REdressing Long-tErm Antidepressant uSE in general practice (RELEASE) study

Study registration

Why is the RELEASE study being conducted?

There is considerable concern about increasing antidepressant use, with Australians amoung the highest users in the world (around one in seven adults are using antidepressants). Antidepressants can help when people are experiencing depression, but guidelines recommend using them for up to one year. Yet in Australia the average duration of treatment is much longer and it is estimated that between 30-50% of people on long-term antidepressants could try stopping. Unnecessary long-term use is a concern because of side effects such as weight gain, decreased libido, emotional numbing, lack of motivation, sleeping difficulties, and increased risk of falls in older people. 

We understand there are many reasons why stopping long-term antidepressants can be difficult such as fear of relapse, fear of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (e.g. anxiety, irritability, insomnia and headache), difficult life circumstances, unpleasant previous attempt(s) to stop, a feeling of dependence on antidepressants, pessimism about the curability of depression, insufficient information about how to stop, insufficient support to stop, and a belief that your GP would suggest stopping it if were necessary.

Our vision is to improve the lives of millions of Australians by minimising unnecessary and potentially harmful long-term use of antidepressants if and when they are no longer needed. RELEASE helps people stop long-term antidepressants safely and slowly with the support of their GP.

Who is eligible to participate in this study?

You are eligible to participate if you are on long-term antidepressants (more than 12 months) and your GP has identified you as suitable for a review of your antidepressant medication.

What will participants be asked to do?

  • Complete an online survey (10-20 minutes to complete) at the start of the study and 6 months later.
  • Receive an information package about antidepressants, including an aid to help you decide whether to stop taking your antidepressants.
  • Schedule and attend an appointment(s) with your GP to review your medication.
  • Permit researchers to access your medical records held at your general practice to collect information including your decision to/not to discontinue, use of medications and details about your use of health services during the study including number of GP visits.
  • At the conclusion of the study, some participants will be invited to take part in a short interview (lasting about 15-30 minutes) via phone or online (e.g. Zoom or Skype).


Register your interest



Associate Professor Katharine Wallis

Associate Professor Katharine Wallis

Acting Head & Associate Professor
Primary Care Clinical Unit
Dr Maria Donald

Dr Maria Donald

Deputy Director - Research
Centre for Health System Reform and Integration
Principal Research Fellow
Primary Care Clinical Unit