RCPsych comments on new NICE guidance regarding patients withdrawing from antidepressants

Statement / comment
17 January 2023

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has today (Tuesday 17 January) responded to new guidance from NICE regarding antidepressant withdrawal for adults with depression.

The new draft quality standard from NICE recommends that adults who want to stop taking antidepressants should have the dose of their medication reduced in stages (known as ‘tapering’) in order to to help reduce the likelihood and severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Dr Adrian James, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“We know that antidepressants can save lives, and most people will not need to take them for more than six to 12 months, but when a patient does come off antidepressants, they may experience both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms which is why it is usually best to stop them slowly. These new guidelines are a positive step forward which will help countless people come off antidepressants across the UK safely.

“The prescribing numbers for antidepressants have been consistently trending upwards in recent years. Clinicians treating someone who is taking them should regularly review whether they are still providing benefits or might no longer be needed. They should also inform the patient about the advantages and risks of reducing their dose so that they can take part in the decision-making process.

"It is important to note that, for many patients, antidepressants are part of a lifesaving treatment programme. Patients should not stop taking antidepressants suddenly and should talk to their doctor beforehand. The College has produced a resource for patients and carers on stopping antidepressants, that offers information on how someone can taper their medication at a pace that suits them and their individual needs.”


The College also has mental health guidance on depression in adults as well as depression in older adults.

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