use has nearly doubled in the U.S, according to a new study.
Meanwhile, the use of psychotherapy by those prescribed the antidepressants has declined during the same period studied, from 1996 to 2005.
The study appears in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
For the 1996 survey, nearly 19,000 people aged 6 and older were included, and more than 28,000 in the 2005 survey. A designated adult in each household answered questions about prescribed medications, medical visits, and other information.
The rate of antidepressant treatment increased from 5.84% to 10.12 % -- or from 13 million people to about 27 million, the researchers found.
One exception to the trend involved African-Americans. "African-Americans really did stand out as one group that didn't experience a significant increase in antidepressant use," Olfson says. In 1996, 3.6% of African-Americans surveyed were on antidepressants and 4.5% in 2005.
Another important finding, Olfson says, is that fewer people on antidepressants surveyed in 2005 also took part in psychotherapy or "talk therapy." Although 31.5% of those surveyed in 1996 on antidepressants also did talk therapy, just 19.8% of those surveyed in 2005 both took antidepressants and participated in psychotherapy.
Often, the two are recommended together for depression.
The researchers say a number of factors explain the increasing use of antidepressants. "There has been broad and growing acceptance of antidepressant medicine in the U.S.," Olfson tells WebMD.
Other factors explaining the increase, according to Olfson:
- Major depression is more common. Two surveys found the prevalence of major depression in adults rose from 3.3% in 1991-1992 to 7.1% in 2001-2002.
- Since 1996, several new antidepressants have come on the market.
- Clinical guidelines support the use of antidepressants for conditions other than depression, such as anxiety disorders.