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April 10, 2002

Changes in the Treatment of Depression in the United States: 1987-1997

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Copyright 2002 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2002

JAMA. 2002;287(14):1803-1804. doi:10.1001/jama.287.14.1799

To the Editor: Dr Olfson and colleagues1 documented a 3-fold increase in the rate of outpatient treatment of depression, with significant increase in the use of antidepressant medication.

Isacsson2 documented that the increase in the prescription of antidepressants in Sweden after 1991 was accompanied by a decrease in the Swedish suicide rate. In light of this, it is interesting to note that the US suicide rate declined 10.2% from 19873 to 19974 (from 12.7 per 100 000 per year to 11.4 per 100 000). The decrease in the male suicide rate was 8.8% and the female suicide rate was 15.4%. Thus, the trends noted by Olfson et al may well be relevant to the recent reduction in the US suicide rate.

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