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J Korean Neurol Assoc. 2019 May;37(2):156-160. Korean. Original Article.
Park Y , Baek ES , Choi J , Lee J , Lee SH , Park KW .
Department of Neurology, Korea University Anam Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Pfizer Essential Health Korea, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Biostatistics, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


It is well known that patients with neurological disorders are vulnerable to depression. However, in Korea, National Health Insurance services had banned non-psychiatrists from prescribing antidepressants for more than 2 months until January 2017. Now, neurologists are able to prescribe antidepressants to patients with only four neurological disorders. Due to this recent change in national health insurance policy, there will be a large change in the prescription pattern of antidepressants. In this study, we performed an analysis of antidepressant prescription patterns in Korea prior to this recent policy change.


The source population of this retrospective cohort study is the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service database. We analyzed the claim database for patients who have one of four major neurologic disorders and had healthcare documentation submitted by healthcare providers between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2016.


During 2012–2016, antidepressant prescription rates of 6.21% (127,192 of a total 2,048,165 patients), 9.93% (81,861 out of 824,290), 10.12% (173,582 of 1,714,776), and 13.36% (48,530 of 363,347) were found for cerebrovascular disease, epilepsy, dementia, and Parkinson's disease respectively. The most frequently prescribed antidepressant in cerebrovascular disease and epilepsy was tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). In Parkinson's disease and dementia, the most frequently used antidepressant was selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.


The overall prescription rate of antidepressants was much lower than the estimated rates reported in other countries. TCAs were the primarily prescribed antidepressant. It is now expected that TCAs will be replaced by newer antidepressants.

Copyright © 2019. Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors.