A study conducted by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics finds that 11% of Americans over the age of 12 take antidepressants, making them the third most common drug prescribed between 2005 and 2008 for that age group. Overall, antidepressant use has skyrocketed 400% since 1988, just one year after Eli Lilly ($LLY) won FDA approval for the first-ever SSRI drug, Prozac.
Women were two and a half times more likely than men to take antidepressants, and whites were more likely than blacks to use the drugs. Many people reported receiving prescriptions for the meds through their regular doctor rather than a mental health professional. Less than a third of those taking one antidepressant and less than half of patients taking two types of drugs reported seeing a mental health specialist in the past year. Additionally, the study found that one in 25 teens use antidepressants.
The fact that many people are getting their prescriptions from non-specialized health professionals may be an issue, New York University psychiatrist Norman Sussman tells The Washington Post. “It raises the use to a public health level. The fact that non-psychiatrists are not as well-informed about some of the risks and limitations of these drugs is of concern,” he noted.
Though antidepressants are primarily meant to treat depression, their uses have expanded to include the treatment of other mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia and post traumatic stress disorder, notes Reuters.