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Antidepressant Use in the Absence of Common Mental Disorders in the General Population
Objective: To examine the prevalence of antidepressant use in the absence of lifetime mental disorders and to examine sociodemographic correlates, indicators of need (hospitalization, suicidal behavior, perceived need, subthreshold disorders, disability, traumatic events), and antidepressant characteristics of such use.
Method: Data came from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiologic Surveys (N = 20,013), a nationally representative cross-sectional sample of community-dwelling adults in the United States. Sociodemographic correlates and indicators of need were examined as predictors of past-year use of antidepressants in the absence of a lifetime DSM-IV diagnosis as assessed by the World Mental Health Composite Diagnostic Interview. The surveys were conducted between 2001 and 2003.
Results: Among individuals who took an antidepressant in the past year (n = 1,441), 396 (26.3%) did not meet criteria for any lifetime diagnosis assessed. Respondents taking antidepressants in the absence of a lifetime diagnosis tended to be older, white, and female. All indicators of need except past-year suicidal behavior were significant predictors (adjusted odds ratios ranging from 2.12 to 14.22, P < .001), with 89% of individuals taking antidepressants in the absence of a lifetime diagnosis endorsing at least 1 indicator of need. Individuals taking antidepressants in the absence of a DSM-IV disorder were more likely to have been prescribed these medications by family physicians or other doctors compared to psychiatrists.
Conclusions: These results suggest that antidepressant use among individuals without psychiatric diagnoses is common in the United States and is typically motivated by other indicators of need. These findings have important implications for the delivery of medical and psychiatric care and psychiatric nosology.
J Clin Psychiatry
Submitted: October 19, 2009; accepted May 10, 2010.
Online ahead of print: January 25, 2011 (doi:10.4088/JCP.09m05776blu).
Corresponding author: Jitender Sareen, MD, FRCPC, PZ430-771 Bannatyne Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3E 3N4 (firstname.lastname@example.org).