Research data published in The American Journal of Medicine suggested that some common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen could reduce depressive symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis, as reported the Chicago Tribune Thursday.
"This work suggests that anti-inflammatory agents may play a role in reducing the burden of depression," said senior author Michael E. Farkouh.
In the study, the researchers evaluated five previously conducted studies that randomised patients to receive ibuprofen, Pfizer's Celebrex or placebo for six weeks.
Although depression scores fell in all three groups, the decline was 0.3 points larger in the ibuprofen group and 0.6 points larger in the Celebrex group than in the placebo group.
David A. Walsh, director of the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre, noted that although the effect of pain relievers on depression may have simply been due to pain reduction, the study "raises an interesting mechanistic question as to whether NSAIDs may have direct effects on mood, independent of their analgesic activity."
Farkouh added that the changes in depressive symptoms observed in the study may be insufficient for some people, "we need more work to figure this out" because the effects may be greater for others.