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Report: Antidepressants use on rise and difficult to quit

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - The New York Times is reporting that that long-term use of antidepressants is on the rise in the United States.

The newspaper looked at new federal data and found that over 15 million Americans have been taking the medications for at least five years.

The data shows that since 2010, there has been a 60 percent increase in adults who have been on antidepressants for at least two years. One of the main reasons is that a lot of people who try to quit say they can’t because of withdrawal symptoms, according to the report.

The report notes that anti-depressants have helped millions of people and are widely regarded as "milestones in psychiatric treatment." Many stop the medications without significant trouble but others who try to quit are experiencing withdrawal symptoms they never knew about, according to the New York Times. 

Dr. Gary Gibson said those withdrawal symptoms can include dizziness, nausea, insomnia, and nervousness. He says this happens more when the medication is discontinued abruptly.

Gibson said the best solution is to do a slow tapering a patient off of the drugs. Typically, this happens over a two to four-week period.

Anti-depressants were first brought out in 1986 and were solely used to treat depression. Gibson says since them, the list of disorders treated with the drugs has grown.

“The approved indications include not only depression but panic disorder, certain anxiety disorders, post-menopausal depression such as perimenopausal symptoms sometimes and obsessive-compulsive disorders,” Gibson said.

Behavioral therapy and lifestyle modification are other ways to treat depression that may not include medication.

“What really should happen is a dialogue between the patient and the doctor because these drugs are prescribed drugs. I think if a patient goes to see the doctor, then that will allow them to discuss the withdrawal effects and strategy for tapering it,” Gibson said.

Gibson says the ideal time for staying on anti-depressants is six months or longer. If the treatment goes less than six months, the chance of relapse is a lot higher.


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