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COVID-19: So how effective are antidepressants?

COVID-19: So how effective are antidepressants?

At the start of the COVID pandemic, some observational studies It has been suggested that there may be a link between increased survival and decreased severity of COVID in patients taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – the class of antidepressants most commonly prescribed. Research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis also suggested Fluvoxamine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant that could prevent patients from getting sick.

Not surprisingly, early research on the topic led to these conclusions: because SSRIs have anti-inflammatory and antiplatelet effects, which could theoretically reduce or even prevent the intense inflammatory response characteristic of severe forms of COVID.

This is not the case with hindsight

Lead author, Dr. Heidi T. May, makes these preliminary conclusions: “At that time, everyone was looking at how to prevent severe cases of COVID and the potential role of SSRIs came into focus. But today, in hindsight, these observations have not materialized.”

the study Data were analyzed retrospectively from 33,088 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 2020 and December 2021, followed by Intermountain Healthcare on an outpatient basis. Of these participants, 8,272 subjects were also taking the SSRI fluoxetine/fluvoxamine. The analysis reveals that:

  • Hospitalization and mortality are significantly higher in the ‘SSRI’ group versus the ‘non-SSRI’ group;
  • Even not taking an SSRI is associated with a lower risk of COVID-19 hospitalization.

“This does not mean that taking SSRIs promotes a more serious form of COVID, but antidepressants do not provide any protection against the disease.”

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In short, looking back, SSRIs do not reduce the risk of complications from COVID.