The magnitude of the crisis over the expansion of the coronavirus has generated high levels of stress and distress across the globe. In a wake-up call to individual governments, the World Health Organization (WHO) has already warned that the advancement of the Covid-19 pandemic will lead to a possible long-term increase in mental health problems around the world.
In places of conflict, about 1 in 5 people suffer from mental disorders, figures that correlate in the current pandemic: in three of the countries most affected by the pandemic, such as China, Iran or the United States, a high increase in the prevalence of distress has been detected, ranging from 35% to 60%.
Specifically in the health workers sector, a study in Canada found that 47% of them said they needed psychological support, while in China 50% suffer from depression, 45% anxiety, and 34% insomnia.
In Chile, the outlook for the mental health of its inhabitants is not very encouraging. During the first quarter of 2020, the proportion of licences associated with psychological disorders increased by 29%, with the emergence and spread of coronavirus in the national territory.
A study by Yapp Chile, a free application to quote and buy drugs, found that the demand for drugs to combat mental disorders increased by 186% during the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period last year.
In the vast majority of cases, demand was increasing exponentially. For example, in March, when the first cases were detected in our country, the quotes for the clonazepam anxiolytic increased by 18.2% compared to February, while, in April, with quarantines already installed in several areas of the country, demand fell to 84.85% compared to the previous month.
According to the study, Clonazepam (199% increase), Sertraline (45% increase), Escitalopram (445% increase) and Quietiapine (296% increase) were the most requested medicines during the first quarter.
“Prolonged quarantines, lack of physical contact with family and friends or constant concern about the possibility of contagion are all stress and distress factors, and eventually lead to self-medication such as the one we detect, which can be dangerous if not closely monitored by a specialist,” said Javier Appelgren, founder of Yapp Chile.