April 29, 2024 at 12:42 pm

Study Finds Teenage Girls Take Far More Antidepressants Than Teenage Boys

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

You’re probably aware that today’s kids are struggling more with their mental health than any generation before them.

They’re also getting more help, both from traditional talk therapy and medication.

A recent study, though, reveals teen girls are far more reliant on antidepressants than their male counterparts.

The study was published in Pediatrics, and the authors make sure to say they don’t think these findings are due to teenage boys doing better mentally than girls.

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Instead, lead author Kao-Ping Chua says they fear boys have stopped getting the mental healthcare they need.

“In males, it’s theoretically possible that this reflects improved mental health, but I’m struggling with that explanation. Given that everybody’s mental health got worse, I would have expected that boys’ antidepressant dispensing would have at least remained stable, not decrease.”

In his personal pediatric practice, Chua says he’s seen less and less of the males coming in for any kind of checkup at all.

“There was something happening to make male adolescents not come in for mental health. They didn’t go to their doctors. They skipped physicals.”

The researchers drew these conclusions by studying data from the IQVIA Longitudinal Prescription Database, which stores information on medication prescriptions.

They were looking specifically at kids between the ages of 12 and 25, from 2016 to 2022.

Their “monthly antidepressant dispensing rate” is the monthly number of people being given medication per 100,000 people.

The overall monthly antidepressant dispensing rate increased by 66.3 percent overall between January 2016 and December 2022.

It increased rapidly during the pandemic shutdown in March of 2020.

Breaking these numbers down by gender is when experts began to feel worried. Because the antidepressants being prescribed to boys aged 12-17 actually declined during this period.

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They note that men aged 18-25 remained steady.

This seems wrong, because although women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression, American men are committing 80% of all suicides. 

If you’ve got a teenage boy, keep an eye on them.

And make sure you teach them from a young age that there is no shame in reaching out for help if you need it.

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