positive blood test reports.

        The Psychiatrist further raised doubts about diagnose and prescribed treatment. That is when I came across ,’The Sedated Society’ and asked both medications be reduced gradually. Nearly 9 months now and both medications, (anti-depressants and Carbimazole) down to minimum doses.

        Question? is there possibility of miss-diagnose and treatment?

        How would these practitioners behave/act if it was one of their own loved ones?

  22. Patrice 01/03/2018 at 9:21 pm #

    Dr. Read, et al.,Thank you one and all for your excellent statement. It is absolutely a matter of public health that this dangerous, misleading, and entirely false claim be red flagged and challenged. What seems equally important is that a community of honest practitioners and educators such as yourselves has done the right thing, you have outlined the conditions under which accountability must be held. Had ethics been a foremost concern of Professors Burn and Baldwin rather than apparently serving the financial interests of drug companies by using mainstream media to market more psychiatric drugs that have been irrefutably demonstrated to be harmful to many, this letter may never have had to be written. This letter also helps reinstate the lost trust in services that many people would have experienced as a result of their collective knowing that the claim made by Professors Burn and Baldwin was false and misleading. Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship, and when it comes to health care, trust is non-negotiable. It is also right to protect the core value of integrity in scientific research, by calling them out like this. RCP absolutely must retract this statement without delay.

  23. Lesley Davies 02/03/2018 at 1:23 am #

    Thank you Dr Read and the other signatories of your letter. I can add that I have been coming off Seroxat for many months, and have still only got down to 15mg. The experience of coming off is dire. I’m having so many challenges and no support. I just DIY it as best I can. That there are some medics in the profession who realise what we go through is such a relief and very welcome. Thank you for speaking out. It has made me realise that I can speak out too. That we are in it together. Thanks for giving your support, having courage, and for believing in people like me. It makes such a difference.

  24. Khan Arif Masud. 02/03/2018 at 4:51 am #

    I have been on Duloxetine for more than ten years. The side effects were unimaginable. Now, I have been tapering off this drug for last three years. All the side effects I got on this drug, I am getting them again but now in reverse. I wish all the Pharma companies who are marketing these legal worse then street drugs medicines and all the doctors prescribing them should be forced to take these drugs for six months then put into solitary confinement and forced to go cold turkey. Let them find out for themselves where the truth lies. Regards.

  25. Toni Harris 02/03/2018 at 9:23 am #

    I suffered a severe reaction to ssri antidepressant’s , akathisia and other horrendous side effects. My doctor agreed that I was suffering a severe reaction but instead of stopping antidepressants choose to polydrug me with other antidepressants, benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, pregabalin and buspar. The side effects of these medication’s destroyed my life and tried with my doctor’s help to reduce the dosage monthly. I was then told I was sensitive to withdrawals and my doctor stopped reducing the dosage. The serious side effects continued so my doctor withdrew the medication’s for my own health so I was forced to go cold turkey. I was told the side effects and withdrawals would resolve within four weeks. That was a year ago and the serious side effects and withdrawals have not improved at all.

  26. Maria D 02/03/2018 at 9:47 am #

    I asked my doctor for antidepressants when my marriage failed he told me to go home and get over it. The best thing that was ever said to me

  27. Fiona French 02/03/2018 at 12:02 pm #

    Thank you for challenging Prof Wendy Burn and Prof David Baldwin on the completely false claim they have made in their letter to The Times about withdrawal symptoms resolving in two weeks. This is exactly what patients like myself encounter in the consulting room when the link between the horrendous suffering and the drugs is completely denied. For two leading clinicians and academics to be completely dishonest in such a pubic way beggars belief. It makes it abundantly clear that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has no interest in the needs of patients but is only interested in protecting the drug companies and psychiatry itself. If withdrawal symptoms are believed to be short-lived then we need to start disucssing the neuro-toxic damage which causes the suffering over many months or indeed years. We also need to discuss the fact that some of this damage seems irreversible. To inflict so much suffering on patients by prescribing antidepressant drugs and then to deny this suffering is totally unforgivable. Patients need tests, investigations and research into the nature of this harm and what can be done about it. If nothing can be done then the prescribing of antidepressants needs to be curtailed and dedicated withdrawal services set up so that millions of patients are not exposed to the clear risks associated with consuming these drugs.

