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Antidepressant Prescriptions Climb by 16 Million

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: July 24, 2008

Prescriptions filled for antidepressant drugs increased from 154 million in 2002 to 170 million in 2005, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

For prescriptions (not including refills) which were written after patients talked with doctors in-person or over the phone, AHRQ data found that in 2005:

  • Psychiatrists—medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental disorders—prescribed 29 percent.
  • General practitioners—physicians who provide primary care but are specialty-trained—prescribed 23 percent.
  • Family practitioners—primary care physicians who complete a residency in family medicine—prescribed 21 percent.
  • Internal medicine specialists—physicians who complete a residency in internal medicine and who focus on the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of illnesses in adults that are often difficult to diagnose or manage—prescribed 10 percent.

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to enhance the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Antidepressants Prescribed by Medical Doctors in Office-Based and Outpatient Settings for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2002 and 2005.

For information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call 301-427-1539.

Current as of July 2008


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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