OTC Analgesics May Reduce Depression Symptoms

Used alongside antidepressants, OTC analgesics and anti-inflammatories purchased from pharmacies may effectively treat patients with depression without increasing their risk of adverse events.

Used alongside antidepressants, OTC analgesics and anti-inflammatories purchased from pharmacies may effectively treat patients with depression without increasing their risk of adverse events, the results of a large meta-analysis suggest.

Across the 14 international trials on the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and cytokine inhibitors that were included in the meta-analysis, OTC anti-inflammatory treatment reduced depressive symptoms compared with placebo in patients who were diagnosed with depression or exhibiting depressive symptoms.

Among the 6 studies that reported on adverse events, the researchers found no evidence of increased amounts of gastrointestinal or cardiovascular events or infections with OTC anti-inflammatory treatment versus placebo.

Although those findings support a proof-of-concept concerning the use of anti-inflammatories in depression, a meta-analysis cannot prove that an inflammatory state is the sole cause of depressive symptoms, lead study author Ole Köhler, MD, noted.

“The meta-analysis supports this correlation, and also demonstrates that anti-inflammatory medication in combination with antidepressants can have an effect on the treatment of depression,” Dr. Köhler said in a press release. “When combined, they give an important results which, in the long term, strengthens the possibility of being able to provide the individual patient with more personalized treatment options.”

The positive effects on depression exhibited in the study should be weighed against the possible side effects of anti-inflammatory medications, Dr. Köhler added.