Celebrex arthritis drug could help treat depression

Researchers have found that arthritis drug celecoxib, often marketed as Celebrex, can help make antidepressant medication more effective.

In a paper presented at the 5th International Congress of Psychiatry and Neuroscience in Athens, Greece, scientists report that the pairing of celecoxib with other drugs resulted in faster and more dramatic drops in depression scores in patients with bipolar disorder.

The study examined bipolar adults between the ages of 18 and 65 over a period of 8 weeks. Subjects were randomly assigned to a combination of any of the antidepressants escitalopram and celecoxib, or the same antidepressant with a placebo.

Subjects in the experimental group seemed to share a positive response to treatment. Seventy-eight percent of patients receiving celecoxib experienced a reduction in depression score of at least 50 percent: 63 percent of the experimental group went on to say that their depression was completely gone. Only 45 percent of the placebo group reported a similar decline in depression.

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

“Celecoxib reverses treatment resistance and improves overall antidepressant response,” study author Angelos Halaris said in a news release. “Such intervention, if implemented relatively early in the course of the disease, can stop the neuroprogressive course of bipolar disorder.”

In addition to reducing levels of depression, the researchers also noted that the combination helped patients recover at a faster rate. Antidepressants usually take 4-6 weeks to take effect. During the experiment, patients receiving celecoxib reported having seen benefits in their treatment during the first week.