A recent survey by the American Psychological Association says that one-third of Americans have been negatively affected mentally by the COVID-19 pandemic. With major lockdown procedures falling into place the beginning of March, most of us went nearly three months without leaving the house. Though many entrepreneurs managed their startups by working from home, that extended isolation is proving to take a toll on mental health.

Rise of mental health prescriptions in COVID-19

Entrepreneur taking prescription pill to relieve anxiety during pandemic
Entrepreneur taking prescription pill to relieve anxiety during pandemic

So how are entrepreneurs coping with the pandemic? They are turning to their doctors, who are in turn prescribing medications. Express Scripts reports that antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and anti-insomnia medications all rose 21% beginning mid-February when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. But this isn’t the complete picture.

Ginger is a San Francisco telemedicine provider that specializes in mental health services. They report filling out almost 90% more prescriptions to treat mental illnesses since March 2020. These studies suggest that the fear of contracting coronavirus, losing loved ones, or long periods of isolation are responsible for the increase in numbers. Not to mention economic stress.

While the unemployment rate in the U.S. is at 21.7%, Marketwatch reports that it may be falling. Many entrepreneurs, regardless, have to deal with the stress of adapting their startup operations from home. This includes the pressure of balancing their business with home-schooling their children.

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However, experts claim that the increase in mental health prescriptions may not be such a great thing. Having more people reach out to treat mental illnesses goes a long way to breaking the stigma associated with talking about mental health. But as prescriptions rates rise, so can addiction. Benzodiazepines are the most widely prescribed psychotropic drugs because of their fast-acting effects. According to a 2019 study, “The death rate from overdoses involving benzodiazepine has gone up quietly but dramatically over the last two decades.” Business Wars Daily reports overdose deaths related to benzodiazepines quadrupled between 1999 and 2013.

Because of the alarming numbers, doctors have learned to dial back the number of prescriptions given to treat mental illnesses. However, with the recent spike in numbers, if we are not careful we could be teetering on the edge of another outbreak of benzodiazepines-related deaths. Mental health experts say that the best way to treat mental illness is to try and change your behavior first before turning to prescriptions. This includes, but is not limited to, more exercise, healthier diets, and talk therapy.

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Have any more thoughts on the rise of prescriptions to deal with mental health during quarantine? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.