Sad News: Antidepressant Use Doubled in a Decade

Jumped to 10% from 1996 to 2005

By Scott Ross
|  Monday, Aug 3, 2009  |  Updated 9:57 PM EDT
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Sad News: Antidepressant Use Doubled in a Decade

Associated Press

Why so sad, America?

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The American people went into a deep depression from 1996 to 2005, causing them to ramp up their use of antidepressant at a dizzying rate, according to a new study.

Some 27 million people across the country went running for the shelter of their mother's little helper by 2005, up from 13 million, coinciding with a decrease in psychotherapy, reports lead author Mark Olfson of Columbia University in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Strangely, there was only one sector of the population that was immune to the collective malaise.

"Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all sociodemographic groups examined, except African Americans," wrote Olfson.

Hispanics, for their part on got only about half as sad as the country at large, with their pill popping jumping from 3.7 percent to 5.2 percent, a rise of only 40 percent.

Of course while the nation was sinking into a deep funk, big pharma was laughing all the way to the bank. Antidepressants bypassed high blood pressure meds as the top sellers in the country and by 2008, 164 million prescriptions for antidepressants rang up $9.6 billion in sales, reported Reuters.

So what caused the melancholy to descend upon the national psyche?

It "may involve the introduction of new antidepressants, the increase in the direct-to-consumer advertising, lessening stigma with seeking mental health care" and more admitting they're depressed, Olfson told Bloomberg News. "The reasons for this increase are not clear."

Whatever it is, it's really getting white folks down. 

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