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Friday, October 21, 2011

Antidepressant Use Steadily Rises

The use of antidepressants has become more and more common these days, jumping by almost 400 percent in the last 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antidepressants have fast become the third most common prescription drug in America, taken by 11 percent of those ages 12 and older. Antidepressants are not solely prescribed for depression symptoms; they may be used for pain management as well as anxiety problems.

According to the CDC:
  • Antidepressants are the most frequently used drug among people ages 18 to 44.
  • About one-third of people with severe depression take antidepressant medication.
  • 60 percent of Americans who take an antidepressant have done so for at least two years.
  • Almost 14 percent have taken the medication for at least 10 years.

A survey of Americans conducted between 2005 and 2008 found that less than one-third of those taking one antidepressant, and less than half of those taking more than one, had consulted a mental health professional in the last year, according to the CDC report.

Women are 2.5 times more likely than men to take an antidepressant. Use of the drugs is more common among whites than among blacks or Mexican Americans.

About 8 percent of Americans without current symptoms of depression took the drugs. Antidepressants have proven effective for a number of people; however, there are many who experience serious side-effects that will often deter a patient from continued use. It is critical that doctors ask many questions about how a patient is responding to the antidepressant they are prescribed, so that if something needs to be adjusted it can be done promptly.

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