Antidepressant Usage Challenges CBT Treatment

CBT clients often wish to discuss discontinuation of their antidepressants or take precipitous action to do so. But CBT training rarely addresses such issues. The matter has been  given an extra urgency by a recent paper by James Davies and John Read which found that that half of antidepressant users have significant side effects when they attempt withdrawal., see link

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rs6x0hapwduccgz/antidepressants%20Davies-Read%202018.pdf?dl=0

But these withdrawal symptoms can be labelled as a return of anxiety/depression, a misdiagnosis and the GP then increases the dosage or switches the person to another antidepressant. Clients often then complain of being ‘zonked out’ and an increase in symptoms particularly impaired concentration, making CBT more difficult. The danger is that the CBT therapist can feel that they are on uncertain ground, marginalise the client’s medication concerns and hurriedly revert to whatever protocol was being followed. Unfortunately the therapist and GP are most likely located in different laces with no opportunity to chat about such matters.

The NICE guidelines for GPs states that withdrawal symptoms for antidepressants last a week or two after gradual withdrawal. but this advice was based on studies where patients had been on antidepressants for just 8-12 weeks.  Davies and Read point out that over half of those on antidepressants have been taking them for more than 2 years and suggest that this is a very different ball game, with withdrawal symptoms beginning some time after discontinuation. They call for more real world studies of the discontinuation of long term antidepressants.

In the light of the Davies and Read paper NICE is reconsidering its guidance to GPs.

 

Dr Mike Scott

My black cloud, revolving door and IAPT

‘I found Silvercloud ineffective, generic and not tailored to my personal situation. It wasn’t engaging or helpful and as such I didn’t engage with the website very much. Consequently, the following weekly call with the IAPT therapist  were sometimes made difficult by the fact I hadn’t completed the same questionnaire as the week before or read through articles. I wanted to talk about my situation, my feelings and find out why I was feeling the way I was, but I felt I was just being led back to using the online Silvercloud resource.

‘It was in 2017 that my doctor suggested I try Silvercloud online CBT with telephone support and in September 2017, I started speaking to another IAPT counsellor. He seemed to be a very nice man. After a few weekly calls, he stated that he didn’t believe I was depressed and so he changed the original Silvercloud course I had started and reset it back to a new series of 6 sessions. The weekly calls lasted between 20 minutes to an hour depending on what we discussed, but always concluded with him asking me to log onto Silvercloud and work my way through the programme before our next call. After the requisite 6 sessions finished in February 2018, that was it! No answers, no tools to help me cope, just signed off, discharged, but told I had 12 month access to SilverCloud. I haven’t used the resource since.

I had a very poor experience of counselling through IAPT around 2013. I had been scheduled 6 sessions, these hour long sessions were so ineffective and pointless I can hardly recall anything that was discussed. I may have missed a couple of sessions due to work, but once the 6 sessions expired, I was discharged even though I may have only seen the counsellor 4 times. All I can recall is going over the initial questionnaire about my mood over the previous week which I had been told to monitor through photocopied pictures and graphs which I was told to keep in a file and bring to each appointment’.

 

 

The above is the anonymous report of a depressed client of mine, who is responding very well to my cbt treatment. Not only is she scathing about her IAPT treatment but also about her treatment from her GP:

‘At its height, I was being prescribed 200mg sertraline, 80mg of propranolol. I went to see my doctor for something routine, when she commented on my ‘low mood’ and suggested increasing my antidepressants. I told her I was already taking the maximum dosage and said I didn’t want to take more prescription medicine. I was already taking 200mg of setraline and 80mg of propranolol at that time. My prescriptions had been increased over a period of time without much investigation. In a short 5-10 minute appointment, my ‘low mood’ was usually commented upon and an increase in antidepressant and/or beta blocker was almost automatically prescribed.
In early 2018, I went to see my doctor and insisted that we work together to reduce my medication as I felt so unwell and was sure that the amount of medication I was taking was actually making me feel worse rather than better’.

There is no substitute for really listening.

Dr Mike Scott