Teen girls’ antidepressant use more than doubled during pandemic, researchers say

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Nearly four years ago, the world as we know it changed forever. As we have resumed a sense of normalcy, research is just emerging that reveals the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, especially in teens.

Data from researchers at the University of Michigan reveals the number of prescriptions written to the age group of 12 to 25 rose nearly 64% faster after March 2020. The study also found more young adults — specifically girls — were prescribed antidepressants during the pandemic.

The study found that antidepressant usage rose 130% in girls aged 12-17. Researchers suggested isolation during the pandemic, as well as missed yearly physicals, contributed to the increase. Dr. Megan Schabbing, a psychiatrist at OhioHealth, said the study highlights a need for open lines of communication with parents and healthcare providers.

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“If you see a warning sign, reach out, start the conversation and be on the lookout so you know that if they are struggling, you are making that connection with them so they feel more comfortable to open up,” Schabbing said.

Schabbing said if an adolescent or young person is prescribed antidepressants, it is crucial to keep a close eye on their behavior, as some prescriptions could intensify the feeling of depression or suicidal thoughts. It is best to also maintain communication with their physician.

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