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Teen Health 411

Antidepressant Use Rises

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I guess I actually knew this intuitively, as the number of people I know who mention "trying antidepressants" rises, but the Archives of General Psychiatry article by Drs. Olfson and Marcus (August, 2009, 66(8), pp, 848-856) has confirmed my sense that antidepressant use has risen.

In fact, in the United States between 1966 and 2005 the annual rate of antidepressant use for people rose from 5.84 percent to 10.12 percent - translating into 27 million people over the age of six who were taking antidepressants. FYI, that makes antidepressants the most widely prescribed class of medication in office-based and hospital outpatient-based medical practices.

There are some differences across demographic groups - with the lowest rates of use found among ethnic/racial minority groups, in particular the Latino and Black communities. Another finding was that people using antidepressants were less likely in 2005 to be using psychotherapy (20 percent) in conjunction with the antidepressants than in 1996 (32 percent).

The good news is that antidepressant use has apparently gained acceptance and people who need them are more likely to receive them. On the other hand, the trend toward relying on the medication rather than psychological aspects of care suggests we need to review how therapy is paid for by insurance companies and whether medication is used more than therapy for economic reasons.

Photo credit: Amanda M Hatfield
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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