Anti-depressant prescriptions for young women up 20% since pandemic
The number of young women with a GP prescription for anti-depressants increased by almost 20 percent in the past two years. More young men (11 percent) are also on anti-depressants since the pandemic, according to a study by research institute Nivel. Although coronavirus restrictions have disappeared, anti-depressants use hasn’t dropped back down again, Trouw reports.
About a million Netherlands residents are prescribed anti-depressants every year. The use of anti-depressants to treat anxiety and depression has increased slightly in all age groups since the second coronavirus lockdown at the end of 2020. The Nivel researchers called the significant increase (16 percent) among young people aged 15 to 24 particularly striking.
“More anti-depressants among this group is an important point of attention and worry,” researcher Karin Hek said to Trouw. In 2021, 221 out of 100,000 young people were prescribed this medication by their GP weekly. The researchers didn’t say GPs are over-prescribing anti-depressants but that the increased need for them is worrying.
The most significant cause behind the increase seems to be the coronavirus pandemic, but the use of anti-depressants did not decrease once restrictions disappeared. “Other social problems such as finding affordable housing and rising inflation may play a role, but further research will have to show that,” said Hek.
The fact that more young women than young men take anti-depressants can have various causes, Hek said. “Especially young women visited their GP more often for anxiety and depression in 2021. The fact that young men did not do this can also mean that they did not report their symptoms.” It is also known that depression is more common in women than men.
Nivel advised general practitioners to pay close attention to the psychological consequences of the pandemic even now that no restrictions are in place.