Utilization of antidepressants, anxiolytics, and hypnotics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tiger M, Castelpietra G, Wesselhoeft R, Lundberg J, Reutfors J

Transl Psychiatry 14 (1) 175 [2024-04-04; online 2024-04-04]

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been concerns over the mental health impact of COVID-19. This is a review of the utilization of antidepressants, anxiolytics, and hypnotics since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared on March the 11th 2020. A number of reports so far have been based on large prescription databases for administrative use at the national or regional level, but mainly in high-income countries. We found studies reporting increased prescription rates of antidepressants, anxiolytics, and hypnotics during March 2020, which has been interpreted as hoarding of such medications. In the following months, most studies of antidepressant prescription rates did not display a clear pattern of change compared with prepandemic trends. In later phases of the pandemic small increases in utilization of antidepressants, with higher than predicted prescription rates, have been the most consistent finding, especially in youth. In most high-income countries, there were increasing trends in utilization of antidepressants also before 2020, which needs to be considered when estimating utilization during the pandemic, whereas for anxiolytics and hypnotics, the prepandemic patterns of prescriptions were more varying. Overall, after March 2020 we could not find any distinct changes in the utilization of anxiolytics and hypnotics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most studies did not contain information about the prevalence of indicated psychiatric disorders in the studied populations. More studies are needed about the long-term effects of COVID-19, particularly regarding utilization of antidepressants. Research relating antidepressant utilization with the prevalence of major depression and anxiety disorders would promote a better understanding of how well antidepressant prescription rates reflect the needs of the population.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38575574

DOI 10.1038/s41398-024-02894-z

Crossref 10.1038/s41398-024-02894-z

pmc: PMC10995182
pii: 10.1038/s41398-024-02894-z

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