More than one in 10 Americans use antidepressants

Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:55pm EDT

The antidepressant drug Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, are seen on a table in Leicester, central England February 26, 2008 in this posed photograph.  REUTERS/Darren Staples

The antidepressant drug Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, are seen on a table in Leicester, central England February 26, 2008 in this posed photograph.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Staples

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(Reuters) - More than one in 10 Americans over the age of 12 takes an antidepressant, a class of drugs that has become wildly popular in the past several decades, U.S. government researchers said Wednesday.

Antidepressants were the third-most common drug used by Americans of all ages between 2005 and 2008 and they were the most common drug among people aged 18 to 44, according to an analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

The team analyzed data on more than 12,000 Americans who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 2005 and 2008.

They found that antidepressant use in the United States jumped nearly 400 percent in the 2005-2008 survey period compared with the 1988-1994 period, with 11 percent of those over age 12 taking the drugs.

The increase followed the U.S. approval in 1987 of Eli Lilly and Co's Prozac or fluoxetine, the first of a newer class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or SSRIs.

According to the survey, U.S. women are 2-1/2 times more likely than men to take antidepressants, and whites are more likely than blacks to take the drugs, researchers.

Once prescribed, many people continue taking antidepressants, with more than 60 percent of Americans who use the drugs report being on them for 2 years or more.

And about 14 percent of Americans taking antidepressant medication have done so for 10 years or longer.

Patients who take the drugs often get them from their regular doctor rather than a so-called mental health professional.

According to the survey, fewer than a third of Americans taking one antidepressant drug and fewer than half of those taking more than one have seen mental health professional in the past year.

Although first introduced for depression, several antidepressants are now used to treat a host of problems, including anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia and even post traumatic stress disorder.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (19)
Jon281170 wrote:
No wonder the world is in the state it is. If we are to turn to artificial drug supported solace, instead of facing up to facts and taking life at face vaue, we are going to turn the human race into a spineless collection of escapist hypochondriacs.

Oct 19, 2011 5:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gregbrew56 wrote:

Too late!

Oct 19, 2011 6:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RhodeGuy wrote:
Jon, I agree with you that too many are taking anti depressants but I can also tell you that had this particular class of drugs not been invented when they were, I’d be dead right now. I was a hardcore drug addict for years who had been told that my drug use was my source of depression. after about 15 years I went to a clinic that treated depression and was put on Prozac. This was back in the late 80′s when they were new. After 2 weeks my life changed. I got off the drugs and was able to live a normal life since. It was obvious that I had been self-medicating over the years and assumed/was told I was a hopeless addict according to 12 step and other mental health clinics. It is NOT a cure all for everyone but to those that truly have an imbalance in their brain chemestry it allows them to live a normal life (work, take care of family, etc)

Oct 19, 2011 6:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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