Health

Gov. Report: Antidepressant Use Skyrocketed Over Past 20 Years

| by Michael Allen

According to a federal government report released on Wednesday, the rate of antidepressant use among Americans of all ages increased nearly 400 percent over the last two decades, with 11 percent of Americans, 12 and older, now taking antidepressant drugs.

An 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.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers, 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.

The report 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.

Dr. Tolu Olupona, an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital Adolescent Health Center in New York City, said: "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 antidepressants."

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.

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