Anti-inflammatory medicines and pain killers may play a role in the relief of depression in people suffering from the condition, a new study reveals.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), medicines to treat inflammation, are often available for sale over-the-counter.

Celebrex, one of the most popular anti-inflammatory drugs, is often recommended by doctors for treatment of arthritis and pain from menstrual cramps, as well as some cases of chronic pain. The medicine works by inhibiting COX-2, an enzyme that produces prostaglandin, a hormone-like chemical that plays a vital role in the transmission of pain. By reducing the concentration of these chemicals, pain can be reduced in patients taking the drug.

Aarhus University researchers in Denmark conducted a meta-analysis examining 14 separate studies conducted around the world. Put together, the analysis looked at records of 6,262 people diagnosed with depression or who exhibited single symptoms of the condition.

Roughly nine percent of the American population suffers from depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than four percent are afflicted by severe cases of the disorder, according to the federal agency. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks depression as one of the top five contributors to shorter life spans, as well as loss of quality of life.

Physical aliments, especially ones which result in physical pain, are being recognized by health professionals as major contributors to depression.

The new study reveals, for the first time, that anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics can be successfully used in conjunction with drugs aimed at treating depression for greater efficacy than traditional treatments alone. The finding could also help health care professionals develop personalized treatment plans for patients suffering from depression. Researchers found, for instance, that anti-inflammatory drugs had the greatest effect when inflammation was present in the patient's body.

"The biggest problem with depression is that we do not know the causes that trigger the condition in the individual patient. Some studies suggest that the choice of antidepressant medication can be guided by a blood sample that measures whether there is an inflammatory condition in the body. Other studies show that the same blood samples could be used as a guideline on whether a depressive patient can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs," Ole Köhler of Aarhus University said.

Although there appears to be a significant link between NSAID's and depression, the research team notes the metastudy does not point to inflammations as the sole cause of depression in most cases.

Investigation of the role of anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers on the relief of symptoms of depression was detailed in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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