More than 10% of adults are prescribed antidepressants annually in some countries. Recent increases in prescribing can be explained more by repeat prescriptions than new patients. This raises the question of whether antidepressants are addictive. A total of 1829 New Zealanders who had been prescribed antidepressants completed an online survey; 44% had been taking antidepressants for more than 3 years and were still taking them. Withdrawal effects when stopping medication were reported by 55%, and addiction by 27%. Paroxetine had particularly high rates of withdrawal symptoms. Only 1% of participants recalled being told about withdrawal effects when prescribed the drugs. Such high rates of withdrawal symptoms suggest that all concerned, including mental health nurses, need to help people considering antidepressants to understand that it can be difficult to withdraw from them. It will also be beneficial to closely monitor people already taking antidepressants and who are at risk of long-term usage.
Read, J., Cartwright, C., & Gibson, K. (2018). How many of 1829 antidepressant users report withdrawal effects or addiction? International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27(6), 1805–1815. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12488