October 5, 2022


For First-Rate Health

Missouri sees rise in demand for mental health prescription medication

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The COVID-19 pandemic has added stress to many of our lives, which has led more people struggling with anxiety or other mental health issues for the first time.

That has also led to an increased demand for prescription medication. A new survey from the Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics found Missouri ranks sixth and Arkansas ranks 12th in the country for prescription mental health medication over the last four weeks.

Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baker says medication can be helpful, but it’s also crucial for people to learn other coping skills or seek out therapy.

”Medication may help people get over the initial hump, the initial motivation to make those changes,” Dr. Baker says. “If they don’t continue with those behavioral changes like exercising, changing one’s diet, changing the way one is doing things, they’re probably going to continue to have that problem.”

A study found that in Missouri, 28{5dfd1de9da59c0c38ca6720e3c60aa45adf7724498a16e1572e038fdc81a6ae9} of people are currently taking a prescribed mental health medication. Data from the study says that’s a 17{5dfd1de9da59c0c38ca6720e3c60aa45adf7724498a16e1572e038fdc81a6ae9} increase from January 2021 to now.

Stephanie Appleby has been on medication for a decade.

“Being on medication, that’s something I know I will probably have to take for the rest of my life. I’m okay with that because I don’t ever want to go back to the space that I was in before,” Appleby says.

For Appleby, it’s a positive step that primary care physicians are getting more training in mental health and patients are able to get prescriptions at routine check-ups.

“I had a physician tell me at one point that the side effects you’re experiencing from an untreated mental illness are way worse than the side effects you will experience from the medication,” Appleby says.

Dr. Baker says stress and anxiety from the pandemic plays a major role in that.

However, Dr. Baker says it doesn’t mean people will be on this medication long- term.

“On an anti-depressant, you might be on it for several months, but an anti-anxiety medication is the kind that should be used more in the short-term for most people,” Dr. Baker says.

The study also found that women had the largest increases in prescription use across the country.

Dr. Baker says women present with depression more often than men and they’re more likely to ask for help from their doctor.

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