The Use of Antidepressant Drugs and the Lifetime Prevalence of Major Depressive Disorders in Italy

Mauro Giovanni Carta*, , Eugenio Aguglia**, Alberto Bocchetta, Matteo Balestrieri***, Filippo Caraci**, Massimo Casacchia°, Liliana Dell’Osso°°, Guido Di Sciascio°°°, Filippo Drago**, Carlo Faravelli#, Maria Efisia Lecca, Maria Francesca Moro, Pier Luigi Morosini##, Marcello Nardini°°°, Gabriella Palumbo##, Maria Carolina Hardoy

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Creative Commons License
© Carta et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Public Health, University of Cagliari, Italy; Tel: +39 335 499994; Fax: +39 070496294; E-mail:
University of Cagliari
** University of Catania
*** University of Udine
° University of L ’Aquila
°° University of Pisa
°°° University of Bari
# University of Florence
## National Institute of Health, Rome



The increased use of antidepressant drugs (ADs) improved the response to the needs of care although some community surveys have shown that subjects without lifetime psychiatric diagnosis (anxiety/depression) used ADs.


To evaluate the appropriateness and amount of prescription of psychotropic drugs in people with lifetime diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) by means of community survey with a semi-structured interview as a diagnostic instrument, administered by clinicians.


Study design: community survey.

Study population: samples randomly drawn, after stratification from the adult population of municipal records. Sample size: 4.999 people were drawn in 7 centres of 6 Italian regions.


questionnaire on psychotropic drug consumption, prescription, health services utilization; Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV modified (ANTAS); Training: interviewers were trained psychologists or medical doctors.


3.398 subjects were interviewed (68% of the recruited sample). The lifetime prevalence of DSM-IV MDD was 4.3% in males and 11.5% in females; antidepressant drugs were taken by 4.7% of subjects, 2.9% male and 5.9% female. 38% of males and 57% of females with lifetime diagnosis of MDD were taking ADs.


Compared with studies using lay interviewers and structured tools the prevalence of the MDD was quite lower; ADs use was higher and tallied well with the data regarding antidepressant sales in Italy; the correspondence between lifetime diagnosis of MDD and ADs use was closer.

Keywords: Antidepressant drugs, major depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, community survey, lifetime prevalence.