Dramatic Increase Seen in Antidepressant Use

About one in 10 Americans now use the drugs, but are less likely to undergo psychotherapy
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Between 1996 and 2005, antidepressant use in the United States nearly doubled but stayed relatively low among African-Americans and Hispanics, according to a study published in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Mark Olfson, M.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and a colleague compared data from the 1996 and 2005 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys, which assessed antidepressant use in 18,993 and 28,445 subjects, respectively.

Between 1996 and 2005, the researchers found that the rate of antidepressant use increased from 5.84 to 10.12 percent, and observed significant increases in all sociodemographic groups except for African-Americans, whose rate increased from 3.61 to 4.51 percent. They also found that antidepressant use among Hispanics was relatively low in both years (3.72 and 5.21 percent, respectively).

"Among those receiving antidepressants, the likelihood of co-treatment with antipsychotic medications increased, whereas psychotherapy declined," the authors conclude. "These trends vividly illustrate the extent to which antidepressant treatment has gained acceptance in the United States and the growing emphasis on pharmacologic rather than psychologic aspects of care."

Both authors of the study reported financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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