    • Stephen 02/03/2018 at 1:16 pm #

      My 22nd Year off all these Mind Disabling & Destroying Meds.
      No happy, No Life, No help, No nothing,
      Except, every day, is a Massive Challenge, to do anything.
      I am COMPROMISED in myriads of ways.
      We all are damaged & often No Return to any good Health.
      IATROGENIC HELL. In a Prison. Mental, Physical, Emotional TORTURE.

      • Fiona French 02/03/2018 at 1:17 pm #

        I am so sorry, Stephen and yet our good doctors try to deny the realities of our lives.

        • Stephen 02/03/2018 at 1:33 pm #

          As you must all know by now. I have had to come away from any further supports pages. I tried Immensly hard to give others HOPE & BELIEF, that there is something to Hold on to & for keeping going, in order, that they may eventually recover.
          I have today, AGAIN written to another solicitor.
          I doubt they will prove to be beneficial, due to such a lengthy time, that this has taken up.
          I Must Continue to WARN people, that by Pushing & Struggling, so much against this, will always keep us down, as we have been Permanently Grossly Compromised. Avoid Stress, at all costs. Our Brains (Networks) & CNS cannot cope with STRESS. This must be Understtod for the rest of our lives. This Includes any Emotional Issues, with Partners, Family, Friends & others. Repeated Confrontations, WILL deal a very bad & ugly hand.
          I have come to know the MASSES, that have been brought to their knees & many, that have taken their lives, through such terrible advere reactions to & in trying to withdraw from these Highly Toxic, Damaging Chemicals.

          You made a very Valid comment today.
          Please forgive my Repeating.

          But I had to SMILE at this :

          (YOU) For two leading clinicians and academics to be completely dishonest in such a pubic way beggars belief.

          YES, you may have Inadvertantly Mis Spelt a word, but they sure have Kicked us all, in many Private areas.

          Peace Be with you Fiona & everyone. 
          I will continue, as best I can, in the Hope, that I may Rise again.

          • Fiona French 02/03/2018 at 1:40 pm #

            Thank you, Stephen for describing so well the horrendous damage done to so many by these drugs. It is not the first time I have made that particular error in my typing … and with no edit button I cannot correct!!!! Best wishes.

      • Fergus 02/03/2018 at 1:54 pm #

        Stay strong Stephen, you’re doing your best every day. Reaching out to others is important and movement whether it’s yoga or walking. We all need to belong to something and feel important whether it’s to god, spirituality, family, friends or work. I know you’ve probably tried everything but keep moving, keep kindness and compassion in your heart, for yourself and others. Look to trying to seek and savior positive emotions where you get them, try to identify your strengths and use them more, value and build more social relationships, make small goals and look to build more meaning and purpose, value your achievements and build more. Look at all that is right and that works and keep going in that direction. Good luck and god bless.

      • Ruth 07/03/2018 at 5:08 pm #

        Stephen I am 13 years off now and still suffer everyday I know how bad it gets I keep hoping one day it will end or someone will find a way to help me.

        • Stephen 07/03/2018 at 9:17 pm #

          Its a MIX Ruth.
          Mixture of all sorts & some Filthy Rotten Scoundrels, should have known, that they would eventually kill me.
          They come on STRONG. They have no Qualms, They are Laid Back & Ignorant, denying any part of this, amounting to Total Degredation.
          Aftr my 7th year, I seemed to have lost the very bad issues, Unfortunately, who knows, what really happens to our brain & CNS, long after.
          I wish you success & happiness.
          We are all sick of our beds, with wasted years.
          Sick of trying to keep trying, each & every day.
          Tired of trying to show, that we are Right & the Medics are Wrong.
          Left Exhausted, as others do not believe we could be like this.

    • Lisbet 11/03/2018 at 4:32 am #

      Totally agree, Fiona. Real, honest, informed consent is needed. Real research is needed on people like you and me who have been seriously harmed. Real research is needed on the long-term effect on the nervous system of these drugs. Prescribing protocols need examining. Politicians need accept and act for those in real, desperate suffering. Corruption and lies need to be continually exposed in the case of “experts” and pharmaceutical companies.

