Anti-inflammatory agents -- such as paracetamol, statins, and antibiotics -- can safely and effectively curb the symptoms of major depression (MDD), according to a study that may lead to new strategies for treating the mental health disorder.
The researchers, including those from Tongji Hospital in China, said that a third of clinically depressed people across the world don't respond well to current drug and counseling therapies, and drug side effects are relatively common.
The study, published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, is a pooled analysis of the available evidence of the effectiveness of using anti-inflammatory drugs to treat MDD.
The researchers analysed data from clinical studies published up to January 2019, and found 30 randomised controlled trials -- involving 1610 people -- which reported changes in depression scales with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
The findings of the new study revealed that anti-inflammatory agents -- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), omega 3 fatty acids, statins, steroids, antibiotics (minocyclines), N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), and a drug used to treat sleep disorders called modafinil -- were better than a dummy treatment (placebo), and enhanced the effects of standard antidepressant treatment.
The drugs were 52 percent more effective in reducing symptom severity overall, and 79 percent more effective in eliminating symptoms than a placebo, the study noted.
According to the researchers, no major side effects were evident from the studies, except for some gut symptoms among those taking statins and NACs.
They added that the study was inconclusive if the anti-inflammatory drugs improved the quality of life in depressed patients.
"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," the researchers wrote in the study.
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