In 2005–2008, 11% of Americans aged 12 and over took antidepressant medication. There were significant differences in antidepressant medication usage rates between groups. Females were 2½ times as likely as males to take antidepressants. Antidepressant use was higher in persons aged 40 and over than in those aged 12–39. Non-Hispanic white persons were more likely to take antidepressants than other race and ethnicity groups. Other studies have shown similar age, gender, and race and ethnicity patterns (2,3). There was no variation in antidepressant use by income group. Among persons taking antidepressants overall, there was no significant difference in length of use between males and females. Among persons taking antidepressants, males were more likely than females to have seen a mental health professional in the past year. About 8% of persons aged 12 and over with no current depressive symptoms took antidepressant medication. This group may include persons taking antidepressants for reasons other than depression and persons taking antidepressants for depression who are being treated successfully and do not currently have depressive symptoms.Slightly over one-third of persons aged 12 and over with current severe depressive symptoms were taking antidepressants. According to American Psychiatric Association guidelines, medications are the preferred treatment for moderate to severe depressive symptomatology (4). The public health importance of increasing treatment rates for depression is reflected in Healthy People 2020, which includes national objectives to increase treatment for depression in adults and treatment for mental health problems in children (5).
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