-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of
antidepressant use among Americans of all ages increased nearly 400
percent over the last two decades, and 11 percent of Americans aged
12 and older now take antidepressant drugs, according to a federal
government report released Wednesday.
The analysis of 2005-2008 data from the U.S. National Health and
Nutrition Examination Surveys also showed that antidepressants are
the third most common prescription drug taken by Americans of all
ages and the most frequently used by those aged 18 to 44.
Of people with severe depression, about one-third takes
antidepressant medication. More than 60 percent of Americans taking
an antidepressant drug have taken it for two years or longer and
nearly 14 percent have taken the medication for 10 years or more,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The investigators also found that less than one-third of people
taking one antidepressant and less than half of those taking
multiple antidepressants had seen a mental health professional in
the past year.
Commenting on the report, Dr. Tolu Olupona, an assistant
clinical professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Mount Sinai
Hospital Adolescent Health Center in New York City, said that "it
is surprising to learn that only about one-third of those taking
one antidepressant have seen a mental health professional within
the past year. The number of those who have seen a mental health
professional do appear to improve for those taking two or more
But, Olupona pointed out, "the data does not show if those who
were not being monitored by a mental health professional were being
monitored by primary care physicians. Nevertheless, the rate of
follow-up by a mental health professional needs to be
In addition to these findings, the researchers reported that
women are 2.5 times more likely to take antidepressants than men
and 23 percent of women aged 40 to 59 take antidepressants, more
than in any other age/sex group.
Forty percent of women and 20 percent of men with severe
depression take antidepressants, as well as more than one-third of
women and less than one-fifth of men with moderate depression, the
Among all adults, those aged 40 and older and more likely to
take antidepressants than younger people. There were no significant
differences between women and men in the length of use of
Fourteen percent of white people take antidepressants, compared
with 4 percent of blacks and 3 percent of Mexican Americans. The
researchers found no association between income and antidepressant
About 8 percent of Americans aged 12 and older without current
depressive symptoms took antidepressants. This may include those
taking the drugs for reasons other than depression and those taking
the drugs for depression who are being treated successfully and do
not currently have depressive symptoms, Laura Pratt and colleagues
at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics explained in the
NCHS Data Brief.
According to Olupona, "these medications can be effective for
treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and some other
disorders," but it is best when the patients receive "careful
follow-up to manage efficacy, drug-drug interactions, side effects,
medication compliance and a host of other medication management
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.