Using Anti-Inflammatory Drugs to Treat Depression

16 February, 2020
Treating depression with antidepressive drugs and cognitive therapy has a 60% rate of success. Patients should seek other therapeutic alternatives, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, to treat this disorder.

For some time now, many researchers have focused their studies on why people suffer inflammation during depressive episodes. In this article, you’ll learn about the possible therapeutic benefits of using anti-inflammatory drugs to treat depression.

According to some studies, the conventional treatment for depression lies in using antidepressants and cognitive therapy, but this is only effective in about 60% of patients. This means that 40% of patients don’t benefit from this treatment. It’s worth noting that a depressive state can sometimes end in suicide.

In major depression cases, this is a high percentage of patients without effective treatment. Depression affects over 350 million people in the world, which translates into 1 in every 10 adults. In conclusion, depression is a complex subject and people need to seek out therapeutic alternatives that could contribute to treating this disorder.

A brain lit up as a response to anti-inflammatory drugs.

Inflammation and its relationship with depression

As we stated above, more and more studies note the relationship between depression and inflammatory states of the brain. At first, it wasn’t clear if depression could be a consequence of inflammation or if, on the contrary, depression was the cause of the inflammation state.

In a broader sense, depression is a multifactorial disorder that connects several psychosocial, genetic, and biological aspects. Among these, stress can be a detonator. In conclusion, these aspects, along with stress, send inflammatory signals to the brain.

Some patients with major depression show more inflammatory markers in their blood. This includes inflammatory cytokines, capable of modifying your central nervous and neuroendocrine systems. Similarly, it can increase the amounts of C-reactive protein in your body, as well as some interleukins.

Using anti-inflammatory drugs to treat depression

Thus, the theory about inflammation and depression opens up a range of therapeutic alternatives that can help treat this disorder. This is especially important for patients who don’t respond to more conventional antidepressants.

The inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines improves the efficacy of antidepressants and improves the mental state of patients suffering from depression. That relationship was discovered thanks to oncological and anti-infective treatments. During these treatments, medical professionals noticed that administering interferon-alpha to patients gave them depression-like symptoms.

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Nowadays, more researchers are studying the real therapeutic benefits of using anti-inflammatory drugs to treat depression. Several tests on animals have shown that taking inflammatory cytokine blockers reduce depressive behavior and other reactions to stress.

These inflammatory cytokine blockers, also called anti-inflammatory cytokines or anti-cytokines, are sometimes used in patients with autoimmune pathologies, such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. Studies conducted that this therapy can have a significative antidepressive state, compared to placebos, on these patients.

Omega-3 as a complementary treatment against depression

Some studies propose omega-3 supplementation as a therapeutic alternative thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect. Several pieces of research attribute the depressive state to a lack of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to be more effective against depressive episodes. As such, omega-3 is capable of influencing your immune system, reducing some cytokines and inflammatory prostaglandins, and modifying other molecular mechanisms.

A person meditating among birds.

These alternatives require more research. Depression is a complex disorder and inflammation has too many fuzzy symptoms that make it difficult to define a clear relationship between the two. It’s worth noting that this is also an open therapeutic field with many points of view and many hopes for the future.

  • Pérez-Padilla, Elsy Arlene, Cervantes-Ramírez, Víctor Manuel, Hijuelos-García, Nayeli Alejandra, Pineda-Cortés, Juan Carlos, & Salgado-Burgos, Humberto. (2017). Prevalencia, causas y tratamiento de la depresión Mayor. Revista biomédica28(2), 73-98.
  • Miller, A. H., Maletic, V., & Raison, C. L. (2010). La inflamación y sus desencantos: papel de las citocinas en la fisiopatología de la depresión mayor. Psiquiatría Biológica17(2), 71-80.
  • Villa, B. A. D., & González, C. G. (2012). Actualidades en neurobiología de la depresión. Revista latinoamericana de psiquiatría11(3), 106-115.
  • Martínez, V. B. (2016). Ácidos grasos omega-3 como tratamiento complementario de la depresión:¿ qué evidencia tenemos?.