Mental health drug prescriptions rise after wildfires

Researchers tracked drugs taken for depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder in California areas that saw major blazes over an 8-year span.

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A JAMA Network Open study that examined the community impact of 25 large California wildfires over an eight-year period found an increase in prescriptions for medication to address anxiety, depression, mood stabilization and bipolar disorder immediately following the fires.

"This is the first time that there's been a study on this scale of looking across multiple wildfire seasons over the entire state of California to measure the mental health impacts," said Dr. Zack Wettstein, a UW Medicine emergency physician and the study's lead author. "I think that this research adds a significant amount of evidence that there is a really substantial mental health impact related to wildfire in our communities."

Read more about Wettstein's findings in a news release.

In broadcast-ready soundbites, Wettstein discusses the link between wildfires and mental health.

UW Medicine