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Common Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Significantly Reduce Benefits of Antidepressant SSRIs

  [ 22 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • April 25, 2011

“May explain why so many depressed patients taking SSRIs do not respond to antidepressant treatment and suggests that this lack of effectiveness may be preventable.”

A surprising report from researchers at Rockefeller University in New York warns that anti-inflammatory pain drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can significantly reduce the benefits of the most widely used antidepressant drugs – the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). SSRIs are commonly taken for depression, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The study, led by RU neuroscientists Paul Greengard, PhD,  and Jennifer Warner-Schmidt, PhD, was published Apr 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (

Importantly, the researchers note, their findings may explain why so many depressed patients taking SSRIs do not respond to antidepressant treatment, and suggest that this lack of effectiveness may be preventable. Further, the study may be especially significant in the case of Alzheimer's disease, they believe.

• Such patients commonly suffer from depression and unless this can be treated successfully, the course of the illness is likely to be more severe.

• Depression in the elderly is also a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease

• And researchers have suggested that treating depression in the elderly might reduce the risk of developing the disease.

In the new study, the investigators first treated mice with antidepressants in the presence or absence of anti-inflammatory drugs. They examined how the mice behaved in tasks that are sensitive to antidepressant treatment. The behavioral responses to antidepressants were inhibited by anti-inflammatory / analgesic treatments.

The team then confirmed these effects in a human population.

Depressed individuals who reported anti-inflammatory drug use were much less likely to have their symptoms relieved by an antidepressant than depressed patients who reported no anti-inflammatory drug use.

The effect was rather dramatic since:

• In the absence of any anti-inflammatory or analgesic use, 54% of patients responded to the antidepressant,

• Whereas success rates dropped to approximately 40% for those who reported using anti-inflammatory agents.

"The mechanism underlying these effects is not yet clear," notes Dr. Warner-Schmidt.

"Nevertheless, our results may have profound implications for patients, given the very high treatment resistance rates for depressed individuals taking SSRIs."

Dr. Greengard adds:

• "Many elderly individuals suffering from depression also have arthritic or related diseases and as a consequence are taking both antidepressant and anti-inflammatory medications.”

• “Our results suggest that physicians should carefully balance the advantages and disadvantages of continuing anti-inflammatory therapy in patients being treated with antidepressant medications."

This research was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging, both parts of the federal government's National Institutes of Health, and the Foundation of The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Disease at Rockefeller University.

Source: Rockefeller University news release, Apr 25, 2011

Note: It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in careful collaboration with your professional healthcare team.

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