Antidepressant Prescriptions For Adolescent Girls Spiked During COVID, Research Shows

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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Antidepressant prescriptions for young girls skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research published in the American Academy of Pediatrics Monday.

Among young women aged 12 to 17, the rate of prescriptions jumped 129.6% per month before March 2020 and for women aged 18 to 25, it rose to 56.5% per month, the research shows. In March 2020, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency, resulting in many governors initiating lockdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19, including businesses, restaurants, gyms, stores and many schools, and many Americans suffered a serious mental health crisis as a result. (RELATED: Biden HHS Funds Study To Help ‘Transgender People’ Cope With ‘Stress’ From COVID In 2027)

“Our study provides important information on changes in mental health utilization patterns among young adults after the COVID-19 outbreak,” the researchers wrote. “As with adolescents, changes varied markedly by sex, with little change in antidepressant dispensing to males and an increase among females. Although this increase was smaller compared with the increase among female adolescents, findings suggest mental health may have similarly worsened among female young adults after the outbreak.”

The study pulled the numbers from the “IQVIA Longitudinal Prescription Database, an all-payer national database” and focused on Americans between the ages of 12 and 25. Antidepressant prescriptions for Americans aged 12 to 25 increased overall by 66.3% between January 2016 and December 2022, according to the research, and the dispensation rate increased by 63.5% following the pandemic.

Members of the Concord-Carlisle high school team celebrate after winning the Girls' Sprint Medley Relay during the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix at Reggie Lewis Center on February 14, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Members of the Concord-Carlisle high school team celebrate after winning the Girls’ Sprint Medley Relay during the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix at Reggie Lewis Center on February 14, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Adolescent males did not see a rise in antidepressant prescriptions and instead actually dropped off in March 2020, while prescription levels for young men between the ages of 18 to 25 remained relatively the same, according to the research. The dispensing rate was −7.1% lower than predicted in December 2022, while female adolescents’ dispensing rate was 12.7% higher than predicted.

The researchers claimed that the disparity between the sexes was likely due to young men having access to less care and not that they had improved mental health during the pandemic compared to young women. For females, the increase was most notable in the southern U.S., while adolescent males saw more antidepressant prescriptions in the Midwest.

Many Americans have been unable to make appointments with mental health professionals since the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 56% of psychologists unable to take on new patients due to the demand and the rise in the mental health crisis. Several studies published in January found that religious communities’ mental health fared better in the U.S. and the United Kingdom during the pandemic due to the practice of their faith during lockdowns.

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