According to a report by pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions Inc, more than one in four U.S. women took at least one drug for conditions like anxiety and depression last year.
The medications are most often prescribed to women aged 45 and older. Women are twice as likely as men to use anxiety treatments. However, among men 20 to 64, use of the drugs has quadrupled over the last decade. More than 20 percent of U.S. adults were found to be on at least one drug for mental health disorders.
The statistics were taken from Medco's database of prescriptions and are based on 2.5 million patients with 24 months of continuous prescription drug insurance and eligibility.
Dr David Muzina, a psychiatrist and national practice leader of Medco's Neuroscience Therapeutic Resource Center, said: "There has been a significant uptick in the use of medications to treat a variety of mental health problems. What is not as clear is if more people, especially women, are actually developing psychological disorders that require treatment. Or (it might be) if they are more willing to seek out help and clinicians are better at diagnosing these conditions than they once were."
ADHD prescriptions for children have been declining since 2005. Medco found that prescriptions of those drugs for children have dropped since 2004, when the FDA warned they were linked to suicidal thoughts when used in people under 19.
In the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama, about 23 percent of people are on at least one psychiatric or behavioral disorder drug. Diabetes is particularly widespread in those states and the condition is associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety disorders.
The lowest rate of prescriptions was found in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where less than 15 per cent of people are using those medications.
For more info and news on depression and anxiety, please go to LivingWithAnxiety.com.