By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:59 PM on 17th November 2011
More than one in four American women took at least one drug for conditions like anxiety and depression last year, according to an analysis of prescription data.
The report, by pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions Inc, found the use of drugs for psychiatric and behavioral disorders in all adults rose 22per cent from 2001.
The medications are most often prescribed to women aged 45 and older, but their use among men and in younger adults climbed sharply.
On the rise: A bar graph showing the increase in the number of Americans using mental health medication between 2001 and 2010. There are considerably more women doing so than men
In total, more than 20per cent of American adults were found to be on at least one drug for mental health disorders.
A number of celebrities have gone public in recent years with their battles with mental health disorders.
They include Catherin Zeta-Jones, who was treated for a form of bipolar disorder earlier this year due to the stress of coping with her husband Michael Douglas's fight with cancer.
Model Brooke Shields admitted suffering postpartum depression after the birth of her baby in 2003, while fellow big screen icon Carrie Fisher, of Star Wars fame, told how she had turned to electroshock therapy to treat the worst symptoms of her chronic depression.
Needed help: Actress Catherin Zeta-Jones (left) was
treated for bipolar disorder earlier this year, while model and movie star
Brooke Shields revealed she had suffered from postpartum depression after
the birth of her daughter in 2003
Ends of the spectrum: Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, 54, turned to electroshock therapy to help treat her chronic depression, while Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD when he was nine years old
In adults 20 to 44, use of antipsychotic drugs and treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) more than tripled, while use of anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, Valium and Ativan rose 30per cent from a decade ago.
The statistics were taken from Medco's database of prescriptions and is based on 2.5million patients with 24 months of continuous prescription drug insurance and eligibility.
The company said women are twice as likely as men to use anxiety treatments as 11per cent of women 45 to 65 are on an anxiety medication.
Women are also more likely than men to take antipsychotic drugs like Zyprexa,
Risperdal, and Abilify, which treat disorders like bipolar disorder and
However, among men 20 to 64, use of the drugs has quadrupled over the last decade.
Geographical differences: In the 'diabetes belt' states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama, about 23per cent of people are on at least one mental health drug. The lowest rate is less than 15per cent
The sex divide: This graph shows how far more women used anti-depressant drugs last year compared to men
Dr David Muzina, a psychiatrist and national practice leader of Medco's Neuroscience Therapeutic Resource Center, said: 'There has been a significant uptick in the use of medications to treat a variety of mental health problems.
'What is not as clear is if more people — especially women - are actually developing psychological disorders that require treatment.
'Or (it might be) if they are more willing to seek out help and clinicians are better at diagnosing these conditions than they once were.'
Pharmaceutical companies have also sought and received approvals to market their drugs to larger groups of people.
Drugs for ADHD, which Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps was diagnosed
with when he was nine, are prescribed to boys more often than girls, but adult
women now take the drugs more often than men.
ADHD prescriptions to adult women grew 2.5 times from 2001. However, ADHD prescriptions for children have been declining since 2005.
That reflects a decline in prescriptions for psychiatric and behavioral drugs for children.
Worrying trend: There has been a sharp rise in the the percentage of Americans aged between 20 and 44 taking ADHD medication since 2001
Medco found that prescriptions of those drugs for children have dropped since 2004, when the FDA warned they were linked to suicidal thoughts when used in people under 19.
The company said less than 1per cent of children use antipsychotics drugs, although the figure has doubled since 2001.
In the 'diabetes belt' states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama, about 23per cent of people are on at least one psychiatric or behavioral disorder drug.
Diabetes is particularly widespread in those states and the condition is associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety disorders.
The lowest rate of prescriptions was found in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where less than 15 per cent of people are using those medications.