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Tele-Psychiatrist in VA & NC
ADHD Specialist for Children, Teenagers, & Adults 
Treats Almost All Psychiatric Issues, All Ages

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BACKGROUND: Mental health worsened in adolescents and young adults after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in March 2020, but whether antidepressant dispensing to this population changed is unknown.

METHODS: We identified antidepressant prescriptions dispensed to US individuals aged 12 to 25 years from 2016 to 2022 using the IQVIA Longitudinal Prescription Database, an all-payer national database. The outcome was the monthly antidepressant dispensing rate, defined as the monthly number of individuals with ≥1 dispensed antidepressant prescription per 100 000 people. We fitted linear segmented regression models assessing for level or slope changes during March 2020 and conducted subgroup analyses by sex and age group.

RESULTS: Between January 2016 and December 2022, the monthly antidepressant dispensing rate increased 66.3%, from 2575.9 to 4284.8. Before March 2020, this rate increased by 17.0 per month . The COVID-19 outbreak monthly antidepressant dispensing rate increased 63.5% faster in females from March 2020 onwards compared with beforehand. In subgroup analyses, this rate increased 129.6% and 56.5% faster from March 2020 onwards compared with beforehand among females aged 12 to 17 years and 18 to 25 years, respectively. In contrast, the outbreak was associated with a level decrease among males aged 12 to 17 years and was not associated with a level or slope change among males aged 18 to 25 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Antidepressant dispensing to adolescents and young adults was rising before the COVID-19 outbreak and rose 63.5% faster afterward. This change was driven by increased antidepressant dispensing to females and occurred despite decreased dispensing to male adolescents.

DISCUSSION: Several hypothesis are given, but no definitive explanation for these results.