Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are commonly prescribed to treat osteoarthritis. According to study results published online August 30, 2013 in the American Journal of Medicine, the anti-inflammatory drugs also seem to reduce depression. The study data included 5 previous trials involving 1500 osteoarthritis patients who had not taken anti-depressants. They were randomly assigned over-the-counter NSAIDs, prescription Celebrex, or placebo for 6 weeks.
According to the results, patients on each of the medications, as well as placebo, had fewer symptoms of depression at the end of the 6 weeks than at the beginning. It is hard to sort out how much depression is due to physical pain vs. how much is pure depression. In the study, the improvement in depression may be directly related to decreased osteoarthritis pain. Could part be attributable to a direct effect of NSAIDs on mood -- aside from the pain-relieving benefit? Researchers are trying to figure that out.
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