If you were worried about the effects of COVID-19, then get ready to deal with an entirely different monster in the form of depression and anxiety due to the extended lockdowns that have been forced on Americans in various states.
According to the Wall Street Journal, psychiatrists have created a massive uptick in prescription drugs dealing with anxiety, depression, and insomnia since the lockdowns began:
Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications, such as Klonopin and Ativan, rose 10.2% in the U.S. to 9.7 million in March 2020 from 8.8 million in March 2019, according to the latest data from health-research firm IQVIA. Prescriptions for antidepressants, including Prozac and Lexapro, rose 9.2% to 29.7 million from 27.2 million in the same period. The information doesn’t include data on whether dosages have increased along with prescriptions.
Some companies have seen more dramatic increases. Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefit manager owned by Cigna, says prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications rose 34.1% between mid-February and mid-March, while prescriptions for antidepressants and sleep medications increased 18.6% and 14.8%, respectively. Ginger, which supplies video- and chat-based mental health services to companies, says its psychiatrists wrote 86% more prescriptions for psychotropic drugs, primarily antidepressants, in March and April 2020 compared with January and February.
The increase in drugs meant to control mental health is astounding, but it just goes to show you how damaging an increased lockdown can be.
It should also be noted that this isn’t just from the isolation people are experiencing, which is bad enough in itself. Many Americans are facing the uncertainty of employment, paying bills, and feeding their families, which is a horrific burden in and of itself.
As I reported on Monday, a letter signed by over 500 doctors noted also how the lockdowns are affecting both mental and physical health, with many people’s quality of life dramatically reducing due to not having access to hospitals. Also highlighted was the fact that in the UK, many people are choosing to stay home instead of going to get help when they should, and ending up dying in their homes from lack of care.
(READ: Hundreds of Doctors Sign Letter Urging Trump to Lift the Lockdown Before It Causes More Deaths)
It’s important to realize that the cost of the lockdown isn’t just monetary. There is real human suffering attached to it that goes beyond a virus with a low fatality rate.
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