Ann Kelly, from Rosneath, spent more than 20 years taking prescribed anti-depressants – and is still struggling with the after-effects of the drug, almost a decade after deciding to come off the medication.

Now aged 55, Ann is one of hundreds of people from across Scotland who have shared their experience with a Scottish Parliament committee's probe into the levels of support for people suffering from the side-effects of withdrawal.

Ann has no clear memory of when she was first prescribed anti-depressants, though she thinks it may have been when she was in her late teens.

Now 55, it took her more than 20 years to decide that she had no choice but to reduce – or “taper” – her use of prescription medication.

After two and a half years in which, as she says, her “world fell apart”, she’s now determined to help others who have become hooked – not just on anti-depressants but on any kind of prescription medication.

“The authorities’ approach is to medicate the symptoms, not to look and see what’s causing them,” she said.

“And it’s wrong. But doctors are only following the guidelines they have.

“I think some people are being led into believing they need these drugs to cope with life events.

“And once they’re hooked on them the problems are no less serious than the ones caused by alcohol, tobacco, cannabis or anything else.

“Drugs lead to stronger drugs as your body develops a tolerance – you then need more or stronger drugs to get the same effect.”

Ann has been “clean” for around seven and a half years now. And by “clean” she doesn’t mean off anti-depressants – she means that she takes no medication or drugs of any kind at all, as far as she possibly can.

“I don’t even take caffeine in my tea,” she said.

“I never drink coffee, I don’t drink, I’ve never smoked, I don’t take any over-the-counter medication – I don’t even use toothpaste with fluoride in it.

“I can’t even eat Chinese food because of the monosodium glutamate levels, or drink a glass of wine at a wedding.

“I feel it’s an invasive limitation on my life.”