Affective and anxiety disorders prevalence not aligned with antidepressant use

January 01, 0001

Affective and anxiety disorders prevalence not aligned with antidepressant use

The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and treatment of affective and anxiety disorders in adults in Australia and compare these with the dispensed prescriptions of drugs used to treat these disorders. Analysis was done of the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing regarding 12 month prevalence and treatment for affective and anxiety disorders and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescribing data for antidepressants for 2002-2007.

The prevalence and treatment of affective and anxiety disorder are highest in those aged less than 50, after which it declines rapidly. Rates for both are higher in women than men. Overall antidepressant use increased 41% over the study period (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors 44%, venlafaxine 75%). Sertraline held the majority of the market, followed by venlafaxine and citalopram. Utilization of antidepressants had a bimodal distribution with peaks in those aged in their late 50s and early 90s. The peak use of antidepressants was in those aged 90-94 years.

The researchers concluded: "There is poor alignment between the prevalence and self-reported treatment of affective and anxiety disorders in the community and the prescribing of medications for these disorders. It appears that older Australians are receiving antidepressant medications for reasons other than the treatment of conditions for which these drugs have marketing approval or for depressive and anxiety symptoms that do not reach the threshold for a diagnosis."

The use in the 90-94 age group does suggest other indications for prescribing.

For the full abstract, click here.

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 44(6):513-519, June 2010
© Informa Pic
Affective and anxiety disorders: prevalence, treatment and antidepressant medication use. Samantha A. Hollingworth, Philip M. Burgess and Harvey A. Whiteford. Correspondence to Samantha Hollingworth: [email protected]

Category: P. Psychological, HSR. Health Services Research. Keywords: affective disorders, anxiety disorders, antidepressants, medications, prevalence, treatment, prescribing data, survey analysis, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 11 June 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.