Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Antidepressant Prescribing Has Increased Almost 400%

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antidepressant prescribing has risen almost 400% since 1988.  The study, which is based on the responses of 12,000 participants from 2005-08, found that more than 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 12 now take antidepressants.  National statistics show that 9.1% of adults will suffer from depression at any given time in their lives, with women being more than two times more likely than men to develop the illness.

Depression most frequently hits people between the ages of 45 and 64, and the CDC found that Americans in this age group were more likely to receive prescription drugs to treat depression.  Race also played a part in depression statistics.  The findings show that although African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be depressed than whites, more antidepressants were taken by whites (14%), compared with just 4% of African-Americans and 3% of Hispanics.  Teens are also affected by depression.  According to data from the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2005, about 9% of teens ages 12 to 17 had a major depressive episode in the previous year, with only 2.8% of boys and 4.6% of girls taking antidepressants. 

The most concerning finding in the CDC study is that people who take antidepressants are taking them long term. Approximately 60% of people had taken the medications for two years or longer, and 14% had taken antidepressants for more than a decade.  Finally, the study finds that antidepressant prescriptions are more common than the prevalence of depression.  Although earlier data show that about one-fifth of the prescriptions are written to treat other conditions such as anxiety disorders, pain and menopausal symptoms, there is still a 2% excess of prescriptions written.

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