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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and efficacy of antidepressants in major depressive disorder

  • R. Uher (a1) (a2), S. Carver (a1), R. A. Power (a1), O. Mors (a3), W. Maier (a4), M. Rietschel (a5), J. Hauser (a6), M. Z. Dernovsek (a7), N. Henigsberg (a8), D. Souery (a9), A. Placentino (a10), A. Farmer (a1) and P. McGuffin (a1)...

It has been proposed that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may interfere with the efficacy of antidepressants and contribute to treatment resistance in major depressive disorder (MDD). This effect requires replication and a test of whether it is specific to serotonin-reuptake inhibiting (SRI) antidepressants.


We tested the effect of concomitant medication with NSAIDs on the efficacy of escitalopram, a SRI antidepressant, and nortriptyline, a tricyclic antidepressant, among 811 subjects with MDD treated for up to 12 weeks in the GENDEP study. Effects of NSAIDs on improvement of depressive symptoms were tested in mixed-effect linear models. Effects on remission were tested in logistic regression. Age, sex, baseline severity and centre of recruitment were considered as potential confounding factors.


Ten percent (n=78) of subjects were taking NSAIDs during the antidepressant treatment. Older subjects were significantly more likely to take NSAIDs. After controlling for age, sex, centre of recruitment and baseline severity, concomitant medication with NSAIDs did not significantly influence the efficacy of escitalopram [β=0.035, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.145 to 0.215, p=0.704] or nortriptyline (β=0.075, 95% CI −0.131 to 0.281, p=0.476). Although slightly fewer subjects who took NSAIDs reached remission [odds ratio (OR) 0.80, 95% CI 0.49–1.31, p=0.383], this non-significant effect was reversed after controlling for age, sex, baseline severity and recruitment centre effects (OR 1.04, 95% CI 0.61–1.77, p=0.882).


NSAIDs are unlikely to affect the efficacy of SRI or other antidepressants. Concurrent use of NSAIDs and antidepressants does not need to be avoided.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr R. Uher, P080, SGDP, Institute of Psychiatry, 16 De Crespigny Park, SE5 8AF, London, UK. (Email:
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
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