Members of a Young Person’s Advisory Group asked whether there are particular periods in the year when adolescents have more mental health issues.
The new study looked at the anonymized electronic health records from GPs of 5 million people in England over 13 years, to determine whether there are seasonal patterns in antidepressant prescribing and consultations for mental health issues in adolescents and young adults.
Vital Role of Schools and Parents in Youth Mental Well-Being
The research was led by Dr Ruth Jack from the Centre for Academic Primary Care, Lifespan and Population Health in the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham.
Information from QResearch* about antidepressant prescribing and mental health events between 2006 and 2019 was used. People were grouped into males and females in three age groups: 14-18 years (adolescents), 19-23 years, and 24-28 years.
The first record of depression, anxiety, and self-harm, as well as the first antidepressant prescription (it was a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), was included. Antidepressant prescribing, depression, and anxiety incidence rates were higher in autumn months for adolescents, but not for the older groups.
Recorded self-harm was lowest in August for adolescents, and relatively stable throughout the year for the other groups. The findings suggest that support for adolescents around mental health issues from GPs and others should be focused during the autumn.
Dr Ruth Jack said: “Our large study of over 5 million people in England shows that teenagers are more likely to visit their GPs for mental health issues in the autumn. Rates started to increase in September and peaked in November.
The start of a new school year can be a particularly difficult time and it’s great that people are seeking help.
“By understanding the changing demand for services at different times of the year, GPs, teachers, and others who support teenagers can make sure there are enough resources and help available when it’s most needed.”
- Seasonal trends in antidepressant prescribing, depression, anxiety and self-harm in adolescents and young adults: an open cohort study using English primary care data