Over 27 Million Americans On Antidepressants


depressed1Use of antidepressant drugs in the United States doubled between 1996 and 2005, probably because of a mix of factors, researchers reported today.About 6 percent of people were prescribed an antidepressant in 1996 — 13 million people. This rose to more than 10 percent or 27 million people by 2005, the researchers found.

“Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all sociodemographic groups examined, except African Americans,” Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University in New York and Steven Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

“Not only are more U.S. residents being treated with antidepressants, but also those who are being treated are receiving more antidepressant prescriptions,” they added.

More than 164 million prescriptions were written in 2008 for antidepressants, totaling $9.6 billion in U.S. sales, according to IMS Health.

Drugs that affect the brain chemical serotonin like GlaxoSmithKline’s <GSK.L> Paxil, known generically as paroxetine, and Eli Lilly and Co’s <LLY.N> Prozac, known generically as fluoxetine, are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant. But the study found the effect in all classes of the drugs.

Olfson and Marcus looked at the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys done by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, involving more than 50,000 people in 1996 and 2005.

“During this period, individuals treated with antidepressants became more likely to also receive treatment with antipsychotic medications and less likely to undergo psychotherapy,” they wrote.


The survey did not look at why, but the researchers made some educated guesses. It may be more socially acceptable to be diagnosed with and treated for depression, they said. The availability of new drugs may also have been a factor.

“Although there was little change in total promotional spending for antidepressants between 1999 ($0.98 billion) and 2005 ($1.02 billion), there was a marked increase in the percentage of this spending that was devoted to direct-to consumer advertising, from 3.3 percent ($32 million) to 12 percent ($122.00 million),” they added.

Dr. Eric Caine of the University of Rochester in New York said he was concerned by the findings. “Antidepressants are only moderately effective on population level,” he said in a telephone interview.

Caine, who was not involved in the research, noted that several studies show therapy is as effective as, if not more effective than, drug use alone.

“There are no data to say that the population is healthier. Indeed, the suicide rate in the middle years of life has been climbing,” he said.

Olfson and Marcus said out-of-pocket costs for psychotherapy and lower insurance coverage for such visits may have driven patients away from seeing therapists in favor of an easy-to-prescribe pill.

The rise in antidepressant prescriptions also is seen despite a series of public health warnings on use of antidepressant drugs beginning in 2003 after clinical trials showed they increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and teens.

In February 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added its strongest warning, a so-called black box, on the use of all antidepressants in children and teens.

{Reuters/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Ugh. Whenever something gets overdiagnosed, both the ones who could do without the meds, and the ones who truly need them. It goes without saying, though, that the pharmaceuticals win big time!

  2. uh huh, so 27,000,000 people in the US (blacks, Indians, Chinese, Moslems, and other nationalities) are all suffering from the learning gap too?

    I made the comment based on something someone said a few weeks ago that the reason for so many depressed people is because of the learning gap. My point here was that there are a lot of factors and this generation is more prone to depression, so you can’t blame it on one factor.
    These people are from all economical factors, nationalities and situations- when it’s such a huge number you see it’s a machlah of our generation.

  3. If you are thinking of taking anti-depressants, please be sure to know the side effects first…And if you are going to therapist please remember that despite their sweet talk about being a ‘concerned professional’ or other altruistic claims ,by most of them their main interest is to keep you a client as long as possible, and NOT to help you more then keeping you as a client requires.Without going into details I’m speaking form experience.I was going through a difficult life period and took the advice of many Frum publications which regard therapists etc. as the cure to all problems, until I realized that other giving me a chance to vent they were only making things worse.Kabdeyhu VChasdeyu

  4. This shows that despite all the ‘pursuit of happiness’ going on in America, many people are profoundly depressed. It is not surprising if people that don’t have direction in life, no divine teachings to guide them, etc., end up that way, if sad.

    The question a site like this should focus on is if there has such a big increase in antidepressant use among the frum community as well. I believe there has been such a thing. Which leads us to the question of what are we doing wrong? Proper shemiras haTorah should make people happy or at least not profoundly depressed. If that is not the case, it is often indicative of problems in observance, such as doing things mechanically, mitzvas anoshim melumodoh, or otherwise doing things improperly, in which case observance can chas vesholom become a burden rather than a source of strength and happiness.

    We should try to address such problems from within our holy tradition, rather than take pills, which a) don’t really solve the problem, b) can have serious side effects, 3) enrich giant pharmaceutical companies, which have their own bottom line in mind.

  5. there are wedding takonos because it is causing poverty. would you argue that millions of indians are poor even though they dont make lavish weddings? No one is saying that the learning gap is the only cause. Just it is a cause.

  6. I’d like to see the studies shown about the economics of those on antidepressants. If I’m allowed to bring Michael Jackson on this website-he was so depressed/anxious (or whatever), he needed a doctor to administer high doses of anesthesia to put him to sleep at night. Until he squandered his money, he was the wealthiest of the wealthy but that didn’t keep him happy either.

    Lack of money is not the only cause- many wealthy people are depressed. And many poor people are happy and content.
    (Actually you’ll never know how many frum people take pills but it seems that there are a lot, probably less than the goyish population, but nonetheless more than people might realize- it’s just that frum community hides it better.)