MONTREAL -- A comparison of the consumption of antidepressant drugs between 2019 and 2020 in Quebec shows a significant increase, according to findings from pharmacists, who associate the phenomenon with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The compilations established by the Quebec Association of Pharmacists Owners (AQPP) show increases in the use of antidepressants in all age categories, although they are remarkable among the youngest and oldest demographics.

The association considers the situation particularly worrying among 18 to 34-year-olds, where there has been a growth of 9.5 per cent in one year.

Community pharmacists, who say they are in contact with nearly a million patients every week, have also observed a major trend: the increase in the duration of treatment, in all age groups.

In their opinion, this is a very representative indicator of the severity of the impact of the pandemic.

The AQPP has also observed a correlation between the current health situation and the consumption of antidepressants. In March and April 2020 there was a general increase in this consumption, before a reversed trend in May when Quebec was coming out of the confinement period.

However, since August, as the second wave of COVID-19 started and new confinement rules were put in place, consumption started to steadily rise again.

The AQPP is reminding citizens that illnesses such as depression can affect life expectancy more significantly than certain chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or obesity.

The association is made up of 2,048 pharmacists who own 1,900 pharmacies in Quebec.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021.