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Front Psychiatry ; 13: 1020023, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2199420


Importance: Although the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health, there is no comprehensive longitudinal study of the entire population of a country without selection bias. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the prescription of psychotropic drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic, using data from the French national health data system (SNDS). Design settings and participants: Prescriptions for psychotropic drugs (antidepressants, anxiolytics, hypnotics, and antipsychotics) from 1 January 2015 to 30 September 2021 were collected from administrative data provided by the SNDS. This database includes more than 99% of the French population, i.e., 67 million people. The data were analyzed using an interrupted time series analysis (ITSA) model. Main outcomes and measures: Consumption of psychotropic drugs was aggregated in months and expressed in number of boxes per thousand inhabitants. Results: During the study period, more than 1.3 billion boxes of psychotropic medications were dispensed. Comparison of psychotropic drug dispensing before and after the pandemic showed a relative increase of 0.76 (95 CI 0.57 to 0.95, p<0.001) boxes per month per thousand inhabitants, all classes of psychotropic drugs combined. Three classes saw their consumption increase in an almost similar proportion, respectively, by 0.23 (0.15 to 0.32, p<0.001) boxes for antidepressants, 0.27 (0.20 to 0.34, p<0.001) boxes for anxiolytics and 0.23 (0.17 to 0.30, p<0.001) boxes for hypnotics. The change in antipsychotic consumption was very small, with an increase of 0.04 boxes (0.02 to 0.06, p = 0.001) per month per thousand population. Conclusion and relevance: The COVID-19 pandemic had led to an increase in the consumption of psychotropic drugs, confirming the significant impact of the pandemic on the mental health of the general population.