Surprisingly, only a third of the people with severe psychological symptoms actually take antidepressant medication. Despite this fact, antidepressants are still the third most commonly prescribed drug taken by Americans of all ages. From 2005-2008, cholesterol-lowering drugs and analgesics, also known as painkillers, were the top two most prescribed drugs, with antidepressants following closely behind. A recent report on Antidepressant use in persons 12 and older: United States, 2005-2008 found that 11% of Americans 12 and over take antidepressants, of these people, over half have taken them for two or more years.
Non-Hispanic whites are more likely to take antidepressant medication than people of other races, although there was no difference in the usage of these types of medication based on income. Women were also more likely to take medication for severe depressive symptoms, about 40%. Many people take more than one antidepressant, although this study did not provide any data on how many medications taken per person.
Seeing a mental health professional is critical in tracking depression; the more drugs prescribed to a person, the more likely it is that they have seen a mental health professional in the past year. However, less than one third of persons taking just one antidepressant have seen a mental health professional in the past year. The data found in this study brings about many questions. How many people out there are in need of medication, yet refuse, or are unable, to get help? What are the long term effects of taking antidepressants in teenagers? And perhaps most importantly, why are there so many people taking antidepressants?
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