Nationwide time trends in dispensed prescriptions of psychotropic medication for children and adolescents in Denmark

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2014 Mar;129(3):221-31. doi: 10.1111/acps.12155. Epub 2013 Jun 6.


Objective: The analysis of time trends in dispensed prescriptions of psychotropic medications for children and adolescents in Denmark.

Method: The entire data set of the Danish prescription register covering stimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytics used in children and adolescents over a 15-year time span from 1996 to 2010 was analyzed. Both non-adjusted age-standardized prevalence rates and adjusted age-standardized prevalence rates considering the increase in patient numbers over time were calculated, and time trends were assessed based on 105908 patient-years.

Results: For stimulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, the non-adjusted prevalence rates increased significantly. These trends were strongest for the stimulants. However, all adjusted prevalence rates were much lower with the anxiolytics even declining significantly. The prevalence rates of stimulants and antipsychotics were significantly higher among males than females, whereas females received significantly more antidepressants. The increase in prescription rates for both antidepressants and antipsychotics was mainly due to increased use among the 14- to 17-year-olds. Stratification by diagnoses revealed significantly increasing prevalence rates of dispensed antidepressants and antipsychotics in six major diagnostic indications.

Conclusion: Although increasing, the unadjusted Danish prevalence rates of dispensed prescriptions of psychotropics for children and adolescents are still lower than in many other Western countries.

Keywords: adolescents; antidepressives; antipsychotics; anxiolytics; children; psychopharmacology; stimulants.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants