by Jinghong Chen

New starts of antidepressants declined by 7.5%, anxiolytics by 5.6%, and antipsychotics by 2.6% compared with forecast levels during the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study published in Health Affairs. For all medications, declines in new starts were particularly dramatic during the initial stay-at-home order period from March to May 2020. Though there was a significant rebound in new prescription starts after mid-May, the numbers remained below 2019 levels. There were substantial drops in new starts for patients younger than 18, across all medication classes, with a 34.6% decline in antidepressants, 27.3% in anxiolytics and 22.2% in antipsychotics compared with the expected levels.

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