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Statins, antibiotics, painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, as well as, fish oil are proven to treat depression better than antidepressants, reveals a study -- the most convincing evidence yet for an association of physical inflammation with mental illness. The research, based on the analyses of 30 randomised control trials into depression where non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen, omega-3 fatty acids, statins, or an antibiotic normally used to treat acne were tested alone or in combination with antidepressants, found "significant antidepressant effects" for all those agents as compared with a placebo.

The findings published in the BMJ's Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry said the effects were even stronger when combined with antidepressants. These medicines and agents were 52 percent more effective than placebo at reducing overall symptoms of depression and were 79 percent more effective in eliminating symptoms than placebo.

Professor Alan Carson, a consultant neuropsychiatrist and academic based at Edinburgh University's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, said the study gave an insight into the development of severe depression and followed a string of observational experiments that found elevated levels of inflammatory proteins in the blood of people suffering from depression.

Antidepressants
Antidepressants Reuters

Professor Carson said it was evident that inflammatory mechanisms in the body were relevant to the development of depression, but the study looked into the physiological mechanism, which triggered an inflammatory response in the body and could lead to depression. The researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China noted that antidepressants taken alone were "often ineffective" and had side effects, including nausea, insomnia, weight gain, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular toxicity, and even suicide, and there was an urgent need for "safer and more effective" treatments.

Medical professionals currently administer Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), dopamine reuptake blocker, 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, 5-HT2 receptor antagonists, or 5-HT3 receptor antagonist among others to treat mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).