European Geriatric Medicine

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 551–555 | Cite as

Continuing versus new antidepressant use in older adults: US prescribing trends from 2006 to 2015

  • Taeho Greg Rhee
Brief Report



Antidepressant use has increased in older adults recently. This study examines the trends of antidepressant prescribing by prescription status (continuing vs. new prescriptions).


Data were collected from 2006 to 2015 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), a nationally representative sample of office-based outpatient visits. I limited the sample to adults aged 65 or older (n = 10,708 unweighted). Using a repeated cross-sectional design with survey sampling techniques, prevalence rates of antidepressant prescriptions were estimated by prescription status. Stratified analyses were also performed by key variables (e.g., age, gender, and race/ethnicity).


Continuing antidepressant prescriptions increased over time significantly (OR = 1.07; 95% CI, 1.03–1.11), and no temporal trend was found in new antidepressant prescriptions. In stratified analyses, the increasing trends of continuing antidepressant prescriptions were pronounced in visits to primary care physicians (OR = 1.06; 95% CI, 1.01–1.12).


Increasing antidepressant prescribing trends were found in continuing prescriptions. Continued antidepressant prescribing among older adults should be monitored for appropriate use.


Antidepressant Older adults Office-based care Prescribing patterns 



Dr. Rhee appreciates initial inputs from Dr. Olfson (Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons). Dr. Rhee also appreciates Dr. Pestka (University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy) for her critical feedback.

Author contributions

Dr. Rhee conceived the study, and acquired, analyzed, and interpreted the data, led the writing of the manuscript, and oversaw every aspect of the study.


The study received funding support from the National Institute on Aging of National Institutes of Health (#T32AG019134).

Compliance with ethical standards


Publicly available data were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Analyses, interpretation, and conclusions are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Division of Health Interview Statistics or NCHS of the CDC.

Role of the funder/sponsor

The funding agency had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript, and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he does not have a conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the authors. All research procedures performed in this study are in accordance with the ethical standards of the Institutional Review Board at Yale School of Medicine (#2000021850).

Informed consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© European Geriatric Medicine Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Geriatrics, Department of Internal Medicine, School of MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Yale Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale-New Haven HospitalNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems, College of PharmacyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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