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SSRI and SNRI withdrawal symptoms reported on an internet forum

Tom Stockmann, Dolapo Odegbaro, Sami Timimi, Joanna Moncrieff
International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 2018, 29 (3-4): 175-180

BACKGROUND: Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are well-recognised, but their potential duration remains uncertain.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to describe the characteristics of withdrawal associated with two popular classes of antidepressants, including duration.

METHODS: We analysed the content of a sample of posts on an antidepressant withdrawal website. We compared the characteristics of withdrawal associated with SSRIs and SNRIs, including time of onset, duration and nature of symptoms.

RESULTS: 110 posts about SSRI withdrawal, and 63 concerning SNRI withdrawal, were analysed. The mean duration of withdrawal symptoms was significantly longer with SSRIs than SNRIs: 90.5 weeks (standard deviation, SD, 150.0) and 50.8 weeks (SD 76.0) respectively; p = 0.043). Neurological symptoms, such as 'brain zaps,' were more common among SNRI users (p = 0.023). Psychosexual/genitourinary symptoms may be more common among SSRI users (p = 0.054).

LIMITATIONS: The website aims to help people with antidepressant withdrawal, and is therefore likely to attract people who have difficulties. Length of prior use of antidepressants was long, with a mean of 252.2 weeks (SD 250.8).

CONCLUSIONS: People accessing antidepressant withdrawal websites report experiencing protracted withdrawal symptoms. There are some differences in the characteristics of withdrawal associated with different classes of antidepressants.


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