Antidepressant helps avoid complications of COVID-19

All drugs that are proposed to treat COVID-19 were created long ago and often for completely different purposes. One of these substances is the antidepressant fluvoxamine, which is prescribed for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (also called obsessive-compulsive disorder). It belongs to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – they increase the level of serotonin in the synaptic cleft and thereby improve the conduction of nerve impulses. Serotonin serves as a neurotransmitter in neural circuits that are associated with emotions and with good mood in particular, and the more serotonin is retained in interneuronal contact, the stronger the corresponding signal will be.

But fluvoxamine also has other properties – it suppresses inflammation, for example. And coronavirus infection is associated with severe inflammation. In a recent article in Lancet Global Health describes the results of a study with almost one and a half thousand people who did not get themselves a vaccine against the new coronavirus and who contracted it. Some of them were given 100 milligrams of fluvoxamine twice a day in the first ten days of illness, while others were given a placebo. Both of them were monitored for about a month after the course of fluvoxamine ended.

In the placebo group, 15.7% had serious covid complications, while those who took fluvoxamine had such complications only in 10.7%. The antidepressant reduced the likelihood that a person would have to be hospitalized and used intensive care by 32%. But this is in general for all patients. Fluvoxamine has side effects and is often stopped due to problems with the digestive system. And not all study participants took fluvoxamine to the end. However, two-thirds of COVID-19 patients were able to complete 80% of the fluvoxamine course. Among them, the likelihood of complications during the next month was 66% lower, and the mortality rate was 91% lower.

The authors of the work conclude that fluvoxamine can become an effective agent that reduces covid complications, only it should be prescribed at the onset of the disease and, first of all, for those who have a high probability of such complications from the outset. Although fluvoxamine has side effects, it is supported by the fact that it has been used in medicine for a long time and it has been studied quite well.

Overall, this is not the first time antidepressants have shown unexpected benefits. Earlier this month, we wrote that serotonin reuptake inhibitors help the immune system fight against cancer, although the anticancer effects of antidepressants have not yet been tested in humans.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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