The use of antidepressants has jumped almost 400 percent in the last 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antidepressants are the third most common prescription drug in America, taken by 11 percent of those ages 12 and older.
HealthDay reports antidepressants are the most frequently used drug among people ages 18 to 44. About one-third of people with severe depression take antidepressant medication. The CDC notes more than 60 percent of Americans who take an antidepressant have done so for at least two years. Almost 14 percent have taken the medication for at least 10 years.
Less than one-third of those taking one antidepressant, and less than half of those taking more than one, had consulted a mental health professional in the last year, according to the CDC report, which is based on a survey of Americans conducted between 2005 and 2008. Women are 2.5 times more likely than men to take an antidepressant. Use of the drugs is more common among whites than among blacks or Mexican Americans.
About 8 percent of Americans without current symptoms of depression took the drugs. They may be taking them for reasons other than depression, or the drugs may be working well enough so a person no longer has symptoms of depression, the article notes.