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De-prescribing antidepressants and managing withdrawal

Katharine Wallis will focus on how to recognize antidepressant withdrawal symptoms and how to support patients to minimize withdrawal symptoms to enable them to stop antidepressants safely.

Many people start antidepressants and find themselves unable to stop. While clinical guidelines recommend only 6-12 months of antidepressant therapy for a single episode of major depression, many people remain on antidepressants for longer, sometimes for many years.

There are harms associated with long-term antidepressant use. There is increasing evidence that many people experience withdrawal symptoms (which can be severe) when they attempt to stop antidepressants.

Withdrawal symptoms are frequently misconstrued by both patients and doctors as ‘relapse’ or ongoing need for medication. While some symptoms may be similar, including ‘feeling anxious and irritable’, it is possible to distinguish withdrawal from ‘relapse’.

As always, we will answer as many questions as possible during this session.

Presenter

Katharine Wallis

GP and Professor

MBChB, PhD, MBHL, Dip Obst, FRNZCGP, FACRRM

Katharine is a practising GP and Head of both the Mayne Academy of General Practice and General Practice Clinical Unit at the University of Queensland. She leads the RELEASE (REdressing Long-tErm Antidepressant uSE in general practice) trial funded by the Australian Commonwealth Department of Health, Medical Research Future Fund and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Katharine is a graduate of the University of Otago, where she also completed the degree of Master of Bioethics and Health Law and a doctorate. Katharine worked as a GP in Dunedin for many years prior to moving to Auckland where she worked in a central city practice and in the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care at the University of Auckland.