Rise in anti-depressants shows impact of lockdown on mental health
PUBLISHED: 17:40 29 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:47 03 August 2020
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.
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.
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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.
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.”
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