Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over: United States, 2011-2014

August 16, 2017

Questions for Laura Pratt, Psychiatric Epidemiologist and Author of “Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over: United States, 2011-2014

Q:  Are more people taking antidepressants now vs. in the past?

LP:   Yes, in our data brief, figure 4, you can see how antidepressant use has increased over time from 1999-2002 to 2011-2014.  Slightly less than 8% of the U.S. population took antidepressants in 1999-2002 while almost 13% took antidepressants in 2011-2014.  This is an increase of about 65%.  The rates of increase were similar for males and females, but twice as many females took antidepressants as males at all time points.


 

Q: Is there any particular age group in which antidepressant use is higher?

LP:   Among all persons and among females, antidepressant use was highest in persons 60 years of age and older.


 

Q:  Does this mean that rates of mental illness are on the rise?

LP:   Our report does not look at rates of mental illness.  But in general, prescription drug use is also related to healthcare access and utilization, and, in mental health particularly, many studies have shown high rates of under-treatment.  The situation with a large percent of people with depression, for example, not receiving treatment has improved over time.  Increases in healthcare utilization and treatment of depression would result in a higher rate of antidepressant use whether or not the rates of mental illness increased.


 

Q:  What are the risks or dangers of antidepressant use?

LP:   The first antidepressants that were available had many side effects and could cause overdose death.  The vast majority of overdose deaths related to these drugs were intentional (suicides). The newer antidepressants in use today have fewer side effects and have a much lower risk of overdose.  Antidepressants do not produce a “high” and are not drugs of abuse.


 

Q:  Any other findings you feel are noteworthy?

LP:   It was very noteworthy that non-Hispanic white persons ages 12 and older continue to have rates of antidepressant use that are between 3 and 5 x higher than persons in other race and Hispanic origin groups. I was also surprised to see that 25% of people who take an antidepressant have taken it for more than 10 years.  In our first antidepressant data brief, the percent of people taking an antidepressant for more than 10 years was 13.6%.  Interestingly, the percent of persons taking antidepressants who took them for more than 2 years was 61% in 2005-08 and increased to 68% in 2011-2014.

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Antidepressant Use in Americans 12 and Older

October 24, 2011

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?

To view the full report please visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db76.pdf

Related articles:

Medical News Today uses data from survey-

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/236260.php

ABC Action News Report-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTAiaJ7iCdI


Federal report on America’s children released

July 10, 2009

Federal interagency report shows declines in preterm birth and low birthweight. Children more likely to live in poverty, less likely to have parent employed full time.

These and other statistics have been compiled in America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009. It is compiled by a number of federal agencies and provides a comprehensive picture of the following key areas of child well-being: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health.

To access the report, please visit www.childstats.gov


Teen Suicide and Antidepressants

September 6, 2007

Today’s Washington Post carries a story based on an article from the journal American Journal of Psychiatry.

Warnings from federal regulators four years ago that antidepressants were increasing the risk of suicidal behavior among young people led to a precipitous drop in the use of the drugs. Now a new study has found that the drop coincides with an unprecedented increase in the number of suicides among children.

From 2003 to 2004, the suicide rate among Americans younger than 19 rose 14 percent, the most dramatic one-year change since the government started collecting suicide statistics in 1979, the study found. The rise followed a sharp decrease in the prescribing of antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil after parents and physicians were confronted by a barrage of warnings from the Food and Drug Administration and international agencies.

NCHS data on suicides among adolescents aged 10-14 and 15-19 is here.

Our data on antidepressant prescriptions is here. 


Anti-depressant Use

August 10, 2007

CNN recently ran a story that has gained some attention. It is entitled CDC: Antidepressants most prescribed drugs in U.S.

[…]According to a government study, antidepressants have become the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. They’re prescribed more than drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, or headaches. CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen discusses the CDC study on antidepressants »

In its study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals in 2005. Of those, 118 million were for antidepressants.

High blood pressure drugs were the next most-common with 113 million prescriptions.

The use of antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs — those that affect brain chemistry — has skyrocketed over the last decade.

Adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between the periods 1988-1994 and 1999-2000.

Between 1995 and 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the use of these drugs rose 48 percent, the CDC reported.

The data for this report comes from our flagship publication Health, United States and in the 2006 edition is found at Table 92. This publication is an invaluable resource for anyone writing about health issues. If you are just interested in the drug use data click here.


Anti-depressant use by minors

April 17, 2007

Information on the number of prescriptions written to  minors for anti-depressants can be found in Health, United States 2006 at Table 92. (located on page 331 of a very large .pdf file).

Briefly in the period 1995-96 there were 1.9 prescriptions written for anti-depressants for every 100 persons aged 18 and under. By 2003-04 that number was 8.0.  While both boys and girls received anti-depressants at the same rate (1.9) in 1995-96, in the 2003-04 period boys received 9.1 prescriptions per 100 persons and girls received 6.8.

Unfortunately, we did not collect this data before 1995.