Antidepressant Withdrawal: What’s in a Name

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April 28, 2018 | 13 Comments


  1. What’s in a name?

    David Healy

    1 hr

    What’s in a name? Bupropion is an Antidepressant (Wellbutrin) in the US, though only a stop-smoking pill in UK. Patients trying to stop face different problems than with SSRIs.

    David Carmichael

    6 hrs

    In less than 10 minutes, this Know Your Drugs video presentation explains why it’s so important for people to be knowledgeable about any prescription drugs they consume. “Adverse drug reactions are a leading cause of death largely because pharmaceutical companies hide the truth about potentially deadly side effects.”

    Know your drugs .. know their names ..

  2. As I’ve said before, I’m no chemist … but bupropion appears to be part of the extended family of amphetamines and amphetamine-type drugs. Amphetamines were openly prescribed to relieve depression in the mid-twentieth century (and still are, though doctors don’t like to discuss it). They were also used as weight-loss pills, which helped to fuel a real epidemic of both recreational abuse, and medically-caused addiction.

    So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Wellbutrin has not only been used as a sort of step-down tool for people who find themselves addicted to Adderall. It’s also getting a reputation for “recreational abuse” in its own right. This article from the Canadian Medical Assn journal gives the basics:

    A joke making the rounds over here is that cocaine could become a big hit with millenials by re-branding it as “Adderall Xtreme.” As for the weight-loss market, bupropion has been re-packaged with a dash of naltrexone and approved as an “anti-obesity” pill called Contrave. Yep, those godawful diet pills that nearly killed your mom’s sorority sisters in college are now Evidence Based Medicine again!

    • “… though doctors don’t like to discuss it.” You might be surprised. See this astonishing article from Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2016, lead author editor-in-chief of that journal among other KOLs – see disclosures. “Stimulants for depression: On the up and up?” Mind-blowing for disconnect from simple humanity, awareness of history and the human condition, and bioneurotransmitter babble and chicanery – and curiously seems “full free online”:
      The continued clinical use of stimulants for the treatment of depression reflects in part the desperation that both clinicians and patients feel when faced with this illness, especially when conventional therapies fail or produce only a partial response. In practice, psychostimulants are inherently ‘satisfying’ to prescribe because patients experience almost immediate benefits (BECAUSE IT’S SPEED) and clinicians observe this clinical improvement in their patients. This is understandably gratifying for all those involved, and even though the effects are usually short-lived (BECAUSE IT’S SPEED) the positive responses reinforce the future use of psychostimulants (BECAUSE IT’S SPEED – AND THE CUSTOMERS, SORRY PATIENTS, COME BACK FOR MORE). However, the dearth of research supporting the use of psychostimulants in the treatment of depression means that clinicians have to make difficult treatment decisions based on clinical experience alone and this burdens them with unnecessary additional risk. (POOR CLINICIANS, WHAT A BURDEN – no matter those suffering now with a speed addiction / worsened anxiety / etc etc to boot) Really remarkable…

      • Thanks so much for the plain talk, Rob! BECAUSE IT’S SPEED. Oh yes indeed.

        There’s actually been quite a bit of research done on the combo of SSRI antidepressants plus speed, for people who have not managed to “get their life back” on SSRIs. Trouble is, most of it was negative. Have a look:

        Most of the recent studies were done with Vyvanse (lis-dex-amphetamine) since Shire still has a patent on the stuff. In one of the biggest studies the first phase went well, but the six-month followup was apparently so bad it was terminated early. I’d suspect the Vyvanse either stopped working, or people needed increasing doses to get the same effect. (And a few became so rapidly and obviously addicted, it embarrassed even the psychiatrists …) One of the biggest crimes of market-based medicine is that studies like this don’t get published! They have at least as much to teach us as most of the “successful” studies.

        One more thing driving the increasing use of this stuff in adults: Doctors are using it to offset the grogginess produced by the other meds they prescribe — mainly antipsychotics and opioids. Andrew Kolodny of PROP is one of the few who have spoken publicly about this practice in the pain clinics. But I’ve seen it several times in the world of Midwestern workers’ compensation.

    • Aye ..

      Since you brought this up, Damian, Akiko, seems to have a handle on it and does not mince her words in her appraisal but does so in a very acceptable manner which can make us all think about the importance of ‘acts’ and how they can relate to you and me ..

      The Interim Report on the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act: A Response

      Akiko Hart

      Akiko Hart is the Chair of ISPS UK, a Committee Member of the English Hearing Voices Network and the Hearing Voices Project Manager at Mind in Camden. She has previously worked as the Director of Mental Health Europe. Her research interests include critical suicidology, psychosis and dissociation.

      Peter J. Gordon May 3, 2018 at 1:33 am

      Dear Akiko,

      What a very thoughtful and wise perspective you offer on the Interim Report of the Mental Health Act. I share your every concern. I am not at all sure how this review came to be labelled as “Independent”!

