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]

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  1. AP

    I was told an antidepressant would help my pain relief now this says Gps lie all the time. I was going there this morning to see them and have cancelled my appointment. Why when they do not know what is wrong with you do they do this?

  2. CO

    This is especially disturbing since chronic pain often leads to depression, so this medication combo is probably fairly common.

  3. VB

    I can feel inflammation creeping into my hands and joints so I recently added a baby aspirin a day and had some good relief within a couple of days. Unfortunately I also take a low dose of Paxil daily, it helps a lot with anxiety, and makes me a better person to be around. Within about four days I noticed I was having an uncomfortable trip back down memory lane – all of my worst anxieties were running through my head. I figure that the aspirin was doing something to the absorption of the Paxil and I backed off the aspirin. I am susceptible to autoimmune disorders: cat allergies, Graves Disease and now arthritis. Mental health comes first though, I will take the Paxil before the aspirin.

  4. Paul 43

    I once was put on antidepressants by a local clinic. Plus a sleeping pill and an anti-anxiety bill call Buspar.
    I was also taking ROXICET for my recent total knee replacement. Within 3 months I lost about 50 pounds and was at the point I didn’t do anything but sleep.
    I woke one day and had no idea where I was—somehow I made it to the neighbors and she called 911.
    All they did was take me to the hospital and give me a Blood Pressure Patch.
    I came home and flushed every pill I had down the toilet.
    When I started to recover in the next days I went to my Spiral book where I keep a record of all the bills I pay. I couldn’t believe that what I was seeing was my handwriting. It look like somebody 90 years old–I had trouble reading it.
    I WILL NEVER TAKE ANOTHER ANTIDEPRESSANT. Even though my present Doctor wants my to take one she says is a lot milder.
    It seems to me (and I sell Medicare Insurance) that every doctor today wants to put you on antidepressant or statins.

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