Depression is a common occurrence, especially in an economic climate such as the current one. However, antidepressant usage has gone up significantly in more than a decade.
“Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all socio-demographic groups examined, except African Americans,” according to Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University in New York and Steven Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Antidepressant usage has more than doubled since 1996. In 1996, 6 per cent, or 13 million people, were prescribed for the medication. In 2005, it rose to 10 per cent, or 27 million people.
The two doctors added, “Not only are more U.S. residents being treated with antidepressants, but also those who are being treated are receiving more antidepressant prescriptions.”
Last year, 164 million prescriptions were written for antidepressants, which totaled an astronomical $9.6 billion in medication sales in 2008.
The study did not suggest why people are taking antidepressants but one of their two conclusions could be that it is more socially acceptable to be diagnosed and treated for depression. The other factor could be that there are new drugs on the market to help treat the psychological disorder.
Dr. Eric Caine of the University of Rochester in New York believes that the medication does not help at all and that suicide rates have been climbing steadily, “There are no data to say that the population is healthier. Indeed, the suicide rate in the middle years of life has been climbing.”
An interesting note in the study is that black people are not using antidepressants.