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Biol Psychiatry. 2001 Jun 15;49(12):1121-7.

Services and prevention: pharmacoepidemiology of antidepressant use.

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Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, University of Maryland, Baltimore 21201, USA.


Between 1988 and 1994, data from 3 large sites revealed a 3-5 fold increase in the prevalence of antidepressant (ATD) treatment for U.S. youths aged 2-19 years. In 1994, the ATD prevalence for youths of this age ranged from 13 per 1000 (in the HMO) to 18 per 1000 (in 2 state Medicaid systems). Males predominated in the 10-14-year-olds treated with ATDs, whereas females predominated among 15-19-year-olds. Caucasians were more than twice as likely to receive ATD therapy than their African-American counterparts. Primary care providers were the major source of ATD prescriptions for youths. The leading diagnoses in primary care were ADHD followed by depression, whereas the diagnostic order was reversed for youths who received psychiatric services. This review provides details concerning these patterns and trends in ATD treatment of youths from community-based clinical data sources. In addition, the role of these data in an expanded, comprehensive psychotropic knowledge base is discussed. Finally, the implications of an expanded knowledge base for ATD treatments are discussed in regard to generating research questions on effectiveness and safety and to improve treatment consensus within a public-health perspective.

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