A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that anti-inflammatory painkillers like aspirin could reduce the efficacy of widely used anti-depressants. The researchers examined drugs within a particular family, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These include the commonly prescribed Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro and Zoloft. They found that these drugs seem to work less well with pain-relief medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
The researchers found that 54 percent of study participants not using painkillers responded to the anti-depressants, while only 40 percent of participants who were simultaneously taking an anti-inflammatory pain relief drug responded. The researchers say that these findings may have a particularly strong impact on patients who suffer from both depression and chronic pain.
“The mechanism underlying these effects is not yet clear. Nevertheless, our results may have profound implications for patients, given the very high treatment resistance rates for depressed individuals taking SSRIs,” said one of the co-authors, Jennifer Warner-Schmidt.
Another co-author, Paul Greengard, added, “Many elderly individuals suffering from depression also have arthritic or related diseases and as a consequence are taking both anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory medications.”
These findings also seem to have relevance for any person who takes anti-depressants; it’s unclear how often one needs to take aspirin or another anti-inflammatory drug for an anti-depressant to be rendered less effective, but it’s certainly something for doctors to make their patients aware of.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.