Antidepressant prescriptions surged during pandemic, fueling prices

Antidepressant use skyrocketed in 2020 during the pandemic, according to a new study, and prices have increased as a result. The research comes from the University of Huddersfield, which notes that prescription and cost trends highlight the need for mental health strategies and interventions to 'optimize' the use of these drugs.

The new study focused on antidepressant prescriptions and costs in the UK, though similar trends have been reported in other countries, as well. For example, the FDA reported last summer that demand for sertraline, one of the most popular antidepressants, had surged amid supply chain issues caused by the pandemic.

The combination of the two led to a shortage of the drug at the time, and though that's not much of a problem at this point, the new study notes that generic antidepressant costs have increased — and sertraline, also known as Zoloft, is largely impacted by the increased prescription fees.

Though experts had expected an increase in demand for antidepressants fueled by the pandemic, the increased costs are cited as a particular concern, as is the risk youth and young adults face when taking these drugs.

An analysis of data on 100,000 people found that people under the age of 25 taking these drugs had double the risk of suicide compared to older patients. Ultimately, the researchers call for additional research to optimize antidepressant use in light of the increasing costs and the risks youth and young adults may face when taking these pills.