Antidepressant use among Americans has doubled between 1996 and 2005, a new study shows.
The study by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality surveyed more than 50,000 people.
Based on background information in the research, antidepressants are now the most widely used prescribed class of drugs in the U.S., an expansion dating back to the 1980s.
"This is a 20-year trend and it's very powerful," remarked Dr. Eric Caine, chair of the department of psychiatry and co-director of the Center for the Study of Prevention of Suicide at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Researchers found that about 13 million people were prescribed antidepressants in 1996.
That number rose to 27 million people by 2005.
Researchers said the reasons for the the increase could be because diagnosis and treatment of depression is more socially acceptable.
Availability of new antidepressant drugs could also be a factor for the rise in use.
Source: U.S. News and World Report