Prevalence of depression diagnoses and use of antidepressant medications by veterans with spinal cord injury

Bridget M. Smith*, Frances M. Weaver, Philip M. Ullrich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to examine the prevalence of depression diagnoses among veterans with spinal cord injuries and disabilities (SCI&D) for a 3-yr period, and to characterize patterns of antidepressant medication use in this population. DESIGN: This study was a retrospective analysis of clinical and administrative data. The sample consisted of 3678 veterans with SCI&D who had received any health care at a Department of Veterans Affairs facility between fiscal years 1999 and 2001, a depression diagnosis, and complete data. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine associations between patient characteristics, antidepressant types, and prescription patterns. RESULTS: Approximately 22% of veterans with SCI&D received a diagnosis of depression during at least one encounter with a healthcare provider. Of those diagnosed, 72% received antidepressant prescriptions. However, a large percentage (67%) did not continue antidepressant use for 6 mos. Patients started on a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor were more likely to have at least 6 mos of continuous use than patients started on other, newer antidepressants. CONCLUSIONS: Many veterans with SCI&D may not be receiving adequate treatment for depression. Veterans with SCI&D should be aggressively screened and treated for depression, and further research is necessary to determine which treatments for depression are most effective for persons with SCI&D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)662-671
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Antidepressants
  • Depression
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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