Pharmacists see 15% rise in prescriptions for antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs 

Pharmacists see 15% rise in prescriptions for antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs 

Almost 4,794,000 prescriptions for antidepressants, mood stabilisers, and tranquillisers were dispensed between January and August — 15% more than the same period in 2019. File picture: Denis Minihane

Irish pharmacists are dispensing an increasing number of antidepressants, mood stabilisers, and tranquillisers, with close to 5m such prescriptions dispensed in the first eight months of this year.

Almost 4,794,000 prescriptions for antidepressants, mood stabilisers, and tranquillisers were dispensed between January and August — 15% more than the same period in 2019, when some 4,173,00 such prescriptions were filled.

Figures collected by Health Market Research Ireland for the Irish Pharmacy Union reveal pharmacists are dispensing a growing number of antidepressants, mood stabilisers, and tranquillisers since the onset of Covid-19.

In 2020, pharmacists dispensed close to 7m drugs used to treat a range of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression — almost 7% more than they did in 2019.

This year has seen month-on-month growth in the number of such prescriptions filled, with the highest monthly growth occurring in June, when 602,959 drugs of this class were dispensed, 9.3% more than the quantity dispensed in the same month in 2020, and 21.5% more than in June 2019.

The slowest monthly growth occurred in January, but this was still 6% up on the quantity dispensed in January 2020 and almost 9% up on the number dispensed in January 2019.

Dermot Twomey said pharmacists across the country have been helping patients deal with mental health challenges since early last year. Picture: Denis Scannell 
Dermot Twomey said pharmacists across the country have been helping patients deal with mental health challenges since early last year. Picture: Denis Scannell 

Dermot Twomey, president of the Irish Pharmacy Union, said the pandemic has been a challenging experience for all who have lived through it, bringing pressures to both personal and professional lives.

“Lockdowns created feelings of loneliness and isolation, many will have suffered from financial worries, while fears and anxieties over the virus itself were commonplace.

“Even today, as we await the final easing of restrictions, many people will be cautious about reintegrating and returning to a more normal life.” 

Mr Twomey said it is “entirely understandable” that for some, the pressures associated with the numerous lockdowns and the threat posed by the coronavirus have led to more “serious challenges” to their mental wellbeing.

Mr Twomey, who is based in Cloyne, said pharmacists across the country have been helping patients deal with mental health challenges since early last year.

“Over that time we have seen a significant increase in prescriptions for antidepressants, mood stabilisers, and tranquillisers.” 

Mr Twomey said it is important for people who are suffering to come forward and talk to someone they trust.

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