According to a report released on October 19 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of antidepressant drugs in the United States has increased by almost 400% over the past 20 years to the highest rate ever.
The data reported are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 2005-2008, which includes information from 12,637 participants about prescription-drug use, antidepressant use, length of use, severity of depressive symptoms, and contact with a doctor or other health professional.
Women are 250% more likely to take antidepressants than are men. More than 33% of women with moderate depression take antidepressant medications, while less than 20% of men with moderate depression take antidepressants. There are no significant differences between women and men in the length of use of antidepressants.
Medications in the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants have been linked to birth defects when used during pregnancy. SSRI birth defects include heart defects, limb defects, abdominal defects, and cranial defects.
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Approximately 11% of people age 12 years and older in the U.S. take an antidepressant medication. Adults age 40 and older are more likely to take antidepressants than younger people. Antidepressant medications are the most frequently prescribed drugs to people between the ages of 18-44 and the third most commonly prescribed drugs to Americans of all ages.
The following findings are reported in the study:
23% of women aged 40 to 59 take antidepressants, more than in any other age/sex group
40% of women with severe depression take antidepressants
20% of men with severe depression take antidepressants
14% of white people take antidepressants
4% of blacks take antidepressants
3% of Mexican Americans take antidepressants
8% of Americans aged 12 and older without current depressive symptoms took antidepressants
14% of those who are prescribed antidepressants take more than one
Researchers found that there is no difference in the prevalence of antidepressant use by income.
The report is published online by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics: Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over: United States, 2005–2008