Playing the Odds: Antidepressant ‘Withdrawal’ and the Problem of Informed Consent
If I thought that it was possible, I would have opened a string of clinics all over the country to help get people off of antidepressants. Unfortunately, the problems that sometimes occur when people try to stop an SSRI antidepressant are much more severe and long-lasting than the medical profession acknowledges, and there is no antidote to these problems.
Outside of using a benzodiazepine, I don’t have a lot of suggestions. Reinstating the medications often does not help and sometimes there is a negative reaction. In the past I worked with SAM-e, thought to enhance neurotransmitter synthesis, and L-tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin. It had placebo value, but was not an ‘antidote’ to the problem
The problem starts with nomenclature. The citizen scientists of the Internet have labeled the problem ‘protracted withdrawal.’ To physicians, withdrawal is a phenomenon that starts when the blood level of a substance drops to near zero and persists for a week or two. The concept of ‘protracted withdrawal’ is inconsistent with the very definition of withdrawal. So when a patient tells their doctor that they have ‘protracted withdrawal’ the doctor draws a blank.