Anxiety, grief, pain: More people in Russia take antidepressants since the war began

A consumer watchdog has revealed that the number of antidepressants sold between January and September 2022 increased by 70% compared to the same period last year, Russian media agency TASS reports.

Chestny Znak, a digital labelling system in Russia reported the trend, remarking that unemployment from companies leaving the Russian market and general anxiety caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine are two main factors for the increase.

For two months I didn't leave my house. I had no energy to do anything. Not even energy, but the desire to do anything, as if you stop seeing any point in it at all.

In a press release it says: “In the nine months of this year, Russians bought 8.4 million packs of antidepressants, which is 48% more than in the same period last year. The amount spent by Russian residents on these drugs in 2022 turned out to be 70% more than last year and reached 5 billion rubles (€81 million)."

It noted that people living in cities like Moscow and St Petersburg resorted more to antidepressant prescriptions to deal with stress and anxiety. In Moscow, 13.1 packages per 1,000 people were bought per month, and in St. Petersburg 11.2 packages per 1,000 people.

The total amount spent in the first half of 2022 is 3.4 billion rubles (€55 million). In general, in Russia, the average bill for the purchase of such drugs is 596 rubles (€9.70).

Vasilina Kotova, a 22-year-old IT Student, says she started taking prescriptions shortly after President Putin announced Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"For two months I didn't leave my house. I had no energy to do anything. Not even energy, but the desire to do anything, as if you stop seeing any point in it at all."

The increase in usage has been confirmed by psychologists.

“Antidepressants are released only on prescription. So the increase in sales of antidepressants reflects that the number of patients taking antidepressants has actually increased. I think that this is largely due to the anxiety that has arisen in connection with recent events,” says Oleg Levin, a Russian psychologist.

But polls have not recorded any major change in Russian sentiment since February this year. According to the Levada Center, a temporary surge of irritation was only noticeable after the announcement of mobilisation, but by October, almost two-thirds of respondents assessed their mood as normal or fine.