      • Stephen 11/03/2018 at 11:29 am #

        I am only still alive, through a very good, but strict, loving upbringing, good values, respect & love for others.
        Over 28 years of Medical Mistreatment & Mis Management, with horendous long term implications, of Polly drugging. 1990, should have been enough evidence, as I was telephoning Doctors, with Massive Mental & Physical distress states, together with vomitting twice a day. The Toxic damages were rife. The letters, that I copied, all 4 of them, handed to give Psychiatrist, plainly shows a total ignorance, that these prescribed meds had devestated my Brain & CNS. No matter how much I tried to get appropriate help. There was NONE. To have lived & struggled against all opposition, ridicules & Major Hell, from the medical establishments, is tantamount to ABUSE.
        Not many can tolerate weeks of this torture, let alone a life time LOST, due to such Criminality. I have witnessed many friends, that have passed away, from this Manufactured Disease Making Industry. I see the TV Programmes, each day, where patients, keep going back to their surgeries, complaining of being much worse & still being in either a highly volatile state, or so depressed & cannot cope, in any way, shape or form. Do NOT trust your Doctor. They really are the Gate Keepers to Hell. This is FACT. They have the Ultimate Power to Destroy, then Desolve their patients, with their shocking ill informed (Drugs Reps / Big Pharma). That have with held Vital & Dangerous Health adversities, through the Powerful Consequences of their medications. They DISABLE the Brain. That’s what they are DESIGNED to do. The Medics never blame their tools. The Meds are NOT fit for use. There are other ways, to deal with so many peoples Mental issues. When something goes from minor to MAJOR, by prescribing & long term Ingestions, then it should & MUST be REALISED, that the sufferer has reached TOLERANCE, become very ill & more disabled, through Neuro Chemical & CNS Injuries & helped to get off & have a chance of recovery, before it gets out of control & destroys further. Thus ripping apart friends, families, neighbours. Please get this Put Right & STOP withholding VITAL Information, that will save lives.

  28. Marion Brown 02/03/2018 at 3:31 pm #

    On the webpage of our Public Petition in Scotland, currently under consideration by the Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committe, you will find a very substantial (and growing) collection of truly harrowing accounts of the experiences that individuals have suffered due to antidepressants – and the further medicating of the effects of antidepressants. The thread running through all of the individual accounts is that patients have niot been believed by the doctors. We have made Wendy Burn directly aware of this Petition.

    A member of her RCPsych attendind the Petitions Committee Meeting on 18 January 2018. He was aware of the (now removed) RCPsych ‘Coming off Antidepressants’ leaflet and specifically referred to it:

    • Rona Mackay: (for Committee)
    Do we have statistics on the number of people suffering withdrawal from antidepressants or prescription drugs?
    • Dr Mitchell:
    We do not have a unified number that describes that. The Royal College of Psychiatrists did some research into discontinuation reaction to antidepressants, which it published on its website. I can find those numbers for you.
    I think that the experience of discontinuation reactions from antidepressants is quite common: they are pretty much effects of every antidepressant from every class. However, in general, the actual discontinuation reactions—the symptoms—are mild and self-limiting.
    We cannot really define how severe or challenging the issue is, but—as I say—the Royal College of Psychiatrists has information from a survey and we are perfectly happy to accept that. These are real symptoms that people are having.
    For antidepressants, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says that tapering should take place over four weeks in order to allow the body to adjust to those medicines.

    When asked (repeatedly) if he accepted the premise of the Petition, he eventually said:
    • Dr Mitchell:
    Yes. I recognise and accept the descriptions that people have given of the problems that they have had with prescribed medicine, although those descriptions do not represent the normal or average experience. They are situations that people have chosen to tell us about.

    The full record of evidence for the Petition – to date – can be accessed here:

    • Fiona French 02/03/2018 at 3:49 pm #

      How many years have antidepressants been on the market? And all we have is one survey of patients conducted by RCPsych and two research papers from 2006 & 2007 (Prof David Baldwin) based on short term studies of patients. Why would this be? Particularly when withdrawal symptoms were evident in the original drug company clinical trials.

