The research found that people taking these antidepressants were 28 percent less likely to die of COVID.
SSRI antidepressants reduce the risk of dying from COVID, a large analysis finds.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, include most modern antidepressants such as Prozac or Seroxat.
The research found that people taking fluoxetine, which is marketed under names such as Prozac, Sarafem and Adofen, were 28 percent less likely to die of COVID.
Another SSRI antidepressant called fluvoxamine was linked to a 26 percent reduction in the risk of dying from COVID.
Fluvoxamine is branded Luvox and mainly used in the US to treat OCD and social anxiety, and elsewhere for depression.
Dr Marina Sirota, study co-author, said:
“We can’t tell if the drugs are causing these effects, but the statistical analysis is showing significant association.
There’s power in the numbers.”
For the study, researchers analysed almost half-a-million health records.
The results showed that taking any kind of SSRI antidepressant was linked to an 8 percent reduced chance of dying from COVID.
The apparent protective effect was particularly strong for fluoxetine and fluvoxamine.
While the benefits are not as strong as those shown by new antivirals developed by Merck and Pfizer, the results are still significant.
Dr Tomiko Oskotsky, the study’s first author, said:
“The results are encouraging.
It’s important to find as many options as possible for treating any condition.
A particular drug or treatment may not work or be well tolerated by everyone.
Data from electronic medical records allow us to quickly look into existing drugs that could be repurposed for treating COVID-19 or other conditions.”
SSRIs have anti-inflammatory properties
A previous study found that fluvoxamine may reduce the risk of hospitalisation with COVID by 32 percent.
Fluvoxamine’s and other SSRI’s beneficial effect is thought to be due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
The drug may help to fight the so-called ‘cytokine storms’ which are a feature of severe COVID.
Cytokine storms are when the body’s immune system becomes overactive.
The study was published in JAMA Network Open (Oskotsky et al., 2021).
Hello, and welcome to PsyBlog. Thanks for dropping by.
This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.
It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.
I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.