Experts have urged for a quick intervention to create new strategies to optimise the use of antidepressants (AD) among people, following a steep rise in their consumption during Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest call for action on the use of ADs follows a recent research by the University of Huddersfield which highlighted the urgent need to reduce an alarming rise in the use of the dosage and consumption frequency.

The open-access study, published by the international DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, is entitled ‘Surging trends in prescriptions and costs of antidepressants in England amid Covid-19’ and has investigated the trends in prescriptions and costs of various antidepressants in England during the pandemic.

The researchers discovered that the total number of antidepressant prescriptions drugs dispensed during 2020 had increased by four million items since 2019 costing NHS England £139m more than in the previous year.

Sertraline, an SSRI antidepressant drug, alone accounted for an extra £113m during 2020 than in 2019. The peak dispensing for ADs was observed in March 2020 while the total costs for AD drugs peaked in April 2020, the research showed.

Dr Hamid Merchant from the University of Huddersfield said that these findings were particularly important in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Observational data suggest that young adults, up to 25 years of age, were impacted by the mental health issues during the pandemic, and hence, were more likely to use antidepressants.

“It is, therefore, important to optimise the safe use of antidepressants, particularly in young adults. Not only to help with mental health but also in preventing the associated side-effects that may further increase the morbidity and mortality associated with depression in younger adults.”

The study also observes a meta-analysis of 100,000 patients using antidepressants which concluded that the risk of suicide doubled in children and adolescents.

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