People who suffer with depression may be looking into unconventional treatment options to ease the severity of the symptoms associated with this disorder. Compelling evidence suggests an association between depression and inflammation, but no causal link with specific inflammation markers, such as CRP, has been established. Subgroups of major depressive disorder may be associated with an inflammatory state. Therefore, studies have investigated whether the use of anti-inflammatory agents such as Non-steroidal ant-inflammatory agents (NSAIDS) and cytokine inhibitors could improve the antidepressant response. When evaluating the effects of anti-inflammatory medications on depression, heed caution before attempting intervention. At best, studies show that results are “conflicting and detrimental” to patients using anti-inflammatory in conjunction with or in replacement of antidepressants.
Effect of Anti-inflammatory Medications on Depression
A 2015 article concludes that “…anti-inflammatory agents do not likely exhibit generalized antidepressant effects and may only be effective in subgroups of patients with increased inflammation.”
Potential Positive Effects
Some studies have found that the use of cytokine inhibitors have had positive effects on depressive symptoms. Cytokine inhibitors are medications that target inflammatory cytokines to interfere with their receptions and relieve patients from symptoms associated with inflammation, including fatigue and muscle aches. Patients in a in a study summarized in a 2014 metanalysis published in JAMA Psychiatry experienced a lessening of depressive-specific symptoms, such as anxiety and fatigue when treated with anti-inflammatory medications. However, this study concludes that isn’t enough evidence to suggest that anti-inflammatory medications should be used as the sole treatment for depression.
The potential antidepressant treatment effects of anti-inflammatory strategies should always be balanced against the risk for adverse effects. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs increase the risk for gastrointestinal and cardiovascular adverse effects, whereas cytokine inhibitors increase the risk for infections.
Difficulties in Interpreting Data
Researchers found these following issues when trying to clarify their findings with regard to determining the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs for depression:
The correlation between inflammation and depression has not been solidified
There are difficulties when interpreting the data partly because the relationship between inflammation and mood disorders has not been concretely established. While some patients suffering from major depressive disorder have been found to have increased levels of cytokines (which regulate inflammation and infection), results have not been able to connect the appearance of inflammation directly with mental health. Patients with increased cytokines are more likely to develop autoimmune diseases and infections, but not necessarily depression.
Treatment for an inflammatory disorder may indirectly benefit the patient’s mood
The most noticeable marker for an autoimmune disease is inflammation. Patients may suffer from an eruption of redness, heat, swelling, pain and discomfort, which might affect their mood. Treatment for inflammation may relieve the discomfort and thereby contribute to the patient being in a better mood.
Treatment Options with Mid City TMS
Future focus for research should be on validating the degree of a biological link between inflammation and depression. Antidepressants with a specific anti-inflammatory purpose to target inflammation in the brain and reduce hormones that contribute to depression could one day become a treatment solution after further research is conducted.
Although research is still being done on the effect of anti-inflammatory medications on depression, more definitively effective treatment options like TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), are available now. At Mid City TMS, we believe that patients should be well informed about decisions regarding their mental health. With our highly trained professionals utilizing the latest technological advancements in TMS, results prove that better is possible. Contact us today to learn more about your options.