New study reveals that taking certain painkillers like ibuprofen headache relief with antidepressants reduces the potency of SSRI serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
If you’re currently taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression and also suffer from chronic pain, such as migraine headaches, then you might be compromising the effectiveness of your antidepressant medication. A new study reveals that certain over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers such as Advil ibuprofen have a negative impact on SSRI antidepressants, reducing their ability to fight depression and anxiety.
The study, conducted by the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Rockefeller University, New York, focused on a class of chronic pain relief medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Researchers concluded that OTC medications taken for headache relief like ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen, when taken together with SSRIs, essentially reduce the antidepressants’ ability to manage serotonin levels, making them less effective. Popular SSRI antidepressants include Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil and Zoloft.
What are some of the details of this study?
The following results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
- The target of the research, led by Jennifer Warner-Schmidt, was a protein called p11 which has an impact on brain chemistry and antidepressants. The goal of this study was to see how anti-inflammatories and antidepressants influence the brain’s ability to utilize p11.
- Laboratory mice were given antidepressants, both with and without the addition of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Researchers recorded their responses to certain mood-related tests which correlate with depressed behavior.
- Scientists noted that their response to the antidepressants was negatively impacted by the addition of anti-inflammatory pain medication.
- Next, scientists accessed data from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) Study, which involved a 7-year research project on 4,000 individuals who were diagnosed with “major depressive disorder.”
- Researchers compared the results taken from the laboratory mice with the results recorded in the STAR*D study of depressed individuals who also took anti-inflammatory chronic pain medicine.
- According to their results, 55 percents of patients who take SSRI antidepressants without the addition of anti-inflammatory painkillers responded well to their treatment, while only 40 percent of of depression patients who also took ibuprofen or similar pain medication were able to cope with their anxiety, panic attacks or depression.
“We just asked the question as to whether there was a difference based on the mouse data and whether there was a difference in outcome of those patients who said they had taken a concominant anti-inflammatory and those who said they had not taken any,” explained Dr. Paul Greengard, co-author of this study.
Expains Jennifer Warner-Schmidt, “In one study, we found that anyone who reported use of an anti-inflammatory or analgesic agent had a much poorer treatment outcome compared to people who didn’t report any use of NSAIDs.”
What are the implications of this study?
Basically, if you take prescription medication for anxiety or depression, and you have recently also started taking medication for chronic pain relief such as migraine headaches, arthritis, or fibromyalgia, pay close to attention to you mood and behaviors. It’s possible that, if the antidepressants you take are SSRI serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil or Zoloft, you might notice an increase in depression or anxiety, as a result of the combination of the two drugs. If you feel that your pain medications might be conflicting with your antidepressant medication, then speak with your doctor about alternative pain treatments.