Popping pain relievers may hamper the effectiveness of many popular antidepressants. Surveys suggest that over 20 million Americans swallow nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs every day. These are medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac. Millions also take SSRI-type antidepressant such as sertraline, known as Zoloft, fluoxetine sold as Prozac or other drugs like Celexa and Paxil. The problem may be that the pain relievers might reduce the amount of antidepressant circulating in the system and block their effects in the brain. This effect was noted in a mouse study.
The researchers then analyzed data from a large human trial of antidepressants, the STAR*D trial. Approximately 55 percent of the participants taking an antidepressant alone responded favorably to it. Only about 40 percent of those who also took a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug overcame their symptoms of depression. This research raises some disturbing questions about drug interactions. A clinical trial is needed to determine if people taking an antidepressant should avoid aspirin or other painkillers.
[Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online April 25, 2011]