The majority of people taking antidepressant medications have never had major depressive disorder, and 38% have never met criteria for having any mental disorder, according to a study in Baltimore published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers reviewed data from the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area from 1981 to 2005. They then assessed lifetime prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders among participants who reported current antidepressant use.
From 1,071 people, 13% in 2004-5 reported currently using antidepressant medications. “Among antidepressant users, 69% never met criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD),” stated the researchers. “And 38% never met criteria for MDD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder in their lifetime.”
“Many individuals who are prescribed and use antidepressant medications may not have met criteria for mental disorders,” they concluded. “Our data indicate that antidepressants are commonly used in the absence of clear evidence-based indications.”
Takayanagi, Yoichiro, Adam P. Spira, O. Joseph Bienvenu, Rebecca S. Hock, Michelle C. Carras, William W. Eaton, and Ramin Mojtabai. “Antidepressant Use and Lifetime History of Mental Disorders in a Community Sample: Results From the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study.” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, January 28, 2015, 40–44. doi:10.4088/JCP.13m08824. (Abstract)