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The Mental Health Gender Gap: Women Far Exceed Men In Their Use Of Psychotropic Medications As Utilization Increases Among Both Sexes





WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Women far outpace their male counterparts when it comes to the consumption of mental health medications, with 25 percent using at least one psychotropic drug as compared to 15 percent of men.  These are findings from research by Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) that were presented Saturday at the 2012 Women's Health Congress.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100609/MEDCOLOGO )

The study reviewed the pharmacy claims of more than two million insured Americans and assessed the use of antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications and drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) between 2001 and 2010. 

"Some mental health medications such as antidepressants have historically been more widely used by women than men," said lead researcher, Dr. David Muzina, a psychiatrist and national practice leader of the Medco Neuroscience Therapeutic Resource Center®.   "However, what is surprising is how many women are taking these medications and the substantial increase in the number of women on treatments that have traditionally not been heavily used by females, like ADHD drugs." 

The research shows that antidepressants are by far the most commonly utilized psychotropic medication, with 21 percent of women on one of these drugs in 2010.  Both men and women's use increased about 29 percent from the start of the decade, but the number of men taking antidepressants remained about half that of women at 11 percent.

Women also trump men in utilization of anti-anxiety medications. Eleven percent of women ages 45-64 were on an anti-anxiety medication – nearly twice the rate (5.7 percent) of their male counterparts.

While far more boys than girls take ADHD medications, a higher number of women than men are utilizing them as adults.  Females aged 20-44 had the highest use among adults as their utilization rose a staggering 264 percent over the decade, as compared to a 188 percent increase for males the same age.   

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