      • Stephen 02/03/2018 at 6:18 pm #

        Brain Damaged Masses, attributed by Powerful High Paid Pharmaceutical Companies.
        Enough – is – ENOUGH.
        IGNORANT & ABHORENT Behaviours.
        STOP People, from ever ingesting any of these Evil Meds.
        ENOUGH has been SAID.
        They may all have the Power to abuse.
        But We have POWERS to Advertise & INFORM the Masses.
        Many Doctors & their families, have been damaged also.
        We are NOT failures. We are NOT dishonest. We are a Growing Team,
        of supports & Networks.
        That tells it, EXACTLY how it is.
        Whilst we remain Incapacitated, in numerous ways.
        We can still keep campaigning.
        The Pen, is Mightier than the Sword.
        You would not want either stuck in your Heads ?
        Like we have Major Nuero-Chemical Holes, in ours.
        I am being polite here.
        Confident of our Justice.
        Hopeful of our Valuable & Worthy Work.
        Stronger, In Mind, by this heinous crime, of Manslaughter, by Chemical degeneration.
        Constructing New ways, with which to cope & deal, with such enormity of evil.
        As I continue to struggle on & fall.
        I make myself a better person, for being able to stay off all meds.
        Will Never trust any Doctor.
        They have FAILED myself & many, with so many wrong doings.
        We Stand together & raise more Awareness,
        Peaceful, as we are.
        As damaged, beyond others comprehensions.
        In a serious & highly painful existence.
        POWER to the People.
        May Peace, Good Will & Harmony Prevail.
        If anyone cannot be Truthful & Assist us.
        Then our lives, are used to PROCURE Great Wealths, for Evil Purposes.

    • Hannah Walker 02/03/2018 at 5:22 pm #

      Just when I thought I’d formulated a calm, dignified and measured comment, I read this statement from your visitor from the RCPsych:

      “However, in general, the actual discontinuation reactions—the symptoms—are mild and self-limiting.”

      That statement actually made me shout out loud. I’m afraid I can’t write down what I shouted, as the words are unprintable. WHERE HAVE THESE DOCTORS BEEN ALL THEIR WORKING – AND PRESCRIBING – LIVES?? The fact that this man can say something as blatantly, plainly WRONG takes my breath away. More later. When I’ve recovered.

      • Stephen Bailey 02/03/2018 at 10:16 pm #

        Oh dear. I still find myself shouting & screaming all sorts of flips flops drats & b’s. it’s constant trauma. No one could possibly ever feel, the terrible inner sickness and tumultuous torments, I & many have. I’ve punched holes in doors, fences, walls & kicked and smashed through glass windows. My home, will probably very soon fall down, with all the constant amounts of trauma thrown at it. It’s like having a ticking time bomb insides me. No one better tell me to ‘get a grip’ because I do. Then it rears it’s ugly head again. Often when I start. I don’t stop for ages. The whole neighborhood hear me. It’s utter distress, at having to live in a permanent torture chamber. My father told me, the very first pill, I was like a man possessed. He had to grab me, take me to the first field & let me continue. Seriously deep, inner disturbance. I get better, sometimes, then as soon as I start doing something, for a while. It dam well starts again. It’s a safety pressure release valve. But it’s not safe. Curse of the chemicals. Was never meant for me. What was at first a straight forward issue. Turned nasty for all to see. That’s what meds do to us. Then medics say. What’s all the fuss. Believe me, there is no reasoning. After 22 years, still feel very fragile. A highly complicated mess. The big issue, often tiny stress. That rocks the boat. So do not poke. I just want to live & be free.

    • Jennifer 04/03/2018 at 6:04 pm #

      It’s great work you’re doing Marion – so important and incredibly relevant. It’s definitely time for open, honest, non-confrontational, time-sensitive (because people continue to suffer) conversations about anti-depressants and who’s really benefiting from their continued wide-spread use. Conversations where medics, pharma and patients alike are open to listening, responding and changing. And persisting as a community until we have a clearer, healthier mental and emotional health response; one that prioritises fast, effective and measured solutions (with transparent, shared-to-all data) for depressions, anxiety, panic attacks and trauma.

    • Lisbet 11/03/2018 at 6:38 am #

      • Dr Mitchell:
      Yes. I recognise and accept the descriptions that people have given of the problems that they have had with prescribed medicine, although those descriptions do not represent the normal or average experience. They are situations that people have chosen to tell us about.

      Me: what on earth are you talking about – you don’t even know what the “normal” or “average” experience is, there is no scientific evidence to back up your statement. And so, it’s ok that thousands are suffering agonies, or killing themselves, is it?

  29. Gwen Olsen 02/03/2018 at 6:52 pm #

    As a former, tenured pharmaceutical rep who has devoted the past twelve years of my life to exposing the risks involved with antidepressant drug use, I find Drs. Burn and Baldwin’s statement “We know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment” to be both inaccurate and irresponsible. Quite frankly, I am appalled at the dismissive nature of this comment on behalf of the thousands of patients with iatrogenic drug damage from antidepressant therapy that have contacted me over the years. A large number of patients suffer with chronic anxiety, sleep disorder, and ill effects to multiple body systems after they stop taking antidepressants, especially if they cold-turkey, or taper too rapidly. Additionally, the doctors have not qualified this comment with length of use, quantity of dose, or concommitant use of other pharmaceuticals in combination with antidepressants, which all further complicate discontinuation of therapy, and the patient’s ability to return to homeostasis. One would think that professionals with their credentials would be held to a higher standard of reporting and would not stoop to this level of disinformation to endorse dangerous drugs in this manner. Where is the clinical research evidence that substantiates their claim? And, I don’t mean package insert or marketing information from the manufacturers that have cherry-picked the patient population for their studies submitted to the FDA. Personally, I want to see it–if, indeed, it even exists!

  30. Lyn 03/03/2018 at 12:25 am #

    Thank you so much everyone for this important letter. I am nearly 6 years out from a self-directed taper (no doctor’s help) of an benzodiazepine and 7 years from an antidepressant and I continue to suffer every single day from unbearable symptoms, indicative of a damaged CNS. It is irresponsible, appalling and shameful that governing bodies of Psychopharmacology and Psychiatry are purposefully misleading the public in order to protect themselves and pharmaceutical companies. I will never trust a doctor again.

    • Sandra Villarreal 09/03/2018 at 1:36 am #

      Lyn, during & after my cold-turkey Klonopin withdrawal I suffered symptoms so horrible & bizarre I couldn’t even put them into words. It was pure mental torture. But I came across this anonymous letter I cried every time I read it. It was asking me to become friends with a brain that became the enemy, that I came to hate viciously for making me suffer endlessly. But, it provided me something none of my mental healthcare workers at the time gave me – and that was HOPE. I pray it may give you some too.

      Dear Friend,
      Every day I you telling me to leave. You refer to me as a “nightmare” and say I am putting you through hell. You wonder why I came and why I appear not to want to go. Well, I am writing to let you know that despite how it seems, I AM your friend AND have no choice. I MUST do what I am doing.

      Believe me, I hate that you have to experience this trauma and I wish there was some other way for me to make you better. But there isn’t. This is the only way. I need you to understand this. There are times when the imbalances are easily fixed and I can quickly leave. But in some cases the reversible damage is too much for me to resolve within a few weeks or months and this is when I need more time.

      So please be patient with me. My job is complex. Imagine a mechanic tinkering with a car’s engine. Sometimes he thinks the work is complete and does a test drive only to find more problems. It can be like that for me and when this happens, I have to pull you apart again and try something different. You call this a ‘wave’ or a ‘setback’ but what it means is that the most profound healing is taking place.

      I know it is distressing for you and I want you to know I WILL get it right. I always do, in the end. But I need you to trust me and not see me as the bad guy. It is only MY process that will make you better. Everything I put you through is worth it. And when I finally leave and you’re healthy again and able to fully engage in life, you will agree with me.

