Don’t blame Brexit: doubling of antidepressant prescriptions in fact reflects longer-term use

The news that 70.9 million antidepressant prescriptions were dispensed in England last year – almost double the figure in 2008 – is an admission of failure.

Some medical and mental health organisations have speculated that this rise reflects increased awareness of mental health problems and greater willingness to seek help, and others have even blamed Brexit. Others have implied that our collective reliance on psychotropic drugs is benign, or even welcome, reflecting greater access to medical support. 

Such comments are speculative at best.

The research clearly shows that the rise in antidepressant prescribing is in fact primarily the consequence of more people taking the drugs for longer, with prescriptions per patient doubling over the past ten years. This is partly due to the underestimation of the incidence, severity and duration of adverse reactions to antidepressant withdrawal. Many withdrawal reactions are being misdiagnosed as relapse (with drugs being reinstated as a consequence) or as failure to respond to treatment (with either new drugs being prescribed or dosages increased). But it is also because many people find themselves dependent on these drugs, and are unable to come off without debilitating symptoms, leading to long-term use.

We also know that rates of antidepressant prescription are highest in socially deprived areas, strongly suggesting that people are being given antidepressants for social problems.  This is particularly worrying, because antidepressants, for most people, work no better than placebos, and long-term antidepressant use is associated with increased severe side-effects, increased risk of weight gain, the impairment of patients’ autonomy and resilience (increasing their dependence on medical help), worsening outcomes for some patients, greater relapse rates, increased mortality and the development of neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia.

Research shows that most people consulting a GP for help do not want antidepressants, but some kind of psychological or social support. In the absence of alternatives, prescriptions fill the gap. Pressure on NHS services, short GP appointments (which allow little time for exploration of people’s difficulties and the discussion of solutions), shortages of psychological therapies and cuts to local authority budgets (restricting the availability of social and community services) all mean that inappropriate medical solutions are more likely to be used.

We therefore call for:

  • Urgent revision of clinical guidelines, especially NICE guidelines, to take account of research showing withdrawal is more common, long-lasting and severe than previously indicated
  • A focus on alternatives to antidepressant medication, including social prescribing and greater investment in social and psychological alternatives
  • Changes to doctor training and medical syllabi, including greater awareness of the severity and duration of antidepressant withdrawal reactions
  • Support for people wishing to withdraw from antidepressants, including a national telephone helpline and website, and dedicated withdrawal support services
  • Research into long-term outcomes and harms of antidepressant use 

17 Responses to Don’t blame Brexit: doubling of antidepressant prescriptions in fact reflects longer-term use

  1. kiwi 29/03/2019 at 8:38 am #

    imo ….This is TOTALLY due to the unimaginable horror and trauma inducing symptoms of abstinence that is … withdrawal.
    No one can get off these drugs without a serious fight for their life.
    As my pharmacist once confided in me …you deserve a medal for getting of paxil we have many people on our books taking this drug and they cant get off it.

    Its a miracle i am still alive after the many years i had to hold on for before i made it to the other side.

    oh yeah lets not forget the behind the scenes pharma prescribing kickbacks to doctors …that would no doubt cause an uptick in ssri addicts!

  2. kiwi 29/03/2019 at 9:03 am #

    “70.9 million antidepressant prescriptions were dispensed in England last year”

    !!!!!!

    Make no mistake about it this is a mindblowing number that talks of the number seriously harmed by doctors.
    Its time for the medical profession to admit to their shameful disgraceful ignorance and set up withdrawal clinics immediately worldwide.

    Its time for well paid so called experts to stop burying risks and harms.

  3. Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD 29/03/2019 at 9:43 am #

    Information and communication technology (ICT) may be very helpful in researching psychiatric medication withdrawal morbidity and mortality which I suspect is a far bigger problem than even the very excellent and scientifically conservative CEP research finds it to be. For some ideas about this opportunity please feel free to read my 10/4/18 Frontiers IT Research Project comment (which is set in the context of two real-life current-events public health policy examples and) available for free at the following URL address:

    https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/8765/designing-technologies-for-youth-mental-health#comments

    Sincerely and In Biblical Love for All Psychiatric Medication Patients and Their Physicians Everywhere,

    Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD
    Christian Minister for Biblical Medical Ethics,
    and therefore,
    Religious and Scientific Refugee from the Clinical Practice of Psychiatric Standards of Care
    P.O. Box 24211
    Louisville, KY 40224
    March 29, 2019

    • Rosemary Knowles 29/03/2019 at 12:34 pm #

      Thank God for cepuk.org. Who else can be relied on to challenge the lies and deceit of the Psychiatry clique – hardly a profession! Certainly the BBC cannot be relied on to challenge Wendy Burn and the Royal College of Psychiatry, and get them to admit that antidepressants do more harm than good as has been proved. James Davies et al should be pressing for the BBC to make another programme exposing these harms now that the APPG Review has come to an end, and promoting their suggestions above widely on all channels till this subject takes over from BREXIT as being the most vitally important issue of our time.

      • Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD 29/03/2019 at 2:04 pm #

        Dear Ms. Knowles:

        I have reviewed your CEP responses and I am praying for your son and your entire family. Yes, psychiatric iatrogenesis must be stopped.

        Sincerely and In Biblical Love for You and Your Entire Family,

        Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD
        Christian Minister for Biblical Medical Ethics,
        and therefore,
        Religious and Scientific Refugee from the Clinical Practice of Psychiatric Standards of Care
        P.O. Box 24211
        Louisville, KY 40224
        March 29, 2019

        • Rosemary Knowles 29/03/2019 at 5:19 pm #

          Thanks – my son and I frequently discuss poor JOB, and what kind of a God He must be to test his servant so cruelly! – but the responsibility for this current misery is definitely not with God, but with Mammon. If we stop buying these drugs, and impoverish the Big Pharma companies that manufacture them and promote them heavily, and then force our Health Systems to pay out massive compensation to all who are harmed, we might get a result. It is clearly obvious that modern day psychiatry is to blame, – is seriously guilty for causing the harms, suffering, destruction and death by their little poison-pills out of greed. Re-education of the medical profession is urgent. Can we get back to the Hippocratic Oath – “First do no harm?”

          • Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD 29/03/2019 at 7:16 pm #

            Dear Ms. Knowles:

            You have asked two of the most important questions in human life: what is the meaning of human suffering in relation to God and can we really achieve a first-do-no-harm walk in life? These questions are central to medical ethics as well as all matters of human life. Please feel free to use my above link and read my brief epistemological axioms and sufficient soteriology at the end of my two public comments. From this information I bet you and your husband and son (and other family members) can answer these questions yourselves and possibly, Lord willing, even better than most physicians. I will be away from my computer until this coming Wednesday or Thursday but when I return, I will be willing to answer questions you might have about your very important journey through these most important questions of life.

            Sincerely and In Biblical Love for You and Your Entire Family,

            Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD
            Christian Minister for Biblical Medical Ethics,
            and therefore,
            Religious and Scientific Refugee from the Clinical Practice of Psychiatric Standards of Care
            P.O. Box 24211
            Louisville, KY 40224
            March 29, 2019

          • Rosemary Knowles 30/03/2019 at 9:14 am #

            Thanks again Minister Roth, but this thread is not about me nor you; it is about the proliferation of antidepressants, which rests on the Chemical Imbalance in the Brain Theory of modern psychiatry. We need to kill that myth, and today the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 mentioned that the Royal College of Psychiatry was looking into Digital Technology and Social Media and their contribution to childhood mental illnesses. They want to ask how much exposure each child has to disturbing sites. That is HUGE. At last, they are looking outwards to the dangers within our society which contribute to the stress and illnesses of patients – not assuming that the answers lie in their ludicrous DSM questions – (as so lucidly set out in James’s book – CRACKED.) BREXIT has uncovered the sickness in our society – but also how democratic a nation we are. We can therefore all play our part in bringing about change if we speak up.

  4. kiwi 01/04/2019 at 7:14 am #

    “the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 mentioned that the Royal College of Psychiatry was looking into Digital Technology and Social Media and their contribution to childhood mental illnesses. They want to ask how much exposure each child has to disturbing sites. That is HUGE. At last, they are looking outwards to the dangers within our society which contribute to the stress and illnesses of patients ”

    Rosemary i dont know so much.

    I find this rather scary actually as it appears they may be looking for any additional reasons to extend the drag net of druggary. And to dogde responsibility for their actions.

    They would be better served looking not outwards but inwards at themselves and the damage they have done to …millions.

  5. kiwi 01/04/2019 at 7:38 am #

    I have a question for T S Roth.
    Thomas there are studies done (i cant quote it from memory but im sure you will perhaps know of it) which have shown that a person who is of faith has a greater protection against suicide than one who is not of faith.

    Why is it that such studies are buried. They are never talked about or mentioned by the medical profession.

    Why is it that doctors do not ask patients presenting of distress ‘if they are of faith’ ? In light of such a strong protective link it should be a question if not the first question asked or explored by a doctor.

    This may be the case for normal psychological stresses to an undrugged brain.
    However ssri withdrawal is not a respector of its victims faith or no faith it is going to take a very strong person to survive full blown ssri withdrawal.

