OBJECTIVE: To compare antidepressant utilization in individuals aged 5-19 years from the Scandinavian countries.
METHODS: A population-based drug utilization study using publicly available data of antidepressant use from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
RESULTS: In the study period from 2007 to 2017, the proportion of antidepressant users increased markedly in Sweden (9.3-18.0/1000) compared to Norway (5.1-7.6/1000) and Denmark (9.3-7.5/1000). In 2017, the cumulated defined daily doses (DDD) of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were 5611/1000 inhabitants in Sweden, 2709/1000 in Denmark, and 1848/1000 in Norway. The use of 'other antidepressants' (ATC code N06AX) also increased in Sweden with a higher DDD in 2017 (497/1000) compared to Denmark (225/1000) and Norway (170/1000). The use of tricyclic antidepressants was generally low in 2017 with DDDs ranging between 30-42 per 1000. The proportion of antidepressant users was highest among 15- to 19-year-old individuals. Girls were more likely to receive treatment than boys, and the treated female/male ratios per 1000 were similar in Sweden (2.39), Denmark (2.44), and Norway (2.63).
CONCLUSION: Even in highly comparable healthcare systems like the Scandinavian countries', variation in antidepressant use is considerable. Swedish children and adolescents have a markedly higher and still increasing use of antidepressants compared to Danish and Norwegian peers.