Do antidepressants lead to chronic use?
Data from Netherlands point to the chronic use of antidepressant drugs in general practice in a study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Antidepressant use is highly prevalent. Research has mainly focused on efficacy during short periods of use for depression and anxiety. There is a relative paucity of data regarding the frequency of long-term use.
To determine the prevalence and possible increase of long-term use of antidepressants over recent years, Authors analyzed routine general practice care data in a large cohort of patients (n = 156,620) in and around Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Results highlighted a substantial prevalence of long-term use of antidepressants. In addition, such use appears to be increasing: 30.3% of use was long-term over the period 1995-2005 compared to 43.7% for the period 2005-2015. Higher age, a registered diagnosis of anxiety or depression, and the use of SSRIs or SNRIs were associated with long-term use of antidepressant drugs. Furthermore, specific antidepressants were differentially associated with long-term use.
Authors concluded that long-term antidepressant use is substantial and appears to be on the rise. Awareness of this phenomenon should be increased, such use should be prevented when possible, and reasons for long-term use need to be examined.