One in 6 Americans Take Antidepressants, Other Psychiatric Drugs

More than 16 percent of Americans take some kind of psychiatric drugs—mostly antidepressants, researchers reported Monday, according to an NBC News report.

The study also showed that twice as many white people take those drugs as do African-Americans or other minorities, and fewer than 5 percent of Asian-Americans do. In addition, most people who take them are taking them long-term. The researchers used the 2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey covering 37,000 people for their study.

Thomas Moore of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Alexandria, Virginia, the study’s lead researcher, noted: “Overall, 16.7 percent of 242 million U.S. adults reported filling one or more prescriptions for psychiatric drugs in 2013.” 

The study revealed that 12 percent took antidepressants; 8.3 percent took anxiety drugs, sedatives or sleeping pills, and 1.6 percent took antipsychotic medication. The study just looked at the numbers and didn't look at why people are taking the drugs. But Moore expressed concern that so many people were taking habit-forming drugs, such as Valium or Xanax, long-term.

"Most psychiatric drug use reported by adults was long term, with 84.3 percent having filled three or more prescriptions in 2013 or indicating that they had started taking the drug during 2011 or earlier."

Earlier this year, researchers reported the death rate from overdoses of such anxiety drugs had quadrupled in the U.S. Researchers have said there might be problems with primary care physicians prescribing these drugs, because they might not fully understand the risks.

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