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Antidepressants And The Problem Of Withdrawal48:21
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In this Jan. 25, 2006 file photo, a production technician at Eli Lilly and Company, examines Cymbalta 60mg pills in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)MoreCloseclosemore
In this Jan. 25, 2006 file photo, a production technician at Eli Lilly and Company, examines Cymbalta 60mg pills in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

With Emily Dreyfuss

About 15.5 million Americans have been taking antidepressants for at least five years. So, what happens if they stop?

This show airs Tuesday at 11 a.m. EST.

Guests:

Benedict Carey, science reporter for the New York Times. (@bencareynyt)

Dr. Eliza Menninger, psychiatrist and medical director of the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Dr. Ronald Pies, psychiatrist and ethicist at Tufts University School of Medicine and SUNY Upstate Medical University who wrote a letter to the editor disputing some assertions made in the New York Times article.

From The Reading List:

New York Times: Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit — "The drugs have helped millions of people ease depression and anxiety, and are widely regarded as milestones in psychiatric treatment. Many, perhaps most, people stop the medications without significant trouble. But the rise in longtime use is also the result of an unanticipated and growing problem: Many who try to quit say they cannot because of withdrawal symptoms they were never warned about."

New York Times letters to the editor: Withdrawing From Antidepressants — "The article rightly observes that some patients taking antidepressants for long periods will experience serious problems when the medication is discontinued. But based on my experience over 25 years of treating depressed patients, fewer than 10 percent will experience severe withdrawal symptoms when the antidepressant dose is tapered over three to six months."

Do you take antidepressants for depression or anxiety? If so, you’re not alone--nearly 25 million Americans live on these medications. But antidepressants were never meant to be taken long term, and now the news some people who want off the drugs are going into withdrawal: Headaches, exhaustion, dizziness, confusion.
And it’s all raising questions about how long people should be taking these meds in the first place.

This hour, On Point: a reality check on quitting antidepressants.

--Emily Dreyfuss

This program aired on April 10, 2018.

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