1 in 5 US Adults Takes Medication for Mental Disorder


stressed-out-depressedMedications to treat mental health disorders is soaring among U.S. adults, according to data released Wednesday by Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager.

Twenty percent of all adults said they took at least one medication to treat a mental disorder. Among women, 25% said they took such medication and 20% said they were using an antidepressant.

The survey analyzed prescription drug trends among 2.5 million insured Americans from 2001 to 2010.

Medco researchers also found that adults ages 20 to 44 had the greatest uptick in use of anti-anxiety medications, atypical antipsychotics and drugs to treat ADHD. The number of women on ADHD medications was 2.5 times higher in 2010 than in 2001.

The number of children under 10 taking antipsychotic medication, which is reserved for the most severe mental illnesses, doubled from 2001 to 2010.

There was a stark drop in use of antidepressants among those 19 and under, however. Usage has fallen since a 2004 warning from the Food and Drug Administration that the drugs could increase suicidal thoughts. Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication among people 65 and older also fell over the last decade.

Reasons behind the growing popularity of medications for mental illness is debatable. Understanding the upswing “is the next critical goal,” Dr. Martha Sanjatovic, a professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, said in a statement released by Medco.

Said Dr. David Muzino of the Medco Neuroscience Therapeutic Research Center: “[W]hat is not clear is if more people – especially women – are actually developing psychological disorders that require treatment, or if they are more willing to seek out help and clinicians are better at diagnosing these conditions than they once were.”

But, he noted, it was a tough decade: the 9/11 attacks, two wars and a deep recession.

{The Los Angeles Times/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. If mental illness is so prevalent in our community, it would be really appreciated if the Jewish publications would include reading material covering mental illness. They would do a real toeles haklal, as this topic comes with a stigma, so people don’t feel comfortable discussing it in public.

  2. There are less people being hospitalized, probably, because of all the meds available now. We need to find ways to be less stressed, individually and as a society. Some mental illness is genetic and less preventable.

  3. #2 It would be nice if everyone, including woman could understand what it says there. I happen to have gone to a chasidishe school and am not very fluent in loshon kodesh(sorry)…maybe someone can interpret in short what it says there. I’d be interested in knowing. thanks

  4. fo # 7:
    Hamodia for a while had many weeks of articles on mental disorders. I’m not sure why they stopped it. The articles were very enlightening, if not scary. But they were open and written well.

    If you want more articles on it, write to them and ask why they stopped them.

  5. To #7 and #11
    I think we need fewer articles on mental illness in frum publications, not more. Alternatively, we need articles on mental health from a Torah perspective, not a regurgitation of what the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries are peddling.

    I wrote one publication about their articles, protesting them. I said, “Your magazine is foisting a secular, psychological agenda on us frum readers, pushing the latest medical model of mental illness with medication as the solution. At the very least, we deserve to read another point of view, one which does not seek to bully us into stepping into line and saluting the pseudo-medical-interview-based approach. How about a Torah perspective on depression, anxiety, etc. Our holy sefarim are full of advice on how to deal with negative feelings. An overview of the Torah’s approach to the cholei nefesh would be greatly appreciated.”

  6. For #10

    The Avos D’Rabbi Nosson says, “Whoever places words of Torah on his heart (i.e. devotes himself to Torah study and takes them to heart), will have thoughts of the sword, thoughts of famine, foolish thoughts, immoral thoughts, thoughts from the Yetzer Hara, time-wasting thoughts, thoughts concerning the yoke of human beings, removed from him, as it says in Tehillim (19)written by Dovid Melech Yisrael: The instructions of Hashem are upright and gladden the heart; the mitzvos of Hashem are pure and give light to the eyes.

    And whoever does not place words of Torah on his heart, is given thoughts of the sword, thoughts of famine, foolish thoughts, immoral thoughts, thoughts from the Yetzer Hara, time-wasting thoughts, thoughts concerning the yoke of human beings