Project Details

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Dr Sion Scott

Project area or title

Development of an intervention to support people through their journey to stopping an antidepressant


10% of adults in England take an antidepressant to treat common mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Like all medicines, antidepressants come with side effects which can get worse the longer someone takes them. These side effects can have a negative impact on people’s lives, for example excess sweating, sexual dysfunction and weight gain. It is important that people only take antidepressants for as long as they need to.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommend that most people don’t need to take antidepressants for more than 6-12 months. However, most people take them for at least 2 years, even when the mental health problem has resolved. People say that there is currently not enough support to come off antidepressants.

The rate and duration of antidepressant prescribing are highest in areas of deprivation, thus people living in these areas are most likely to experience harm as a result of taking the medicines for longer than they need to. These people are a priority for support.

This PhD project will develop an intervention to support people through their journey to stopping an antidepressant. Underpinned by the Medical Research Council guidance on the development of complex interventions, projects are likely to include:
• A realist review to establish what existing antidepressant stopping support works, for whom, and under what circumstances.
• Interviews and focus groups with experts by experience, healthcare professionals and social prescribers to contextualise realist review findings for the UK.
• Co-design workshops to develop the intervention.


Common Mental Health (covering anxiety, depression)


University of Leicester

Specific Project Eligibility