Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Doctors: “Difficult to stop taking antidepressants”

Published 31 May 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Sweden prescribes more antidepressants than other Nordic countries.

Prescriptions for antidepressants are at record levels in Sweden. Doctors are now warning that it can be very difficult to stop taking the medication.

Last year, 1.2 million Swedes were prescribed antidepressants, a figure that has increased in recent years. Medication for depression is also becoming more common among the elderly, as well as children, with Sweden in the lead among the Nordic countries. Meanwhile, few people receive psychological help.

– It’s cheaper for the healthcare system to write prescriptions and there is another access to it, Sandra af Winklerfelt Hammarberg, a specialist in general medicine, told the Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

When you stop taking medication, you can get so-called withdrawal symptoms, i.e. a form of withdrawal that the body goes through when it is weaned off a drug. These include side effects such as headaches, anxiety, dizziness and sweating.

According to FASS, most symptoms disappear after two weeks, but in some cases withdrawal symptoms can last for several months. Johan Stiernstedt, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, goes further and says that side effects can last for many years. The symptoms also often cause patients to go back on the antidepressant because they think the depression has returned.

“Struggling for years”

– Many people are unable to quit, or struggle for years before they succeed, he tells SVT.

Stiernstedt believes, however, that while such drugs can help people who feel bad, they are prescribed far too easily in Sweden.

– Medicine is often the only thing on offer and it puts a lid on emotional life, he says.

Anne-Katrin Kantzer, medical expert at the National Board of Health and Welfare, agrees and points out that there are too few forms of treatment in Sweden.

– We prescribe more than our neighboring countries. One dilemma is that there is a lack of other treatment options such as psychotherapy in many parts of the country.

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