Headshot of Sandro Galea, M.D.

Antidepressant use has risen among U.S. women, with those aged 60 and older accounting for the highest rates, according to a new data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2009 to 2018, the percentage of adults who used antidepressants rose — but only among women, the agency reported. From 2015 to 2018, the overall rate of use within the last 30 days was approximately 18% for women and 8% for men, increasing with age for both groups. Rates were higher for women in every age group during that study period. At age 60 and older, 24% of women used antidepressants compared with 13% of men.

In other findings:

  • During 2018, nearly 7% of American adults experienced a major depressive episode.
  • Antidepressant use was higher for adults with some college education when compared with adults who had a high school education or less.
  • Antidepressants were used more by non-Hispanic white adults (16.6%) compared with non-Hispanic black (7.8%), Hispanic (6.5%) and non-Hispanic Asian (2.8%) adults.

In related news, researchers have linked the coronavirus pandemic to a three-fold increase in depressive symptoms in the United States. People most at risk from COVID-19 appear to be experiencing the greatest burden of depression, reported Sandro Galea, M.D., from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues. 

“Lower income, having less than $5,000 in savings, and having exposure to more stressors were associated with greater risk of depression symptoms during COVID-19,” the researchers wrote.