Antidepressants Used by About 11 Percent of Americans

Use varies by sex, age, race and other variables

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Approximately one out of 10 Americans aged 12 and over take antidepressant medications, the use of which is most prevalent in women aged 40 to 59, according to an October data brief released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Laura A. Pratt, Ph.D., of the NCHS in Hyattsville, Md., and colleagues examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2005 through 2008 to investigate trends in antidepressant use, which has increased nearly 400 percent since the late 1980s.

The researchers found that antidepressants are used by 11 percent of Americans age 12 and over, that females are two-and-a-half times more likely than males to take antidepressant medication, and that use is much more common in non-Hispanic whites than in blacks or Hispanics. They also found that less than one-third of people taking a single antidepressant drug and less than one-half of people taking multiple antidepressant drugs have seen a health care provider in the last year.

"While the majority of antidepressants are taken to treat depression, antidepressants also can be taken to treat anxiety disorders, for example. The report describes antidepressant use among Americans aged 12 and over, including prevalence of use by age, sex, race and ethnicity, income, depression severity, and length of use," the authors write.

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Physician's Briefing