      In the meantime, when things are intense, remember that it is me working hard on your recovery. I don’t mean to hurt you. Please don’t struggle against me or resent me. The minute your nervous system is healed and functioning well again, I will go. Know that I care very much about what happens to you and am always working hard, monitoring you, and cheering you on…straight to the finishing line.

      Sincerely, Withdrawal

  31. Alyne Duthie 03/03/2018 at 10:50 am #

    We are not few in number but you would think our experiences counted for nothing if the reaction from most of psychiatry is anything to go by. To think I actually respected this profession and saw it as the ultimate in caring for the most vulnerable. When psychiatry constantly questions the validity of the iatrogenically harmed you have to in turn question the motivation for this lack of concern. It cannot be any coincidence that psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry continue to have a prolific and incestuous relationship that places patients very far down the list of priorities. We are simply collateral damage in the drive to have more of us consuming neurotoxic medications that reduce our longevity. I simply cannot let go of the fact that I lost over 30 years of ill health to antidepressants nor can I be indifferent to the fact that I almost lost my life to Effexor withdrawal. I would like to understand why akathisia isn’t more readily accepeted as a serious risk in SSRI/SNRI withdrawal and more done to inform patients of the risk when they start treatment as well as when they adjust dose. The suffering is immense and it most assuredly does go on for years and to add to our injury the usual response is to prescribe more drugs trapping many of us in polypharmacy. The forums are full of people on multiple drugs as I was myself at one stage – benzos, antipsychotics, sleeping tablets, anticonvulsants used off-label to treat anxiety. This scale of harm has to stop. Our politicians, the press, and the medical profession must face up to this huge medical disaster otherwise the number of victims will continue to increase. Like others I feel betrayed and my sense of injustice isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.

  32. Pavel 03/03/2018 at 11:24 am #

    Thanks for the letter. I`m glad that you stood up for all people harmed by antidepressants. As someone already mentioned they behavior as like denying the Holocaust, it`s a crime agains humanity.
    I`ve already lost three years because of these horrible drugs, two years in withdrawal syndrome but fortunatelly getting better very slowly. Hopefully to get rid of Mirtazapine by the end of this year.
    Best regards from the Czech Republic.

    • Katka 17/05/2018 at 12:22 pm #

      Pavel, I thought there is only me in the Czech Republic suffering from WD. All specialiats deny symptoms of wd and I was really lost for a long time. Now I know what happens with me and don ´t want to close my eyes in the future. Thank all people involved in this process of telling the truth.

  33. Stephen 04/03/2018 at 7:39 pm #

    This is what these Psych Meds DO !
    Not my comments, but from another Reliable Source:-

    There is a world, that most people do not know about. It is a hidden world, known only to those who are currently trapped in it, or who were once its temporary occupants, who somehow managed to escape with their lives and health.

    It is populated by individuals, one might meet on any day and in any place – at work, at home, on the street, in the supermarket, at a party, in church, on an airplane, anywhere. Usually, these people appear to be living and functioning in the same manner and with the same ease as any other person. There is nothing outwardly remarkable about them that would give anyone the slightest hint of the absolute horror residing inside each of them.

    This is a world of suffering, so horrifyingly bizarre, that it defies a description, sufficient for anyone else to grasp. In fact, if one has not experienced this suffering, he or she, will usually find it impossible to believe and will question the sanity of the sufferer. It is a world of torture, in which the sufferer resides, ‘moment-by-moment’, but which also resides inside the sufferer.
    It is inescapable. It is infinitely pervasive. It yields to nothing – no thought, no force, no trick, no drug, no tactic or strategy. Nothing.

    It is immovable. It just “is,” and it rarely relents, or gives a breath of air to its victim. The fear that it wields and bludgeons its victim with, ‘is pure and wholly irrational. It is a snail’s-pace, seemingly eternal walk through hell on earth’.

    Detoxing from these meds, can be hell. While the victims of psych meds withdrawal, suffer beyond description, friends and loved ones who witness the anguish and who also care for the victim, suffer in multiple ways as well. The victim often appears to be quite capable of functioning normally like anyone else, at least from the outside. When the victim insists, that he, or she is unable to accomplish, or even attempt to accomplish the smallest task, it can be extremely frustrating to caregivers.

