Of all mental health drugs, the most widely used are antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft.
Women are twice as likely to experience depression than men, and the overall use of antidepressants mirrors that gender difference in adults. However, between 2001 and 2010, the Medco report found, the rate of use rose at about the same pace in men (28%) and women (29%). The most significant increase — 40% — was among women age 65 and older.
Rates of antidepressant use in children in 2010 remained about the same as in 2001, but over the course of the decade they had risen and fallen. Until 2004, youth use of antidepressants was increasing dramatically, peaking at 3% of tween and teen girls and 2.5% of boys. But in 2004, the Food and Drug Administration put a black box warning on popular antidepressants — selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors including Celexa, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft — because of the increase in suicide risk in youth who take them. After 2004, rates of use among kids and teens declined; in 2010, 2.5% of girls and 2% of boys used antidepressants, rates similar to 2001 levels.
Interestingly, severalstudies conducted after the black box warning found that reducing the prescription of antidepressants to youth was actually associated with higher suicide rates in this age group, and that the vast majority of teen suicides occur in those not taking antidepressant drugs. In a minority of teens, however, the evidence shows the drugs do increase vulnerability to suicide.
More than 1 in 5 American adults now takes at least one type of medication to treat a psychological or behavioral disorder, a 22% rise since 2001, according to a new report by Medco Health Solutions, which monitors drug trends in insurance claims. Does that mean Americans are overmedicating their minds?