The age of two "epidemics": Loss of concentration and depression the price of COVID
Loss of concentration and depression, with antidepressant use in the US set to increase by 8,7% between 2019-2021
Although the true psychological toll of the pandemic will be known many years from now, data from the past two years shows that Americans have significantly increased their consumption of ADHD and depression pills. Scientists are talking about a new era in which depression meets the inability to concentrate (distracti-pression).
"I should have restarted the antidepressants in the early days of the pandemic," says Leah Bellow, a 36-year-old nurse and mother of two from Brooklyn. Bellow has been an occasional user of the anti-anxiety drug Prozac since her 20s. Shortly before the pandemic, she had stopped using it in time, in view of her first pregnancy. In August 2020, Bellow started Prozac again. "I am a different person today. I started the pills again because of COVID, but also because I'm a woman, a nurse, and because of my traumatic experience with my second birth," she explains.
The Brooklyn nurse is one of millions of Americans who have started or restarted psychiatric medication. According to data obtained by the New York Times, in 2019 15,8% of Americans were taking psychiatric medications. Surveys conducted during the pandemic showed that 25% of American adults had obtained prescriptions for drugs against depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue.
Antidepressants are still the most prescribed psychotropic drugs in the US, and their use has increased by 8,7% between 2019 and 2021. From 2017 to today, antidepressant prescriptions among teenagers increased by 41%. This significant increase in the prescription of psychiatric drugs is not necessarily due to a deterioration in the mental health of the population, but to the fact that the quarantine gave many people the opportunity to seriously deal with their mental problems and seek scientific help.
"The use of such drugs is no longer taboo. At the same time, modern digital life demands immediate results, instant relief and instant improvement. We don't tolerate incremental change," says Dr Cecil Webster, a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard University. Harris Stratiner, a psychiatrist in New York, notes that 46 of his 70 patients have started using pills in the past two years: “Many tell me they can't get out of bed in the morning. I believe they have experienced COVID as a traumatic experience and the time is not yet right to deal with that trauma.”