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Arthritis drug Celebrex may help treat depression, researchers say

By
Ryan Maass
Scientists say a new drug combination makes anti-depression treatment stronger and faster. Photo by The Javorac/Flickr
Scientists say a new drug combination makes anti-depression treatment stronger and faster. Photo by The Javorac/Flickr

MAYWOOD, Idaho, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Researchers have found that the arthritis drug celecoxib, often marketed as Celebrex, can help make anti-depression medication more effective.

In a paper presented at the Fifth International Congress on Psychiatry and the Neurosciences in Athens, Greece, scientists report that pairing celecoxib with other drugs resulted in faster and more dramatic drops in depression scores in patients with bipolar disorder.

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The study examined bipolar adults between the ages of 18 and 65 over an 8-week period. Subjects were randomly assigned a combination of either the anti-depressant escitalopram and celecoxib, or the same anti-depressant with a placebo.

Subjects in the experimental group appeared to share a positive response to the treatment. Seventy-eight percent of the patients who received celecoxib experienced a depression score reduction of at least 50 percent: 63 percent of the experimental group went as far as to say their depression had gone away entirely. Only 45 percent of the placebo group reported a similar drop in depression.

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The study's authors say the results suggest the arthritis drug should be considered for anti-depression treatment.

"[Celecoxib] reverses treatment resistance and enhances overall antidepressant response," study author Angelos Halaris said in a press release. "Such an intervention, if implemented relatively early in the course of the disease, may arrest the neuroprogressive course of bipolar disorder."

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In addition to reducing depression levels, investigators also noted the combination helped patients recover at a quicker pace. Normally, anti-depressants take 4-6 weeks to take effect. During the experiment, patients who received celecoxib reported seeing benefits to their treatment within the first week.

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