Antidepressant revenues have doubled in 20 years

Antidepressant revenues have doubled in 20 years

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Increased use of antidepressants in people over 65 years of age

The number of elderly people taking antidepressants in the UK has more than doubled in two decades, although there has been no increase in the diagnosis of depression in the elderly.

The latest study by the University of East Anglia found that an increasing number of older people are taking antidepressants, even though they actually have no depressive symptoms. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "British Journal Of Psychiatry".

Many take antidepressants without suffering from depression

The majority of those over 65 years of age who take antidepressants have no real depressive symptoms, the researchers report. This raises concerns about whether the rate of prescribing the potentially addictive medication is too high. “There has been a significant increase in the proportion of the population reporting anti-depressant use for people over the age of 65 over two decades. However, there was no evidence of a change in the age-specific prevalence of depression, ”the researchers report in their study.

Sharp increase in antidepressant use noted

For the study, data from two groups, each with over 7,000 people over the age of 65 in England and Wales, were analyzed. The first group was examined between 1991 and 1993, the second group was examined between 2008 and 2011. It was found that the use of antidepressants rose from four percent to eleven percent in twenty years. Interestingly, the prevalence of depression among over 65-year-olds only dropped from 7.9 percent to 6.8 percent despite increasing prescription rates, the research group reports.

Quadruple rate of antidepressant use in nursing homes

The number of people in homes taking antidepressants has even quadrupled over the past two decades, from seven percent to 29 percent, the researchers report of developments in the UK. But the number of people with depression in nursing homes remained the same. Many affected people become addicted to the medication, which can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Older people need more support to get rid of the addictive medication, according to the research team.

Taking antidepressants for a long time makes it difficult to stop

People who take antidepressants regularly need better medical supervision. If patients have been taking antidepressants for a long time and there is no mental illness, they should talk to their doctor or their doctor about options for stopping the medication. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Antony Arthur, George M. Savva, Linda E. Barnes, Ayda Borjian-Boroojeny, Tom Dening et al .: Changing prevalence and treatment of depression among older people over two decades, in British Journal Of Psychiatry (query: 07.10.2019), British Journal Of Psychiatry

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