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The objective of this study was to evaluate the mode of prescription and the users of antidepressant agents. It consisted of an initial phase (survey of the general population), aimed at selecting a representative sample of antidepressants users by a mail questionnaire, without asking prescribers in order to avoid the bias inherent to such an approach. Results showed a current incidence of use of 2.75 % for the 8 main antidepressants, i.e. more than one million adults in France. The distribution of antidepressants showed Prozac in first place, followed by Anafranil, and Laroxyl, then Stablon, Athymil, Survector and Ludiomil. In more than 50 % of cases, antidepressants have been taken for a year or more, continuously of intermittently. They were prescribed by a general practitioner in 60 % of cases and a psychiatrist in 30 %. A second survey phase (telephone) undertaken by psychiatrists and involving a sample of this population enabled determination of the pathophysiological profile of consumers at the time of prescription of antidepressant treatment, using a validated diagnostic tool, the MINI. Taking all drugs together, results showed that prescription was within Marketing Authorization approved indications in about 65 % of cases (existence of depression 61 %, dysthymia 3 %, OCD 1 %). This study shows that, in 23 % of cases, antidepressants are not used in patients with one of the psychiatric diseases identified by the MINI but nevertheless suffering from pathophysiological symptoms (subsyndronic syndrome). It can be concluded that, in some subjects, antidepressants are used in non-identified disorders. It must also be recognized that, with 3 % of users, the population of individuals treated by antidepressants is less than that of patients suffering, in the general population, from depression (5 to 10 % per year, according to studies).


F Rouillon, C Blachier, J P Dreyfus, M Bouhassira, M P Allicar. Pharmaco-epidemiologic study of the use of antidepressant drugs in the general population]. L'Encéphale. 1996 May;22 Spec No 1:39-48

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PMID: 8767026

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