Despite No Change in Depression Prevalence, Proportion of Seniors Taking Antidepressants More Than Doubles

Close up of unrecognizable senior person taking aspirin with glass of water.
No change was seen in prevalence of depression from 1990-1993 to 2008-2011.

HealthDay News — Across two decades, there was an increase in the proportion of older adults taking antidepressants, although the prevalence of depression did not change significantly, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Antony Arthur, Ph.D., from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined changes in the prevalence of depression and antidepressant use across two decades in people aged 65 years and older. Data were included for the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS I and CFAS II), with baseline measurements conducted between 1990 and 1993 and between 2008 and 2011. In CFAS I, 7635 people were interviewed and 1457 were diagnostically assessed; in CFAS II, 7762 people were interviewed and diagnostically assessed.

Related Articles

The researchers found that the age-standardized prevalence of depression was 6.8 percent in CFAS II, representing a nonsignificant decline from 7.9 percent in CFAS I (adjusted risk ratio, 0.82; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.64 to 1.07; P = 0.14). There was an increase in the proportion of the population taking antidepressant medication, from 4.2 percent in CFAS I to 10.7 percent in CFAS II (adjusted risk ratio, 2.79; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.96 to 3.97; P < 0.0001). The prevalence of depression was unchanged among care home residents, but antidepressant use increased from 7.4 to 29.2 percent.

“Over two decades, substantial increases in access to antidepressant medication do not appear to be associated with change in prevalence of late life depression,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)