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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2011 Mar;45(3):249-60. doi: 10.3109/00048674.2010.531459.

Correlates of antidepressant and anxiolytic, hypnotic or sedative medication use in an Australian community sample.

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School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, Australia.



To explore the rates and correlates of antidepressant (AD) and anxiolytic, hypnotic or sedative (AHS) medication use in Australia, and describe possible reasons for their use.


Analysis of data from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, a nationally representative household survey of 8841 Australians aged 16 to 85 years. Two primary outcome variables: (i) use of any AD medication; and (ii) use of any AHS medication, in the past 2 weeks.


Rates of AD and AHS medication use were 6.8% and 4.7% respectively. AD and AHS medication use were each associated with 12-month affective or anxiety disorder, age, chronic physical illness, sleep difficulties, and impaired role functioning. Psychological distress and lifetime affective or anxiety disorder or 12-month symptoms were associated with AD use; being previously married was associated with AHS use. Potential reasons for use are complex. Almost one third (30.6%) of AD users and half (49.2%) of AHS users did not report symptoms consistent with a 12-month or lifetime affective or anxiety disorder. Chronic physical illness was reported by 68.8% of AD users and 73.5% of AHS users, around half of whom had a 12-month mental disorder. People with mental-physical comorbidity had especially high rates of AD and AHS use. People with musculoskeletal and other conditions that may involve chronic pain had elevated rates of AD and AHS use, even in the absence of a mental disorder.


Low rates of medication use in younger adults and high rates of AHS use in older people warrant further investigation. Many AD and AHS users were not assessed as having an affective or anxiety disorder, suggesting that these medications are frequently used for other indications. Findings call for further research to explore the relationship between mental disorders, physical conditions and medication use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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