General Question

occ's avatar

what percentage of Americans are on anti-depressants?

Asked by occ (4036points) March 3rd, 2008

And has this percentage changed substantially since it became legal to advertise for prescription drugs on TV?

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7 Answers

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Very good question. In the past 2 months, I have discovered that several of my friends are on anti-depressants. Most of them are on Lexapro. Side effects include suicidal thoughts. The past couple times Ive been to the doctor, they always try to push prescriptions on me instead of actually identifying the problem. The same seems to be true for people that are “depressed”. Im not saying that people arent depressed. but it seems that if you go to the doctor and say you feel down, you are not eating/sleeping properly, they will give you a pill to make you better. Everyone I talk to, says that Lexapro, makes them feel better, but it seems that they will be completely dependent on the pill, they will be on it for life, and will not learn how to deal with life’s problems.

If you take a look at the last few school shootings, they all involved antidepressants or anti-anxiety. I have never taken an antidepressant, but I have taken Xanax. The feeling I got from Xanax was a happy, nothing matters, I dont care attitude. Im not sure if antidepressants make you like that(i imagine they would), but I have a theory that suicidal thoughts and murder suicides, are a result of the nothing matters feeling from the pill. ex. “I dont care if I live or die”

With the pills being given out like candy and the possibility of universal health care coming to the US, I predict we will become, if we’re not already, a Soma nation. Read Brave New World to know what Soma is, but there are some scary comparisons to be made to modern day US and that book.

delirium's avatar

There are few things that make me more defensive than the misperceptions people have about Depression.
It IS a disease and not all medications for it are bad. I see people talk about all these ‘pushed perscriptions’ and quite frankly I think that whoever they’re going to != any sort of reputable psychiatrist. It took me years to be able to figure out my antidepressants. And no, depression isn’t an excuse for drugs. I hate when people say that. I spent years in the hospital for suicide attempts. I used to sit in class and slit my wrists because I couldn’t function because of my depression and my teachers refused to see what was wrong. They ignored the problem and instead blamed me. This is how they reacted even AFTER they were informed that I had the disease. I went from a straight A valedictorian to almost flunking out of high school… (There were no other changes in my life, either. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, I don’t party, I never have.) Don’t take out your perceptions of irresponsibility on the patients.

I agree that there are bad drugs out there, and I don’t think that things should be freely prescribed. The things I am on, however, took years to regulate and made me worse before I got significantly better. I can’t even begin to explain what it took me going through to get to the point that i’m at.

A responsible doctor will check back every two/three months and really focus on changes. A responsible patient should have people around them who can vouch for changes or who can state things that the patient is missing about themselves.
Personally I believe the blame lies in many areas… but I hate the misunderstanding that it causes. I would mostly blame irresponsible doctors listening to the drug companies too much. I’m lucky that I have a very medically based family that understands where to find me a responsible psychiatrist.

Its hard to focus my statements on something that has affected my life so strongly. The prejudice that comes along with it has also affected me. I’ve lost many friends over it. Ones who particularly thought that I was making excuses and who refused to see it as a legitimate disease.

I’m sure i’ll clarify this at a later point.


I don’t think that that any of this can be used as a defense against the idea of universal health care. It should be a reason FOR universal health care. It would lead to doctors actually having senses of their patients and wouldn’t lead to desperate people going to unfit facilities. The government should absolutely control the health care system… it could then be regulated. (Not to mention the many people I know who aren’t able to get health care who desperately need it.)

zina's avatar

I have read and heard very high statistics here and there (news articles, friends who are doctors mentioning it, etc) over the past couple years, and would also be very intrigued to find a reliable source of information on this.

annaott22's avatar

everyone in my family except for me and that depresses me. I have everything I could ever want or need because of my wonderful husband so nothing depresses me!

cwilbur's avatar

Depression is a disease, but antidepressants alone are a very poor solution. Used with a plan involving cognitive-behavioral therapy, they can be useful.

The problem is, pills are cheap and can be mass-produced and sold at a high profit, and cognitive-behavioral therapy is expensive and time consuming and requires one-on-one time with a therapist. Insurance companies are much happier paying for pills, and pharmaceutical companies are much happier with people who need “maintenance doses” of expensive pills, and the doctors are too harried to do much about either.

I had an unlivable situation about a year ago, and my doctor was concerned about my high blood pressure. When I told him it was in response to stress at work and the hell I had to deal with at that job, he offered to write me a prescription for antidepressants. I told him, in somewhat politer terms, to go fuck himself—my problem was not a chemical imbalance but an insane work environment, which became clear when I got out of it and stopped being stressed and depressed.

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Dan_DeColumna's avatar

”...Adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between 1988–1994 and 1999–2000. Ten percent of women 18 and older and 4 percent of men now take antidepressants…”

”...Three times as many white adults as black or Mexican adults took antidepressants…”


Considering that the female to male proportion is going to be approximately 50/50, then that averages out to about 7% of American Adults are on antidepressants as of 2000 according to this study.

If the rates have “almost tripled” then the original percentage was around 2.5% in 1988.


”...New research finds that 27 million Americans—more than 10 percent of the population—took antidepressant medications in 2005, double the number who reported taking such drugs in 1996, Reuters reported Aug. 3…”


So, according to that study, about 10 percent of the population was on antidepressants in 2005.

If its double what it was in 1996, then it was about 5% in 1996.

So, I figure roughly this:

1988: Approximately 2.5% of the population is on antidepressants, about 1 in 40.

1996: Approximately 5% of the population is on antidepressants, about 1 in 20.

2000: Approximately 7% of the population is on antidepressants, about 2 in 25.

2005: Approximately 10% of the population is on antidepressants, about 1 in 10.

2010: ???? I couldn’t find any literature stating the percentages one way or another, but looking at that pattern, it can’t be good.

In short, we keep getting unhappier as a society, we increasingly turn to pharmaceuticals as a cure, and it doesn’t look like those trends are going to reverse themselves any time soon.

Did I cheer everyone up? :-D

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