    This is especially true, when the victim complains incessantly and continually describes his or her often unbelievable symptoms of withdrawal. The sufferer, is nearly always in a state of extreme irrational fear and enshrouded by a fog of bleak, grey hopelessness. This is beyond perplexing to caregivers, when they see nothing to be frightened of and everything to be hopeful for. There is also the matter of “rage” that caregivers must deal with. It is demoralizing and can wear down even the strongest and most compassionate of caregivers.

    I Rest my CASE Folks. There we have it. Steve (Sunday 4th March 2018).

    • Christiane Martin 30/01/2019 at 9:47 am #

      Dear all, What is the best way to discontinue?

    • Maimed78 30/03/2019 at 12:52 am #

      We’ll put Stephen I wrote a similar thing not as good as your description my English isn’t the greatest what you said is so true I relate with everything you said a lay person couldn’t comprehend the suffering.we go through I couldn’t belived it existed I can honestly say that I’d off happily off lost my legs than suffered this constantly for years I told my partner this once she didn’t believe me but I’m serious if someone said we’re chop your legs off or suffer torturous symptoms without let up for years id would off said take my legs.

  34. Jan Waterton 06/03/2018 at 9:26 pm #

    Thank you for such a brilliant letter of response to such a crazy statement. I really hope more people take there cases to solicitors as well, because that is another way these useless prescribers might sit up and take note of the damage these drugs can do to our bodies and minds. I was one of the lucky ones and won my case in 2016 for gross clinical negligence when I was left on Benzodiazipines for 17 years to control chronic pain following 2 failed hip operations despite showing classic signs of addiction and given no help whatsoever to withdrawal. I was also prescribed months of anti depressants to deal with the side affects of Clonazepam. To have been sent for help to a street drug addiction centre was the most degrading experience ever, but they couldn’t help anyway. It would I feel , be so good if these so called experts could meet us, so that they could hear directly the damage these drugs can do, because having been off all medication now for 7 years I am left with permanent damage, electric shocks, nerve problems, but life is certainly so so much better off them.My solicitors name was Oliver Thorne of Slee Blackwell Barnstaple,

  35. Sandra Villarreal 09/03/2018 at 12:51 am #

    Thank you so much Dr. John Read and everyone listed on your behalf. You are our voice after we’ve silenced by our Mental Health care facilities. If SSRI withdrawal symptoms are not supposed to last more than two-weeks why then did my Effexor induced homicidal rage last for 5 excruciating months when I came off it? It was nothing short of pure mental torture just as my c/t Klonopin withdrawal the previous year that I almost didn’t live through. I had to put myself into yet another God-for-saken psychiatric hospital so I wouldn’t kill anyone where I was FORCED yet more drugs after begging them to treat me without using them. I had to fight tooth and nail to get out and when I did I came home on my ‘court ordered’ drugs and had to withdraw all over again. And while withdrawing one more time my house burns down leaving me homeless for months. And do you think any body in the mental health field or psychiatrist cared one bit about my demise? Not a bit. They could care less.

  36. Peter Charlton 12/04/2018 at 10:46 am #

    Can we have a similar letter regarding the beta blocker Bisoprolol please?

  37. Sandy Terell 26/06/2018 at 12:14 am #

    I have been helped by antidepressants. I am suicidal without them. I have minimal side effects. I have been on (and tolerated with the exception of weight gain and nausea): fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine, duloxetine, topiramate, zonisamide, lithium carbonate, aripiprazole. You all may have some cytochrome cyp allele genetic mutations (ex Do they check that in UK? It can lead to severe side effects at normal doses.
    Do you really believe that psychiatrists are a bunch of sadists who want to torture you? When you come to a psychopharmacologist with a symptom that is bothering you, they are going to suggest a medication that has a likelihood of benefit without significant risk of harm.

