March 28, 2023

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Now more than seven million of us take antidepressants every day some have been taking them for decades in a significant change of position the royal college of psychiatrists now wants doctors to do more to help people wean themselves off them rebecca hawk who struggled with coming off the drugs for the last two years joins us now hi rebecca before we talk through

The issues you’ve got now do you mind just telling us why you you you first started to take antidepressants yeah sure so i was diagnosed with post natal anxiety when my son was three months old and i was first went to my gp because i couldn’t sleep and i was having panic attacks and she put me on a quite a basic kind of first sort of basic antidepressant and we

Gave it a few weeks it didn’t work so now i was referred to the perinatal mother and baby unit the lgi and they were saw a consultant and they prescribed me a stronger dose of antidepressant a different type venlafaxine it’s called right so when was that rebecca that was four years ago now nearly comments four years ago all right so and when you went on those were

You just interested in relieving your issues rather than wondering what the long-term effects yeah absolutely the anxiety and well the anxiety felt completely alien to me i’d never experienced anything like that in my life and i knew instantly that i wasn’t well and something wasn’t right so i wanted something to fix it and i was determined that was gonna fix it

And it was i guess it was a bit of a quick fix but i i followed what the consultant gave me i took their advice i did they work i think they did work yeah i think they did help i also had a really good structure around me close family friends my husband’s fantastic i am i started exercising everyday i was going to baby group so there was a lot of other elements

By thinking the short term they did help quite quickly yeah so what now four years on what’s what first prompted you to think right i need to be getting off these so about 18 months in i think it was actually my husband that was saying maybe you should try and come off them you you seem a lot better so i started to think okay i think i probably did a little bit

Of research but i started to just basically cut the pills up that i had that was taking and chopping them in quarters and kind of reducing them over a couple of weeks and very quickly realize that that wasn’t gonna work that i was back to where i was with crippling anxiety uncontrollable crying not sleeping not eating and so over a year the cost of a year i tried

To do that on three separate occasions just thinking that it wasn’t the right time and every time i just ended up going back up to the to the same dose and i asked my gp for help they weren’t an awful lot of help i rang the consultant at the mother and baby unit and asked for help and she wasn’t she had no advice to me whatsoever because what because they weren’t

Informed or they were just telling me that i was doing well i just carry on with what i was doing i don’t really sure they they just have any kind of guidelines or any advice on how to do it they were just saying you know yeah you do the right thing just keep going what you doing so that what the notion is that look you you’ve give you’re on antidepressants they’re

Working why even come off them do you think that’s kind of what they were suggesting possibly or they may have thought well your symptoms are coming back so you need to go back on them again and whereas i think that it was the withdrawals from the drugs so i’m just looking at some of these symptoms of when you do come off antidepressants and some of them can mimic

Those original symptoms you had going in yeah personally it’s been worse it’s been are not awful the withdrawal effects have been an awful lot worse than the original postnatal problem i will dealt with 100 you feel at the moment that i you find about the position you find yourself yeah i’m well i can see the end now i know that i’ve maybe got another 6 to 12 months

To go but the lower i get the harder it is it seems i don’t know why for some reason i mean i was i was i’m really lucky that i was put on a liquid version of the drug so i’ve been able to tape her it really small into tiny amounts but every what i think is you might think it’s a tiny amount maybe too fast or i may be doing it weekly and it’s too fast so i have to

Slow it down even further you have to maybe do a reduction then give it four weeks or six weeks to feel better and then do another one so what do we take away from this thing you feel now when you when you are prescribed them you should be given more advice about when and how to awesome yeah i think it’s the knowledge behind it i think it’s i i don’t disagree that

I’m probably didn’t need them at the time and they did help me it was the aftercare there’s there’s no kind of structure in place to help people get off them there’s no advice the doctors don’t have any ideas it seems i think it’s becoming better and it’s great that’s been acknowledged but the withdrawal symptoms are definitely caused by a physical dependency on

The drug not by the problem coming back again and they say they’re not addictive but it’s just your body gets used to doing some finds it hard to yeah absolutely okay when do you think you’ll be completely clear of it all rebecca i’m hoping another six possibly up to 12 months but i don’t know from talking to other people up in the same situation it can would

You actually stop them it can it could be worse after that it can people end up with discontinuation syndrome it can last further so who knows but we wish you the best rebecca thanks for coming on the program cheers rebecca hope they’re speaking to us from leeds if you’ve had issues with antidepressants um the the current uk guidance actually for doctor says that

Withdrawal symptoms are usually mild and self-limiting over about a week but can be severe particularly if the drug is stopped abruptly and i guess it’s all about that advice about how to wean yourself off if you’ve been in that position or you still on them you’ve been on from the wall and is no.8 505 a at bbc five life

Transcribed from video
Venlafaxine/Effexor withdrawals Radio 5 Live Interview May 2019 Rebekah By Rebekah Hock