Using figures from the Ontario Ministry of Health, researchers examined the prevalence of antidepressant use in 1.4 million men and women 65 and older from 1993 to 1997. Overall, the number of women in the younger group – 65 to 69 – using antidepressants increased by 21 per cent from 1993 to 1997, compared to a 37 per cent increase for women 90 and older. For men, the respective increases were 25 per cent for the younger group and 46 per cent for the older group during the same time period. While antidepressant use was found to increase with age regardless of gender, women were 70 per cent more likely to use them.
“This may be good news for older people,” says Dr. Muhammad Mamdani, assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Toronto and associate scientist at the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences (ICES). “These figures suggest that physicians may actually be improving their detection and treatment of mental health disorders in the elderly and are becoming more comfortable with prescribing some of the newer antidepressant medications.”
Depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness in the aged, primarily due to circumstances that become more prevalent with aging such as disability, social isolation and economic impairment.
University of Toronto Press Release. December 13, 1999.