Discontinuation of antidepressants


Antidepressant use continues to rise, mainly explained by an increase in the proportion of patients receiving long term treatment. Although treatment guidelines recommend discontinuation after sustained remission, discontinuing antidepressants appears to be challenging for both patients and general practitioners (GPs). Mindfulness- Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an effective intervention that reduces the risk of relapse in recurrent depression and might facilitate discontinuation by teaching patients to cope with withdrawal symptoms and fear of relapse.



This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of the combination of Supported Protocolized Discontinuation (SPD) and MBCT in comparison with SPD alone in successful discontinuation of long-term use of antidepressants in primary care.



Patients were recruited from 34 GPs with a mental health assistant in the north, middle and east part of the Netherlands. They had received prescriptions for antidepressants in primary care for at least the past 9 months and were 18 years or older.



This study involved a cluster-randomized controlled trial conducted in primary care patients with long-term use antidepressants with baseline and 6, 9 and 12 months follow-up assessments. Patients choosing to discontinue their medication were offered a combination of SPD and MBCT or SPD alone. Our primary outcome will be full discontinuation of antidepressant medication (= 0 mg) within 6 months after baseline assessment. Secondary outcome measures will be the severity of withdrawal symptoms, symptoms of depression and anxiety, psychological well-being, quality of life and medical and societal costs.

Time period

This study was conducted between 2016 and 2019 and recruitment is now closed. Data are currently analyzed and reported.

More information (in Dutch)

– Patiëntfolder Afbouw van antidepressiva

– Keuzehulp Afbouw van antidepressiva

– Antidepressiva Afbouwprotocol (suggesties voor afbouwschema’s)

– Globale leidraad bij de afbouw van antidepressiva door de POH-GGZ

For questions related to this study, contact Marloes Huijbers mailto:Marloes.Huijbers@radboudumc.nl 


Carolien Wentink

Om optimaal gebruik te maken van deze website, dient u gebruik te maken van Google Chrome.