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Trends in Antidepressant Use

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: May 16, 2005

The percentage of Americans taking antidepressant drugs increased from 5.6 percent in 1997 to 8.5 percent in 2002, according to the most recent government data from the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The data, from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, track prescription drug use among Americans not living in psychiatric hospitals or other institutions or serving in the military. Over-the-counter medicines and free samples were not included in the estimates.

  • Although antidepressant use was higher in 2002 than in 1997 for women or girls and men or boys, the rate of increase was higher for women or girls.
  • Antidepressant use by women or girls increased from 7.4 percent to 11.4 during the 5-year period.
  • Antidepressant use by men or boys increased from 3.8 percent to 5.4 percent.
  • Antidepressant use for people age 65 and older jumped from 9.3 percent in 1997 to 13.2 percent in 2002.
  • For people 18-64, the increase was from 6.8 percent to 10.3 percent.


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