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1 in 5 Americans on prescribed mental health meds amid COVID-19, study finds

Coronavirus

Doctors treat 2 types of disorders

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A new study using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mental health prescriptions rose 6.5% nationally in the last eight months.

According to the study from QuoteWizard, nearly 65 million Americans — 1 in 5 people — are currently taking prescribed mental health medications.

The study also shows 18 states saw at least a 10% to 20% increase in people taking prescription mental health medication during the pandemic.

Psychologists at the Waccamaw Center for Mental Health in Conway, South Carolina, say they have been helping more and more people of all ages with stress, anxiety and depression.

“The kids are struggling with the whole changing school situation. Also, with the adults, you’ve seen financial problems and loss of jobs, and that trickles down to the children, too,” said Dr. Rupa Shetty, chief of psychiatric services at Waccamaw Center.

Health experts are also concerned by evidence showing higher risks of neurological disorders among COVID-19 survivors.

“Initially, it was OK, but as the year has progressed, this has been a long-term effect, and it is going to continue to affect these kids, especially now that they are getting ready to go back to school. They are more anxious as to how they are going to do when they go back to school,” Shetty said.

Mental health doctors in South Carolina say they have been treating two main types of mental health disorders during the pandemic: situational depression and neuropsychiatric sequelae.

Shetty said situational depression or anxiety is typically short-term and can often be a stress-related type of depression.

Neuropsychiatric sequelae are typically more long-term and often exhibit more severe symptoms and impairment.

Shetty says not all patients who walk through her door need medication, though.

If a patient is experiencing situational depression or anxiety, such as due to isolation, that’s different from a neurological circumstance.

“If there’s a true neuropsychiatric sequence after COVID, or there was an underlying health disorder that was not treated in the past, if that comes to the forefront, then yes, we have to treat them with medications,” Shetty said.

The Waccamaw Center for Mental Health recommends reaching out to your primary care doctor for help. Doctors may recommend counseling or completing a mental health evaluation.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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