* Women more likely to take antidepressants than men
* Once prescribed, many people stay on them
(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
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
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