Can Anti-Depressant Drugs Handle COVID-19?

Can Anti-Depressant Drugs Handle COVID-19?


Antidepressants may help COVID-19 patients avoid some of the most serious complications of this infection. The drug called fluvoxamine was tested as a treatment for patients with coronavirus infection SARS-CoV-2 in the United States. The report also said that the drug can reduce the risk of hospitalization and the need for respiratory aids.

Anti-Depressant drugs may prevent COVID-19 patients from worsening symptoms

Trials on the anti-depressant fluvoxamine for the treatment of COVID-19 were conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine which is a collaboration of the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Infectious Diseases Infections.

In this study, researchers tested 152 COVID-19 patients who were experiencing only mild symptoms at the time.

They divided the test participants into two groups, namely 80 patients in the group who received anti-depressant drugs and 72 patients in the group who got a placebo (a drug designed without any effect).

After 15 days of patients receiving this drug therapy, none of the patients receiving anti-depressants experienced worsening of serious symptoms. Meanwhile, 6 patients from the group received a placebo (8.3%) worsening symptoms. Worsening symptoms experienced by these six patients included shortness of breath, pneumonia, and reduced oxygen levels in the blood.

"None of the patients who used fluvoxamine had trouble breathing or needed hospitalization," said Professor of Psychiatry Eric J. Lenze, one of the researchers in the study.

"Most of the COVID-19 drug research is aimed at patients with severe symptoms. We feel it is also important to find therapies that can prevent patients from getting sick, needing extra oxygen, or having to be in the hospital. Our study shows fluvoxamine can help fill that void," Lenze said.

The study, published in the journal JAMA on Saturday (12/11), emphasized that determining the efficacy of anti-depressants as a COVID-19 drug necessary for randomized trials on a larger scale.

How can anti-depressant drugs handle viral inflammation?

The results of this study are quite unusual because the anti-depressant type fluvoxamine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Fluvoxamine is generally the main option for treating depression.

The drug is also commonly used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), not viral infections. So how does this anti-depressant work in respiratory diseases caused by COVID-19?

Fluvoxamine works by inhibiting proteins that absorb the hormone serotonin in brain cells, this protein is called a serotonin transporter. When this serotonin transporter is blocked or inhibited, then serotonin levels in the brain will increase.

This is the main mechanism of anti-depressants since the brains of depressed people have low serotonin levels.

Treatment with this drug for several weeks was shown to reduce depressive symptoms in about half of patients. These drugs are very safe, with the most common side effects being sexual dysfunction, constipation, headaches, and fatigue.

Unlike other SSRIs, in addition to blocking a protein called a serotonin transporter, this fluvoxamine SSRI can also interact actively with another brain cell protein called the sigma-1 receptor. This interaction is what makes fluvoxamine-type anti-depressant drugs that can handle COVID-19 patients.

Fluvoxamine strongly activates the sigma-1 receptor protein, as a result of which it is able to inhibit cytokine production. Inhibition of cytokine production is able to prevent cytokine storms. What is cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients can be read here.

In short, cytokines are signaling molecules that direct the action of immune cells in action against the virus. But the body can produce excessive cytokines, this is the condition called cytokine storms. Instead of fighting infection, the condition causes inflammation or inflammation that is fatal.

So fluvoxamine can activate the sigma-1 receptor protein. Then this protein inhibits the production of cytokines, which can then help control the inflammatory response or inflammation of the body.

Well, so those of you who are positive covid-19 can take this medicine. Hopefully, the article on Whether Anti-Depressant Drugs can Handle COVID-19? this can be useful and can add to your insights, if there are things in question can be directly questioned in the comments field below.

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