NATIONAL NEWS

Study highlights difficulty of stopping antidepressants

Sep 29, 2021, 6:03 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 4:48 pm
...

A study of British patients with a long history of depression highlights how difficult it can be to stop medication, even for those who feel well enough to try.

Slightly more than half the participants who gradually discontinued their antidepressants relapsed within a year. By contrast, the relapse rate was lower — almost 40% — for those who remained on their usual medication during the study.

Both groups had been taking daily doses of common antidepressants, had recovered from their most recent bout of depression and felt healthy enough to consider stopping the drugs.

Previous research has also shown relapse is common, and an editorial published with the study Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests medication for life may be advised for some patients with several previous bouts.

Counseling and behavior therapy are other options for patients who want to stop antidepressants, and studies show those treatments combined with medication work well for many.

Few of the British patients in the government-funded study were receiving any kind of psychological treatment. Though the United Kingdom’s national health system offers it, it is difficult to access because of long waiting times for treatment, said Gemma Lewis, the study’s lead author and a researcher at University College London. Patients in the study were being treated for depression by primary care doctors, which is common in the U.K., Lewis said.

Depression is a mood disorder that can include persistent, debilitating feelings of sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest in usual activities. It affects about 5% of adults worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Reported rates are slightly lower in the U.K. and higher in the U.S. but Lewis said differing ways that depression is assessed makes comparisons between countries difficult.

The study enrolled 478 patients in four cities in England, most of them middle-aged white women. All were taking a common class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which include drugs known by the brand names Prozac and Zoloft. Half were randomly assigned to gradually discontinue the drugs, the others made no medication changes . Whether similar results would be found in other patients taking other antidepressants isn’t known.

While 56% of the patients who discontinued their medication relapsed during the study, Lewis emphasized that a sizeable portion did not, including most who remained on their antidepressants.

“There are many people who would like to stay on their antidepressants and the paper shows that for many people that is an appropriate decision,’’ Lewis said.

Editorial author Dr. Jeffrey Jackson of Milwaukee’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center, called the study results important but disappointing. But he also suggested that discontinuing antidepressants is possible for some patients.

“I encourage patients with a single bout of depression, especially episodes that are triggered by a life event, such as loss of a loved one, to consider weaning antidepressant treatment after at least 6 months of remission,’’ Jackson wrote in the editorial.

___

Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FILE (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)...
ANNE D'INNOCENZIO and TOM MURPHY Associated Press

Walmart to cover fertility treatments under insurance plan

Walmart is teaming up with a fertility startup to offer benefits under its insurance plan that will help its workers expand their families.
12 hours ago
Residential single family homes construction by KB Home are shown under construction in the communi...
Anna Bahney, CNN Business

New home sales bounce back in August

New home sales bounced back in August despite high prices and rising mortgage rates that have pushed some buyers away.
12 hours ago
Cast members of NBC's comedy series "Friends." Pictured: David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Jennifer A...
KSL TV

Rolling Stone releases list of 100 greatest TV shows of all-time

A panel of actors, showrunners and critics helped compile the list, which was published Monday.
12 hours ago
In this NOAA handout image taken by the GOES satellite at 17:30 UTC shows Hurricane Ian as it moves...
CRISTIANA MESQUITA and CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press

Hurricane Ian makes landfall in Cuba en route to Florida

Hurricane Ian has made landfall in western Cuba, lashing the island with rain and winds as it barreled north toward the Florida coast.
12 hours ago
How to Beat Inflation...
CHRISTOPHER RUGABER, AP Economics Writer

Fed officials call for more rate hikes to fight inflation

The Federal Reserve will have to keep boosting its benchmark interest rate to a point that raises unemployment and gets inflation down from unusually high levels.
2 days ago
TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 26: Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) greets U.S. Vice President Ka...
CHRIS MEGERIAN and MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

In Tokyo, Harris calls US-Japan alliance ‘a cornerstone’

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has arrived in Tokyo to lead a U.S. delegation to the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Study highlights difficulty of stopping antidepressants