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Common painkillers, statins and omega-3 fish oils may curb depression, study finds

Date: 31/10/2019
Summary: Painkillers, statins and fish oils may alleviate symptoms of depression, especially when taken in conjunction with antidepressants, experts say.

The drugs help with reducing inflammation, which has been linked to mental health problems.

Scientists from the University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, reviewed 26 existing studies involving more than 1,600 patients for their research in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

They found that anti-inflammatory agents, including ibuprofen and aspirin, as well as statins and omega-3 fish oils, could curb major symptoms of depression such as low mood.

The drugs were shown to be 79% more effective at eliminating symptoms and 52% more effective at reducing overall severity than a placebo.

The scientists also reviewed trials that involved other drugs including statins, steroids and treatments for sleep disorders.

But the most effective drugs for alleviating depression were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), omega-3 fatty acids, statins and minocyclines - with the effect even greater when added to antidepressants.

The review concluded that anti-inflammatory agents play an antidepressant role in patients with major depressive disorder and "are reasonably safe."

Prof Ed Bullmore, head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, welcomed the study, but said: "This should encourage further consideration of ways in which we could use a range of anti-inflammatory interventions to help people with depression, perhaps especially people who are already taking a conventional antidepressant drug with limited benefit.

"However, as the authors conclude, further trials will be needed to support licensing and medical prescription of these and other anti-inflammatory agents for depression."

Professor David Curtis, honorary professor at University College London, was not convinced by the findings and said it was "quite misleading" to describe the use of anti-inflammatory agents as safe.

He added: "The most effective anti-inflammatory agents used were NSAIDs and although problems are rare, every year thousands of people die from the side-effects of these medications, which are usually taken for chronic pain and are especially risky if taken for long periods of time."

Source: Sky News

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