      I should say I work in NHS Scotland and Scotland has its own Mental health legislation. I have been a psychiatrist for more than 20 years and I am coming now to the end of my career.

      Thank you for writing this Akiko.

      aye Peter
      Bridge of Allan

  3. Antidepressant Withdrawal: What’s in a Name

    READ and MO(O)RE ..

    On March 9, 2018, a group of thirty academics, psychiatrists and people with lived experience wrote to the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists to challenge public statements about antidepressant withdrawal made in The Times newspaper.

    Royal College of Psychiatrists Dig Deep Abyss

    UK Royal College Dismisses Complaint

    Today on MIA Radio we have a special episode which is devoted to recent developments in the UK involving a formal complaint lodged with the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists. 

    Professor John Read from the University of East London took time out to bring us up to date on the response to the complaint which was lodged on behalf of a group of thirty academics, psychiatrists and people with lived experience.

    James Moore
    May 1, 2018

    John Read Retweeted
    James Moore‏ @jf_moore 10h

    On the @Mad_In_America #podcast, Professor John Read @ReadReadj talks about the UK College of Psychiatrists attempt to dismiss a complaint about misleading the public

    John Read Retweeted
    Mad In America‏ @Mad_In_America 11h

    The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has dismissed a formal complaint of misleading the public on a matter of public safety against its President and Chair of its Psychopharmacology Committee. Professor John Read and colleagues respond to the dismissal

    Fiona French‏ @benzosarebad

    Transcript of RSM interview by Dr Peter Gordon. I am deeply troubled by the comments as is the rest of the online patient community. Deeply troubled.

    • The college of psychiatrists reveals it’s contempt for it’s members as well as the public and anybody who uses the services controlled by them, They cannot be trusted to behave decently or ethically or even with the knowledge and skills needed to treat mental illness when it is obvious they are not understanding or ignoring the scientific literature.. it is frightening that such a bunch of people can have so much control over vulnerable peoples’ lives. As they are withholding information which has been requested by John Reid and signatories of the petition – could a Freedom of Information request be used?

    • Very deeply troubled.

      Intolerant dogma and well rehearsed propaganda.

      For an entire professional lifetime I have afforded the Royal Society of Medicine the highest resect.

      Now: – No longer possible. This was not medicine.

  4. I see in this symptoms I have experienced trying to come off anti-psychotics like memory loss and extreme fatigue. As hard as my present situation is I see signs of hope that it is not me it is the drugs. I have struggled with acute withdrawal symptoms and agrivation of physical and mental problems because of drugs. I got off anti-depressants and mood stabilisers and if I can live without them – no one needs them. After recently watching crazywise i see hope that psychotic symptoms do eventually abate with patience and support. Thank you for your wonderful writing and for providing an increasingly robust space of resistance.

  5. Simon and Clare Wesseley were both interviewed o BBC R4 1/05./18 Midday News (although I could only bring up S W’s part on the pod cast) so they made sure both colleges were represented but no ‘user groups’ . Incredibly S W stated that he had been out of the loop doing other things for so long that he was surprised to find things were so bad – especially highlighting the situation regarding ‘black’ men and incarceration. Despite his ignorance of the situation and that there are other more suitable candidates SW accepted the appointment as Chair. It was given by Theresa May UK P.M – at a time when there are two national scandals in UK ie how the Windrush generation have/are being treated and the Grenfell Tower disaster – both effecting mainly non white British people. So it was useful to her for publicity to be concentrating on changing things for Black’ people when it has been known discrimination has been rampant in psychiatry for decades. She included concerns about the treatment of ‘Black’ people in part in a speech she made referring to the Act. Many have been campaigning themselves for at least 50 years and one group recently has set up an independant support and advice drop in in Lambeth ie the borough where Clare works because of the discriminatory way they are still treated. C W did unusually admit that she does know there are are serious issues around prescribed drugs but then quite slyly stated that people ‘claim’ to be having problems caused by psychiatric drugs. She is an experienced media presenter and knows how to skew information by the use of words such as ‘claim’..S W is flagging up that more ‘interventions’ designed to prevent hospitalisation are the way forward – both he and his wife ,despite Clare at least being a trained therapist herself.. strongly promote and defend use of drug treatments. There was much anguish and fear the last time compulsory treatment in the community orders were brought in – and found not to work after the harm had been caused to so many – and led to the apology from Tom Burns who no longer practices clinically ,he strongly advocated bringing them in as the government adviser of the time. So now the UK has another political appointment of a psychiatrist who does not engender trust and who has admitted he was not even aware of how dire the psychiatric services are in UK –

  6. My submission to the Scottish Parliament has now been returned to the petition webpage. Very strange.

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