Search

Rise in anti-depressants shows impact of lockdown on mental health

PUBLISHED: 17:40 29 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:47 03 August 2020

Lockdown has affected people's mental health, with March 2020 showing the highest number of items issued on record. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lockdown has affected people's mental health, with March 2020 showing the highest number of items issued on record. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

The number of antidepressants prescribed across the East of England was 11pc higher at the beginning of lockdown than the previous year, figures have shown.

Norfolk's clinical commissioning groups have seen a high number of antidepressant prescriptions per 1000 registered patients, with North Norfolk's figure the highest in the East of England. Picture: Getty ImagesNorfolk's clinical commissioning groups have seen a high number of antidepressant prescriptions per 1000 registered patients, with North Norfolk's figure the highest in the East of England. Picture: Getty Images

According to OpenPrescribing.net, 749,000 antidepressant drug items were given out to patients in the East of England in March 2019.

But in March 2020, when lockdown was imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, this number increased to 832,413.

And according to data provided by Echo - Lloyd’s Pharmacy’s online repeat prescription service - the four areas with the highest proportion of antidepressant prescriptions across the Midlands and East of England were all in Norfolk.

As of March 2020, 218 antidepressant prescriptions were issued per 1000 registered patients in North Norfolk - the highest number in the region

This was followed by 214 in West Norfolk, 188 in Norwich and 185 in Great Yarmouth.

Meanwhile, across England as a whole, 6,575,111 antidepressants were prescribed in March 2020 - the highest of any month on record.

Karl Trosclair, an artist who lives in Great Yarmouth, said his nervousness increased during lockdown.

You may also want to watch:

But he said focusing on his project, in which he raised £705 for the James Paget Hospital by auctioning off reworked newspaper headlines, helped keep him occupied.

Karl Trosclair's headline-grabbing artwork, and one of many that was auctioned off to raise funds for the NHS. He raised over £700 for the JPH, which saved his life when he was suffering from depression. Photo: Karl TrosclairKarl Trosclair's headline-grabbing artwork, and one of many that was auctioned off to raise funds for the NHS. He raised over £700 for the JPH, which saved his life when he was suffering from depression. Photo: Karl Trosclair

He said: “I had a great support network of friends who helped keep me sane during lockdown. But I could have easily started drinking again if I didn’t have anything to give me purpose.

“For those who are prone to depression, it’s obvious that lockdown would exacerbate all the fears and anxieties we struggle with regardless of a global pandemic.”

He added: “You’ve got to try and stay positive, as hard as that is.”

For Alistair Murray, chief pharmacist at Echo, the increase is likely to have been caused by a spike in repeat prescriptions among those who feared medications would run out and that they’d be faced with withdrawal symptoms.

However, he added that the numbers were likely to be higher again for May and June because of the pandemic’s impact on people’s health.

He said: “We know from mental health charity Mind that 60pc of adults and 68pc of young people have said their mental health worsened during lockdown.

“We will be revisiting the prescribing data for May and June once it becomes available as this will show the lasting impact of lockdown on mental health.”

READ MORE: Mental health services expect 20pc rise in demand due to Covid


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest from the Wymondham and Attleborough Mercury