CDC Survey: Long-Term Use Of Antidepressants Is Common, Recent Use Increased By 65% In Fifteen Years

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CDC Survey: Long-Term Use Of Antidepressants Is Common, Recent Use Increased By 65% In Fifteen Years

According to a recent government survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in eight Americans over age 12 report using antidepressants over the past month. That’s an increase of 65% between 1999-2014.

The survey also found that women are almost twice as likely as their male counterparts to be using antidepressants, which are taken by 16.5% of females compared to less than 9% of males.

The research team, led by Laura Pratt of the CDC’s National Centers for Health Statistics, also noted that the long-term use of antidepressants is “common” and that “one-fourth of all people who took antidepressants over the past month reported having taken them for 10 years or more.”

Why the spike in use? Experts posit several theories, including an abating mental health stigma that may contribute to more people seeking help. Still, others believe it’s a product of ever-increasing stress that Americans are facing.

Or, the trend may also be related to isolation as a result of reliance on social media, or the American mindset that taking a pill may offer a quick fix.

The report is based on responses from over 14,000 Americans to a federal government survey conducted from 2011-2014. Findings were compared to prior surveys reaching all the way back to 1999.

In addition to the marked gender gap in antidepressant use, the survey also revealed that whites were much more likely than Asian-Americans, blacks, or Hispanics to take the medications. In the past month, 16.5% of whites reporting using an antidepressant, compared to 5.6% of blacks, 5% of Hispanics and 3.3% of Asians.

There are also a few different theories for this trend. Whites tend to have better access to mental health care services, and it is also more culturally-appropriate for whites to use them (especially men.)

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

References

Pratt LA, Brody DJ, Gu Q. Antidepressant use among persons aged 12 and over: United States, 2011–2014. NCHS data brief, no 283. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2017.

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