ATLANTA — Roughly 1 in 25 adolescents in the United States are taking antidepressants, according to a new government study billed as the first to offer such statistics on that age group.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reported the figure for kids ages 12 to 17. It's based on surveys and depression screenings of about 12,000 U.S. adolescents and adults during the years 2005 through 2008.
The study found about 1 in 10 adults take antidepressants. And perhaps more should: The researchers said only one third of people in the study with symptoms of depression were taking medication.
The finding suggests that "there's a lot of people who are seriously ill who aren't getting treated," said Laura Pratt, the CDC epidemiologist who led the research.
Curiously, rates of antidepressant use were about the same in different income groups, even though earlier research had shown higher rates of depression among the poor, Pratt noted.
The researchers don't know why that is, but other experts have noted that poor people may have less access to medical services and doctors who prescribe the drugs. Also, some people may think they can get over depression themselves or don't want to be labeled as depressed.
Women take antidepressants more than men, and whites use them more than blacks or Mexican-Americans, the study also found.
Also, more than 60 percent of Americans taking antidepressants have been taking a medication two years or longer, and 14 percent have been taking such a drug for 10 years or more.
CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs