Antidepressants are becoming increasingly common these days. In this modern and fast-moving lifestyle, everyone is working hard the entire day to be a step ahead of the other. Antidepressants have made their way to the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK. As per the government of UK, 17% of the population purchases antidepressants.
People have to tackle several emotional, social, financial, personal, etc., problems. The recent pandemic has led people to face extreme lows in their lives. Such a hectic lifestyle and unpredictable life mean one needs to be mentally fit to handle unfavorable circumstances.
If mental health is ignored, then the susceptibility to depression and anxiety disorders increases. Correct treatment with antidepressants can help to a great extent.
What is an Antidepressant?
• As the name suggests, Antidepressants are used as a medication for the symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorders, and dysthymia.
• Antidepressants were developed in the 1950s, but their consumption has increased over the last few years.
• The chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters is responsible for the change in mood. Antidepressants give relief to a person.
• The number of women using antidepressants is twice that of men.
Side effects of Antidepressants
Antidepressants can have the following adverse effects:
• Feeling agitated, shaky, or worried.
• Feeling unwell.
• Stomach aches and indigestion.
• Constipation or diarrhea.
• Decrease in appetite.
• Insomnia (lack of sleep) or excessive sleepiness.
• Low sex drive.
• Having trouble getting orgasm during sex or masturbating.
• Difficulty gaining or keeping an erection in men (erectile dysfunction).
The majority of these side effects should go away after a few weeks; however, some may linger.
Common Antidepressant Drugs
Some of the most common antidepressant drug classes and their popular drugs are:
• Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors: Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors: Strattera (atomoxetine), Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine)
• Atypical Antidepressants: Wellbutrin (bupropion), Desyrel (trazodone), Trintellix (vortioxetine)
• Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: Marplan (isocarboxazid), Nardil (phenelzine), Parnate (tranylcypromine)
• Tricyclic Antidepressants: Elavil (amitriptyline), Asendin (amoxapine), Norpramin (desipramine)
Antidepressants that cause weight loss
Antidepressants can cause weight gain or loss, depending on the person. It’s tough to predict how a drug will impact your weight. Bupropion, Fluoxetine, Duloxetine are antidepressants that have had reports of causing weight loss.
Although the specific causes of depression are unknown, the brain chemicals dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are likely to have a role. Some studies also reveal a link between depression and obesity.
Rise of Antidepressants:
• As per the study conducted by British researchers, there was a rise of about 4 million prescriptions for antidepressants in 2020.
• The number of prescriptions rose to 78 million peaked in March and April 2020.
• Young adults around the age of 25 face many mental health issues. They were the highest consumers of antidepressants.
• Compared to the third quarter of 2015-2016, 23% of additional people consumed antidepressants in the third quarter of 2020-2021.
• An increase of 1.2 million consumers was observed in antidepressants usage from October to December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
Reason for the rise:
Covid Pandemic is the primary reason why people are facing mental health problems. Due to the lockdown, people had to be at their homes all by themselves. Some of the people lost their jobs, while some of them lost their loved ones.
People with no past mental problems history were also affected during the lockdown, which contributed to the rise in the consumption of antidepressants.
Also, as people were forced to work from home, they were asked to work for long hours on their screens, which resulted in a lack of sleep and less social interaction. This made people irritable, anxious, angry, and depressed.
Effects of the rise:
• The massive rise in the use of antidepressants subsequently led to an increase in the antidepressant prescriptions cost.
• Sertraline was the most consumed antidepressant by the people in the UK, which accounted for the additional costs of £113 Million.
• Due to the high demand for antidepressants, prices of many antidepressants went soaring high.
• The price of Sertraline, which was at £1.55, went high up to £14.32- increased by around 823%, due to its rising demand.
• Due to the increasing consumption of antidepressants, the study concluded that it had doubled the risk of suicide in children and adolescents.
Indeed, there was a considerable rise in antidepressants in the UK. The pandemic was the primary reason for the same. Both- prescriptions and drug prices skyrocketed but are gradually decreasing. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided to look into the matter of unjustified increases in the prices of antidepressants available in the market.
The researchers also suggested optimizing the use of such antidepressants, specifically in young adults. This optimization will help them with the treatment for their mental health and prevent the side effects, which may lead to an increase in morbidity and other severe depression issues.
As the world is recovering from the pandemic and the situation is coming back to normal, it is expected there won’t be any further rise in the use of antidepressants in the UK.