The proportion of people aged over 65 years in the UK who are on antidepressants has more than doubled in two decades, even though there has been little change in the number of older people diagnosed with depression. This is the finding of a new research led by the University of East Anglia.
The findings are based on data from the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS I and II), conducted at two time points - between 1990 and 1993 and between 2008 and 2011. In CFAS I, 7635 people aged ≥65 years were interviewed, of whom 1457 were diagnostically assessed. In CFAS II, 7762 people were interviewed and diagnostically assessed.
Age-standardised depression prevalence in CFAS II was 6.8 per cent (95% CI, 6.3-7.5%), representing a non-significant decline from CFAS I (risk ratio [RR], 0.82; 95% CI, 0.64-1.07; P=.14).
At the time of CFAS II, 10.7 per cent (95% CI, 10.0-11.5%) of the population were taking antidepressant medication, more than twice that of CFAS I (RR, 2.79; 95% CI, 1.96-3.97; P<.0001 among care home residents depression prevalence was unchanged but the use of antidepressants increased from per cent ci to>
The authors said: “It is unclear whether observed increases in treatment is a reflection of overdiagnosis, better recognition and prescribing, or the prescribing of antidepressant medication for conditions other than depression.”
The study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.