The need to manage psychological symptoms after disasters can result in an increase in the prescription of psychotropic drugs, including antidepressants and anxiolytics. Therefore, an increase in the prescription of antidepressants and anxiolytics could be an indicator of general psychological distress in the community.
The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a change in the rate of prescription of antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs following Cyclone Yasi.
A quantitative evaluation of new prescriptions of antidepressants and anxiolytics was conducted. The total number of new prescriptions for these drugs was calculated for the period six months after the cyclone and compared with the same six month period in the preceding year. Two control drugs were also included to rule out changes in the general rate of drug prescription in the affected communities.
After Cyclone Yasi, there was an increase in the prescription of antidepressant drugs across all age and gender groups in the affected communities except for males 14-54 years of age. The prescription of anxiolytic drugs decreased immediately after the cyclone, but increased by the end of the six-month post-cyclone period. Control drug prescription did not change.
There was a quantifiable increase in the prescription of antidepressant drugs following Cyclone Yasi that may indicate an increase in psychosocial distress in the community.
. , Usher K , Brown LH , Buettner P , Glass B , Boon H , West C , Grasso J , Chamberlain-Salaun J . Woods C Rate of prescription of antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs after Cyclone Yasi in North Queensland. . 2012; 27( 6):1-5