    • Fiona French 09/10/2018 at 5:35 pm #

      I don’t think that everyone who has difficulties with these drugs has a genetic mutation as some antidepressants seem to be worse than others for withdrawal symptoms, effexor for example seems to cause immense problems. I don’t think any of us believe that psychiatrists have set out to torture us. Of course these drugs are prescribed more frequently by GPs than psychiatrists. The problem is that doctors do not recognise the withdrawal symptoms, they mis-diagnose them as relapse, increase the dose or add another drug. Patients are not advised about the immense difficulties of withdrawal because doctors do not believe there will be significant problems.

  38. Stephen Bailey 14/10/2018 at 12:57 pm #

    ACTUAL Prescription Medication Madness, causes Toxic Reactions, followed by Polly drugging, that kills. All Psych Meds are (DESIGNED). Please Understand this – They are DESIGNED to DISABLE the BRAIN & will eventually attribute to Profound Mental, Physical, Emotional & Spiritual Issues. To which I am Fully Aware of, by having suffered at the hands of Psychiatry, which only Masks up Symptoms, attributes myriads more issues. This Disables The person taking them, Destroys & Renders them useless. So they can no longer cope, deal, or act properly, as their Brains & Nervous Systems become so badly Damaged & life becomes UNBEARABLE. It is a Daily LIVING HELL. These meds are Highly Addicting, Toxic & should Never be used, especially NEVER long term. This is WHY more people are having suicidal ideations, are harming themselves, violence increasing, not able to work, a life of utter torture & dread, because all one can do is stay in bed. “It is a Terrible Manufactured Disease, that is Criminally Perpetrated by Big Pharma”.

  39. Honor 06/04/2019 at 4:37 pm #

    Thank you all for speaking up, there are plenty of videos of people suffering adverse side effects from these drugs, akathisia and seratonin syndrome. Surviving Antidepressants website, and support groups that know better. People still suffer cognitive problems and brain damage year later. After withdrawal, going cold turkey or having serious adverse side affects to these drugs they suffer for months and years.

    I am on of them that started having adverse reactions to escitalopram last year and got worse and worse. I kept going to doctors and no body knew what was wrong with me. Until i found out it was the drug online. It said you should stop taking it if you are experiencing this symptoms, which i did right Away. They went away but within 2 weeks the withdrawals kicked in it was hell and torture i was losing my mind and had akathisia. When going to the doctor for help i was given another antidepressants. After the first doses i was far worse and cut it in half. With no advice or help i now know i did not wheen myself off properly and stopped taking them after 2-3 months. I am still suffering have cognitive problems the list goes on and on. Its been 5 months now and im far from fine. Might been brain damaged and have problems for life.


  40. Honor 06/11/2019 at 10:06 am #

    I am in the same boat as this man in the USA, Link to the article below and test he finally got to prove the SSRI have caused brain damage. Chemically induced TBI
    The test are attached. I was not on the drugs as long as he was. I took an SSRI in 2013 for a year and a half. Stopped without tapering off. Had no problems side effects or withdrawals then. Started taking Escitalopram again in June 2017 with in 3 months the first adverse side effects started and continued to get worse i ended up getting all the serve adverse or rare side effects and kept going to the doctors.

    No one realised it was due to the medication, by the time I did it was to late the damage had been done by June 2018. I stopped immediately and went into terrible withdrawals psychology torture for someone suffering from PTSD already. I was but back on another SSRI Citalopram 10mg. Got worse after the first day so tapered off them within a month. Its been a year now and i am declining after trying everything to repair and help the brain. My physical health has declined. My executive functions are declining badly all signs of a TBI. Hoping to get these tests done now. I will need care soon as im battling to manage daily tasks. My cognitive decline is frightening. Please read the article below you will understand like i have now why im in this state.

  41. Kristina 26/01/2020 at 4:33 pm #

    I challenge any psychiatrist who believes that withdrawal effects stop after two weeks to take 120 mg of Cymbalta for two years and then taper off over a month. I did that and had six months of severe joint and muscle pain, brain zaps, lost all my filters, and couldn’t control the words that came out of my mouth. I’m normally a quiet, agreeable introvert, and withdrawal turned me into a harpy during those months. EIGHT YEARS later, I’m still dealing with debilitating gastrointestinal issues that my doctor believes were caused by neurological damage from Cymbalta withdrawal.


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