Objective: We estimated prescription psychotropic medication use among US adults.
Methods: We examined household interview data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994) for persons 17 years and older (n=20,050).
Study design and setting: An estimated 10 million adults (5.5%) reported psychotropic medication use during a 1-month period. The use of anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics (ASH) was most common (3.2%), followed by antidepressants (2.3%), antipsychotics (0.7%), and antimanics (0.1%). Psychotropic medication use was more prevalent among women than men (P<.001), non-Hispanic whites than non-Hispanic blacks (P<.001) and Mexican Americans (P<.001), and older rather than younger age groups (P<.001). Psychotropic medication use was also most common among those below the federal poverty level, those with no high school education, and among insured persons. Only 1% of adults used two or more psychotropic medications monthly.
Conclusion: Many adults use psychotropic medications on a monthly basis. ASH users comprised the largest proportion of psychotropic medication users. Patterns of use varied by several socio-demographic factors.