New research finds anti-inflammatory agents might be beneficial for depression

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Through a computerized literature search, a group of researchers reviewed decades of randomized controlled trials to determine if anti-inflammatory agents, like aspirin/paracetamol, might have some benefit for symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD).

According to researchers, anti-inflammatory agents, which include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cytokine inhibitors, and statins, were found to be more efficient for depressive symptoms compared to a placebo. The results were published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

The potential beneficiary effects for depressive symptoms were reportedly increased when taken with an antidepressant, researchers suggest.

The findings were determined by examining an extensive set of databases of relevant studies up to December 31st, 2018. A computerized literature search was conducted utilizing the Cochrane Library and Web of Science, in addition to PubMed and Embase.

Of the databases examined, 1,610 participants from 30 randomized controlled trials were the subject of the quantitive analysis measuring the efficiency of anti-inflammatory agents for depression.

“The main comparison was the efficacy and safety of anti-inflammatory treatment with/without antidepressants versus placebo with/without antidepressants,” the findings say.

“The primary outcome for efficacy was the change in depression score from baseline to endpoint for both groups. If the trials did not provide changes in depression scores, values were calculated from depression scores at baseline and endpoint using the method recommended in the Cochrane Handbook.”

The findings indicated antidepressant effects among the anti-inflammatory agents examined in the study, considering them more efficient than a placebo. Additionally, the beneficiary effects of antidepressant treatment were increased when an anti-inflammatory agent was taken as an adjunctive treatment, the study proclaimed.

“We examined the effects of adjunctive treatments and monotherapy, respectively. Anti-inflammatory agents demonstrated significant antidepressive effects in adjunctive treatments, while in monotherapy a larger reduction was found only for the intervention group,” according to the findings.

“Our systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that anti-inflammatory agents exert an antidepressant effect in the treatment of MDD and were generally safe with rates of adverse effects similar to those of placebo.”

“Anti-inflammatory agents show promising effects for MDD. However, owing to the chronic course of MDD, quality of life and adverse effects should be further investigated in high-quality randomised clinical trials with long-term follow-up.”