The number of people over age 6 taking antidepressants nearly doubled between 1996 and 2005, according to research published in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, a journal of the American Medical Association.

In an analysis of medical surveys conducted in 1996 and 2005 covering more than 40,000 people, the authors found that the rate of antidepressant use increased from 5.84 percent to 10.12 percent.

Meanwhile, people taking antidepressants were more likely to also be taking antipsychotic medications in 2005 but less likely to be undergoing psychotherapy.

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“Together with an increase in the number of antidepressant prescriptions per antidepressant user (an average of 5.6 vs. 6.93 per year), these broad trends suggest that antidepressant treatment is occurring within a clinical context that places greater emphasis on pharmacologic rather than psychologic dimensions of care,” the authors write.

There are several factors that could be responsible for the rise in antidepressant use, the authors say. One reason may be that depression may have become more common. Or, the increase in the number of available antidepressants and the uses for which they are considered applicable may have also played a role.