    I guess all im saying is that if doctors would only add to the checklist ‘is this person of faith’ if yes then dont prescribe. That would save many being harmed.

    Actually whether a person is of faith or not i believe these drugs shouldnt be prescribed for whatever reason. No good will come from exposure to them.

    • Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD 04/04/2019 at 10:23 am #

      Dear Kiwi:

      You have very beautifully answered most of your own above questions in your summary statement of “Actually whether a person is of faith or not I believe these drugs shouldn’t be prescribed for whatever reason.” The best-in-class expert witness references (including those of Dr. Peter Breggin, and Dr. Peter Gøtzsche, and Robert Whitaker, and to which I now would like to add The Sedated Society: The Causes and Harms of our Psychiatric Drug Epidemic edited by Dr. James Davies) as well as my own ethics teaching referenced in my above link all prove you are correct in this summary statement. It is very concerning that a very high percentage of physicians and civil government leaders (including legislators and public health officials) and ecclesiastical government leaders do not know what you know about these very important issues of human health. Their ignorance about these issues is causing huge amounts of iatrogenic psychiatric morbidity and mortality and disability. In further answering your above questions (in the context of my own experience of having been a psychiatrist who labeled and drugged people consistent with the psychiatric standards of care and who immediately repented of this when I became aware of both the physical and spiritual iatrogenesis of these standards of care and thus who now follows Jesus in a Biblical pastoral care and medical ethics ministry), yes Kiwi, there are huge clinical (as well as, of course, eternal) protective effects of good religious faith. Moreover, it is true that a significant percentage of physicians in their psychosocial history taking of and medical care for patients do not include religious and spiritual parameters. One major reason for this is that the various authorities who rule over contemporary medical training (as well as medical research and care) have increasingly decided (and/or have been increasingly pressured into the position) that the Laws of Nature of human neuropsychobiogenetic function (including human brain function) can be studied and be used clinically in isolation from the Laws of Nature’s God and the inseparable spiritual life of medical patients. This has left a huge and iatrogenically destructive void of good help for human cognitive and behavioral and emotional suffering and humiliation worldwide that Big Pharma has been more than happy to fill in with tens of billions of dollars per year (including in the U.S. over forty billion dollars per year) of iatrogenic psychiatric drugs. Yet God clearly has not intended this to be as proven in my brief epistemological axioms and sufficient soteriology in my above link. For God has made each and every human being in His own image and in such a way that every human being needs a personal intimate relationship with Jesus in their own individual life to be truly complete and healthy and happy and to overcome the evils of the world which could bring any mere human being (including the most mature born again Christian) into the deepest levels of cognitive and behavioral and emotional despair and humiliation. Thus, the well-known saying “There but for the grace of God, go I” is true concerning severe human cognitive and behavioral and emotional suffering and humiliation. Accordingly, the medical standards of care should be Biblically loving (including protecting) all people in such severe cognitive and behavioral and emotional suffering and humiliation rather than sinfully harmfully iatrogenically labeling and drugging them at such great financial gain. Thus again, Kiwi, you have very beautifully answered most of your own above questions in your summary statement of “Actually whether a person is of faith or not I believe these drugs shouldn’t be prescribed for whatever reason.” Amen!

      Sincerely and In Biblical Love for You and All People Everywhere,

      Thomas Steven Roth, MBA, MD
      Christian Minister for Biblical Medical Ethics,
      and therefore,
      Religious and Scientific Refugee from the Clinical Practice of Psychiatric Standards of Care
      P.O. Box 24211
      Louisville, KY 40224
      April 4, 2019

  6. Rosemary Knowles 01/04/2019 at 10:03 am #

    kiwi -“why is it that doctors do not ask patients ….if they are of faith”? In my neck of the woods the majority of doctors are of Asian origin, or have foreign-sounding names – and one cannot presume that they worship the same god or follow any.religion for that matter. Besides, how much personal ground can an 8 – 9 minute consultation cover? You are quite right about an ssri-drugged brain being too affected to respond to questions of religious faith. My son was so clever – and when he was given 24 hours notice to vacate his home because his wife lied that he was “dangerous” after she had locked him out of his house!!!! – he took with him 300+ books as a priority. No weapons! When he was hypomanic he was brilliant company and quoted Shakespeare and poetry when we drove together – but now he is not even logical. I guess it is the result of “spell-binding” effects of ADs as discussed by Moncrieff and Breggin. He cannot recall his achievements while hypomanic – he just dwells on all his losses, bereavements, his non-functioning brain. How does one withdraw from mental (psychiatric) abuse, emotional trauma and injustice and massive destruction from one’s former life? Is returning to the drugs the only way back – then tapering? Can any psychiatrist be trusted once one has been harmed?

  7. kiwi 06/04/2019 at 1:43 am #

    Thomas thankyou for taking the time to reply.
    I also would like to deeply and sincerely thankyou for this:
    “my own experience of having been a psychiatrist who labeled and drugged people consistent with the psychiatric standards of care and who immediately repented of this when I became aware of both the physical and spiritual iatrogenesis of these standards of care and thus who now follows Jesus in a Biblical pastoral care and medical ethics ministry”

    Thankyou for leaving the tribe of harm-ers and now (i assume you like Breggin (the number one on my heroes list) are now a nonprescriber) are a true healer.

    Your story has reminded me of those famous words by Socrates “an unexamined life is not worth living”.
    Thanks for taking ‘first do no harm’ seriously.

  8. kiwi 06/04/2019 at 1:50 am #

    Rosemary
    “He cannot recall his achievements while hypomanic – he just dwells on all his losses, bereavements, his non-functioning brain. How does one withdraw from mental (psychiatric) abuse, emotional trauma and injustice and massive destruction from one’s former life? Is returning to the drugs the only way back – then tapering? Can any psychiatrist be trusted once one has been harmed?”

    Rosemary im am sorry to read of your sons plight. It sounds like an iatrogenic horror story that is all too common these days. Hypomania is actually a withdrawal symptom. I have no idea where your son is at in the withdrawal project. But at a guess it sounds like he may have coldturkeyed or tapered far too fast. May i point you to a very helpful site called survivingantidepressants run by a most awesome human the Altostrata. The good folk on this site would be more than happy to walk in a supportive way with your son should he need a second opinion or help.

    • Rosemary Knowles 11/04/2019 at 9:27 pm #

      Thanks Kiwi – I have been on a 3-day break, absolutely essential to maintain my own sanity since my son finally lost his job – he feels his life is over. He almost certainly suffered Serotonin-syndrome from the combination of Sertraline and Amitryptiline, though this was covered up by his GP and only admitted when the lawyers on his wife’s side bullied her to divulge the information. Records were badly kept. She “weaned him” by changing him to Mirtazipine to “stabilise” him from the hypomania. He tapered over a few weeks and took his last pill in January 2017. Here we are in 2019 and he is still having such terrible panic attacks and constant pacing, that I consider phoning 111. He sees a psychologist now – usual hopeless ignoramus about psychoactive drugs and their withdrawal effects. I just sit and let him talk, reminisce, self-blame and despair and I help in practical ways – I suggest prayer but have not got very far with that. His family are there for him … and his sons still love him. It will be OK – lots of people are praying for him. Even on holiday I found that we are just one of the many harmed by this epidemic. I gave money to a woman collecting in the street in the cold – she and others had started a self-help support group as nothing else was available in affluent Wiltshire. Shocking!

  9. kiwi 19/04/2019 at 11:57 am #

    Hi Rosemary
    I can relate to what you write. My doctor compromised my medical records once i decided to file complaints. There is one very simple way to turn a doctor feral and that is to make a complaint.

    I would like to tell you that your son is very lucky to have someone like you for support. You are doing an excellent job. A listening nonjudgemental ear and reassuring calming presence that says ‘you are going to be ok, you will make it.’ Is all imo that is needed.
    It has taken me years for these typical symptoms to subside but they will in time get better you just have to ‘Hold on’. He can do it. In withdrawal the brain throws all sorts of crap at you and one must be very strong to survive it.

    I dont know how many years he was on these drugs for but it is well known that it only takes a month for dependancy to be established. There are many people out there who are having to taper for not weeks or months but years in order to minimise the withdrawal trauma.

    Even if it feels like you are a becoming a broken record keep assuring your son his life is not over.
    If you are in england have you filed a yellow card complaint (i think thats what its called in the u.k.) for iatrogenic harm…
    regards
    kiwi

    • Rosemary Knowles 26/04/2019 at 6:26 pm #

      Hi Kiwi, Yes, I am in England, yes I have filed a Yellow Card, – I am not always patient with my son; since he lost his job he has deteriorated understandably – we just press on with practicalities, hoping one day or year he will be independent again. Hey – I wrote to Wendy Burn, the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which I discovered was in Birmingham near me, so I accused her of being guilty of crimes against humanity through the “pushing” of these psychoactive drugs. Gave her my son’s story in precis – and told her not to ignore my letter or I would send copies to Parliament and media. My Parish Priest has even told me that if I wrote to the Pope he would listen!!!! I feel encouraged – but still feel a miracle is needed – so a parishioner took a petition to a shrine in Croatia. I shall keep up the prayers and hope for all fellow sufferers.
      Thanks for your support and encouragement. Rosemary

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