SSRI addiction is a myth

Up to two out of three people who come off modern anti-depressants suffer short-term withdrawal symptoms including dizziness, nausea and low mood. But it is impossible for anyone to become addicted to SSRIs, the Royal College of Psychiatrists heard yesterday.

"Worries about addiction have arisen because doctors mistake these withdrawal symptoms for continuing depression and put people back on antidepressants, instead of reassuring them that the symptoms will soon go,' Dr Peter Haddad, a psychiatrist at the Community Mental Health Centre in Manchester, told the College's annual conference. "Typically the symptoms stop immediately the drug is restarted which gives people the impression that they are addicted.

But Dr Haddad said that dependency in the sense of having a powerful urge to continue a drug, often for more gratification, does not happen with SSRIs. Antidepressants do not have street value. People do not forge prescriptions for fluoxetine. Nor do they register with multiple GPs, turn up at A&E departments to get more supplies or lie in bed craving an antidepressant,' he said. "As long as it is used widely, antidepressants have clear benefits, allowing people to get on with their lives.'

But he admitted there could be problems, perhaps explaining why thousands of people went on to websites to saying they were addicted to SSRIs. "I have seen people with apparently intractable withdrawal symptoms but I am always able to help them come off the drug eventually.' He said people needed reassurance that the symptoms were temporary. If necessary, the drug could be restarted and then doses could be reduced slowly.


  1. ben ben New Zealand says:

    This seems oddly familiar to the denial about benzo addiction.
    The comment that people do not forge prescriptions to get fluoxetine is emotive and irrelevant seeing as it is not uncommon in the USA to get 1 year prescriptions. Why bother forging prescriptions when SSRI,s are handed out like candy.

    Also the notion that people do not lie in bed craving an antidepressant is not true in my own experience. Withdrawing from venlafaxine i certainly craved the drug whilst withdrawing and relapsed numerous times.

    Registering with multiple GPs only makes sense when they seek to curtail your use of the drug. Which they dont, making it another invalid point.

    Turning up to the A&E department to get more supplies again makes no sense as long term prescriptions are readily available from your GP.

    Antidepressants do not have clear benefits either just ask Irving Kirsch, Peter Breggin, Robert Whitaker to name a few.
    It would have been nice to see some better reasoned arguments rather than emotive rhetoric.

  2. ben ben New Zealand says:

    6+8 = 0 chance of my post staying up. Censorship is the last bastion of Psychiatrists

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Glaucoma treatment using smart contact lenses that release drugs