National Data on Teen Psychotropic Use Released

Caroline Cassels

December 05, 2013

Approximately 6% of US teens report psychotropic medication use.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), investigators led by Bruce Jonas, PhD, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), found that among US noninstitutionalized adolescents aged 12 to 19 years during the period from 2005 to 2010, 6.1% reported psychotropic medication use in the past month.

The percentages of psychotropic medication use by drug class were as follows: 3.2% for antidepressants; 3.2% for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications; 1.0% for antipsychotics; 0.5% for anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics; and 0.2% for antimaniacs.

Investigators report that males (4.2%) were more likely than females (2.2%) to report ADHD medication use, whereas females (4.5%) were more likely than males (2.0%) to report antidepressant use.

About 50% of adolescents reporting any psychotropic medication use in the past month had seen a mental health professional in the past year.

Depression and ADHD were the most common mental health disorders in this population. A total of 4.3% of adolescents experienced depression during any 2-week period from 2005 to 2006.

In addition, the results showed that 9.0% of children aged 5 to 17 years had ever been diagnosed with ADHD from 2007 to 2009.

The findings also showed that psychotropic drug use was higher among non-Hispanic white teens (8.2%) than non-Hispanic black (3.1%) and Mexican-American (2.9%) adolescents.

The authors report no relevant financial relationships.

NCHS Data Brief. 2013;135:1-7. Full article

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