Editor’s Note: As 2020 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back and exploring how the coronavirus pandemic impacted health care, attitudes, and prescription discounts. This is the third report in a series of articles on year-in-review trends and reflections from RxSaver. If you are a reporter and want more insights, drop us a note.
As we reflect back on a year that tested our patience with uncertainty and loss, it’s evident that a mental health pandemic is possibly on the rise alongside the coronavirus crisis.
In February, RxSaver took a pulse on the current state of America’s mental health. At this point Americans were coping with strict shelter in place orders and a climbing COVID-19 death toll. We reported that nearly 50% of Americans surveyed reported in April that they were currently managing a mental health condition, and 54% of Americans reported that their mental health had been negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic1.
As we wrap up 2020, it appears that Americans are carrying heavier mental health burdens than pre-pandemic. RxSaver’s most recent survey, conducted by Kelton Research, affirmed that not much has changed since February. More than a quarter of Americans admitted their mental health had become worse since pre-COVID-19 times2.
A Rise In Prescriptions for Antidepressants
More than one in four Americans are currently taking a prescription medication to help manage their mental health condition, with men more likely to take a prescription for their mental health than women (31% vs 23%)2. And young people are one of the most affected age groups with 62.9% of 18-24 year-olds reporting an anxiety or depressive disorder.
Our internal data suggests an increase in prescription medications like antidepressants in 2020, indicating that as Americans reach out for mental health support, medications may be prescribed to help with their condition. Among RxSaver’s most commonly filled SSRIs in 2020 were: citalopram (generic for Celexa), escitalopram (generic for Lexapro), and fluoxetine (generic for Prozac)3.
A Different Type of Holiday Celebration
Americans are continuing to make changes as the holidays approach, having already shouldered rampant changes throughout the year. As mentioned in our first report, 76% of Americans reported some change happening in their life due to COVID-19. And with holidays upon us, making adjustments to custom traditions will be another instance where change is necessary.
In response to updated measures issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asking the public to avoid unnecessary travel, families are altering their plans for the holidays. Because of the rise in COVID-19 cases, 40% of Americans are opting to skip out on any holiday celebrations this year for fear of becoming infected with the virus2. For those who will continue with holiday celebrations, 58% said they would be more selective on who they choose to visit or interact with during the holidays2.
During even a non-COVID-19 year, many Americans admitted they took some type of anxiety medication to help get through the holidays. One in 10 Americans said they take anxiety medication to help cope during this time of year3.
Breaking The Mental Health Stigma
As mental health conditions continue to climb, there’s hope in the fact people are reaching out for help from their health care providers and looking for ways to safely manage their symptoms.
A silver lining of mental health care during the pandemic is that many therapists and patients have been able to continue their sessions via telemedicine. In addition, a number of people who previously didn’t have access to mental health treatment have found a window through telehealth platforms, a trend that, if continues post-pandemic, would lift a significant barrier to mental health treatment. With many mental health conditions, especially anxiety and depression, therapy and medication together are more effective than either modality alone, so access to both is critical.
In some ways, 2020 has provided us with insight into the importance of talking about our mental health and the collective reassurance that we aren’t alone in what we are feeling and facing during this time. It’s important to reach out for help should you feel in crisis and remember there are free mental health hotlines available 24/7.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Kelton. The RxSaver COVID-19 RxSaver 2020 Survey was conducted between April 1, 2020 and April 3, 2020 among 1,004 nationally representative Americans.
Kelton. The RxSaver Q4 2020 Survey was conducted between November 2, 2020 and November 8, 2020 among 1,042 nationally representative Americans.
RxSaver (2020). [Transaction trends across America]. Unpublished raw data.
Bre D’Alessio South
Bre D’Alessio South is the content marketing manager and managing editor of RxSaver. Her writing focuses on health care, mental health, and gender rights. At RxSaver, she also serves as co-lead for the employee resource group caRe, which focuses on mental health and chronic health support in the workplace.
Holly Phillips, MD
Dr. Holly Phillips, a Board-Certified General Internist in private practice, is a journalist, author, television contributor, and medical expert for RxSaver. Featured regularly across multiple media outlets, Dr. Phillips first gained nationwide recognition as a Medical Contributor to CBS News and “Core Member” of the Dr. Oz Show. Frequently quoted in print, she has been a contributing editor for Prevention, and appeared in feature articles for Vogue, Self, and others. Dr. Phillips is the author of the book, “The Exhaustion Breakthrough,” published by Rodale. Dr. Phillips obtained her medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and trained at Lenox Hill Hospital. In practice, she addresses all Internal Medicine Conditions with a focus on preventive women’s health. Dr. Phillips is well versed in the foundations of complementary and alternative medicine and views these ideas as integral to the practice of medicine today. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two young daughters and Pug.
The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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