During this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of developing various mental health problems has increased among people of every age group. The social restrictions and nationwide lockdown amid the disease have posed a threat to people’s psychological health. The increasing mental health issues go hand in hand with the increased use of medications for mental health, such as antidepressants. Many government and private organizations conducted different surveys regarding the gross market sale and consumption of anti-depression medicines during this pandemic. After examining the survey result, mental health experts have observed that the overall intake of antidepressants has increased by 20% since the devastating second wave of COVID-19 hit the country.
Reports show that the market sale of antidepressants in April 2019 was around Rs 189.3 crores that dropped to Rs 172.1 crores in June. The sale again increased by 196.9 crores in July 2020 and Rs 210.7 crores in October 2020. The gross sale reached its peak in April 2021 by setting a record of Rs 217.9 crores.
Dr. Rajiv Chaturvedi, chairperson, Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, said that he has recently worked on a few reports related to the increasing use of antidepressants. Dr. Chaturvedi added, “I have observed that the sale and intake of neuro-cognitive enhancers have increased by 20% this year, especially during the second wave of COVID-19. We prescribe antidepressants like neuro-cognitive enhancers mostly for young adults suffering from chronic depression, anxiety disorder, or episodic panic attacks.”
Dr. Chaturvedi further explained that the brain’s chemicals help people control different life circumstances when they don’t have much stress. Because of the stressful environment during the COVID-19 outbreak, individuals over-employ their emotions and cognition that eventually produce the deficiency. And, people try to complete the insufficiency by taking medications. They consume antidepressants to increase their tolerability regarding stressful situations. When asked about the specific age group who are coming with the complaint of depression symptoms, Dr. Chaturvedi said, “Mostly young adults are currently suffering from depression-related mental health problems. But overall every age group is coming with similar problems, be it 15 years or 65 years. People of different age groups experience stress differently, but the condition is the same.”
Renowned psychologist Mrs. Jayashri Bhattacharya has said that it is important to know about depression first. She further explained that an increased level of serotonin hormone is associated with elevated mood while a low level of serotonin causes depression-related symptoms among people. Serotonin deficiency generally leads to a disorder that is known as depression. She added that doctors prescribe antidepressants to complete the insufficiency of serotonin hormone. “During the second wave of this pandemic, India has witnessed a record-breaking upsurge in the death toll. I think that the overexposure to COVID-19 news has triggered the situation for the worse. People have suffered from permanent loss following one or multiple deaths in their families.” According to Mrs. Bhattacharya, all these situations have taken a toll on everyone’s mental health.
On a positive note, the country is now seeing a decline in fresh COVID-19 cases and deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently announced that India has reached the last phase of this pandemic, and the country will see a COVID-free environment soon. However, the country’s government is taking every possible precaution to fight against the upcoming third wave of this pandemic.
*(Names and places changed due to privacy concerns)