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Rate of Psychiatric Drug Use About 16 Percent in U.S. Adults

Highest rate of use seen for antidepressants


MONDAY, Dec. 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- One in six U.S. adults take a psychiatric medication to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Thomas J. Moore, from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Alexandria, Va., and Donald R. Mattison, M.D., from Risk Sciences International in Ottawa, Canada, used the 2013 U.S. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to calculate percentages of adults using prescription antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives, sleep aids, and antipsychotics.

Among the one in six people (16.7 percent) who reported use of these drugs, 12.0 percent said they had taken an antidepressant; 8.3 percent reported filling a prescription for anxiety medicine, sedatives, or sleep aids; and 1.6 percent said they had taken antipsychotic drugs. Whites were about twice as likely to use these medications (20.8 percent) as blacks and Hispanic adults. Just 4.8 percent of Asians said they had taken them. Among all adults using these drugs, eight of 10 reported long-term use, meaning three or more prescriptions were filled in 2013 or they were continuing a prescription started in 2011 or earlier. Use of these drugs increased with age, with one-quarter of those 60 to 85 reportedly taking them compared to 9 percent of 18- to 39-year-olds. Women also were more likely to report using psychiatric drugs than men.

Among the 10 leading psychiatric medications were six antidepressants: sertraline, citalopram, fluoxetine, trazodone, escitalopram, and duloxetine. Also in the top 10 were three anxiety drugs (alprazolam, clonazepam, and lorazepam) and the sleep aid zolpidem, according to the study.

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