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Vol. 77, No. 2, 2008
Issue release date: January 2008
Psychother Psychosom 2008;77:83–92

Increase in Antidepressant Medication in the US Adult Population between 1990 and 2003

Mojtabai R.
Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, N.Y., USA

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Background: The rate of antidepressant treatment in the US has significantly increased in the past decade. There are, however, concerns about undertreatment among traditionally underserved groups and overtreatment in less severely ill individuals. This study examines trends in the prevalence of antidepressant drug treatment in two US general population surveys. Methods: The prevalence of antidepressant treatment within a 12-month period was compared in the US National Comorbidity Survey (1990–1992) and the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication (2001–2003). Variations in trends across groups were examined using bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models. Results: The rate of antidepressant drug treatment increased more than four times between early 1990s and early 2000s. The trend was similar across sociodemographic groups. Younger adults, men and racial/ethnic minorities continued to receive antidepressant treatment at a lower rate compared to middle-aged adults, women and non-Hispanic whites, respectively. The rate of antidepressant treatment increased more in the group of less severely ill individuals than in those with more severe psychopathology. Conclusions: Sociodemographic disparities in antidepressant treatment persisted over the last decade in the US, lending support to concerns about undertreatment among traditionally underserved groups, whereas the greater increase in the rate of antidepressant treatment in the less severely ill group lends support to concerns about antidepressant overtreatment in this population.

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