News from the FDA/CDC

Antidepressant use shows gender, racial disparities


Women are more than twice as likely as men to use antidepressants, and use among White women is at least double that of other races/ethnicities, according to a new analysis from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Adults who used an antidepressant in the past 30 days

Here are the actual numbers: 17.7% of women and 8.4% of men used an antidepressant in the 30 days before being interviewed for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Put them together, and it works out to 13.2% of all adults over the 4-year period from 2015 to 2018, Debra J. Brody, MPH, and Qiuping Gu, MD, PhD, said Sept. 4 in an NCHS data brief.

The racial/ethnic differences in antidepressant use were even greater, at least for women. Non-Hispanic White women had a past-30-day prevalence of 22.3%, compared with 10.0% for non-Hispanic Black women, 3.4% for non-Hispanic Asian women, and 8.9% for Hispanic women, based on the NHANES data.

The order was the same for men, but the numbers are lower. Non-Hispanic Whites had the highest antidepressant use at 10.5%, followed by non-Hispanic Blacks (5.0%), non-Hispanic Asians (2.1%), and Hispanics (4.0%). All of the differences between Whites and non-Whites were significant for both women and men, the researchers noted.

A look at trends over time shows that the gap between men and women has widened in the last 10 years. Past-30-day use among women went from 13.8% in 2009-2010 to 18.6% in 2017-2018, with a corresponding increase from 7.1% to 8.7% in men. For women, that change was significant; for men, it was not, Ms. Brody and Dr. Gu said.

The sample size averaged just over 6,000 for each of the five 2-year NHANES cycles included in the analysis. The survey includes a household interview and a physical examination at a mobile exam center.

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