Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are using more anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, says a recent report published by Express Scripts.
Prescription rates for these medications was higher for female patients than male patients (39.6% compared to 22.7%). This surge in anti-anxiety medication in particular is an interesting finding, given the report also found benzodiazepine (common anxiety meds) usage over 2015-2019 to actually be on the decline (down 12.1%). The report comments on stricter prescribing guidelines surrounding these medications as being a big part of the decline in their prescription.
So, now with this surge in anxiety medications being prescribed (including benzodiazepines), what does this all mean? Some physicians are seeing the upswing over the past few months as positive, showing Americans are prioritizing their mental health and reaching out when they need help. There has also been a concurrent increase in the utilization of telehealth (including telepsychiatry) services, which further supports this notion. What will be important is that people getting these medications continue to be followed by their physicians. Benzodiazepines in particular, while highly effective, have great addictive potential and can be unsafe when used with certain medications or long-term.
At CalPsychiatry, our physicians can help assess your need for anxiety, depression, and/or insomnia medications. We also offer telepsychiatry services for your convenience and safety during this time. Call today for a medication consultation.