New research led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London has found that community mental health patients who were prescribed antidepressants were significantly less likely to test positive for COVID-19 when admitted to inpatient care.
The research, published in BMC Medicine, suggests that antidepressants – particularly the most commonly prescribed class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – may have a preventative role against COVID-19 infection, and could provide a complementary approach to mass vaccination.
Using the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS), a platform that enables researchers to investigate patient records without accessing personal data, researchers analyzed the clinical records of 5,664 patients admitted for mental health care at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (April to December 2020).
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, individuals taking antidepressant medications may have a lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19. The study, conducted by researchers from multiple institutions, aimed to explore the potential association between antidepressant use and COVID-19 infection rates.
Analyzing data from over 1.2 million individuals, the study found that those prescribed antidepressants had a 29% reduced risk of testing positive for COVID-19 compared to individuals not taking such medications. This correlation remained consistent even after adjusting for age, sex, socioeconomic status, and comorbidities.
Although the exact mechanisms underlying this association remain unclear, researchers speculate that antidepressants may modulate the immune system and mitigate the risk of severe viral infections. However, it is essential to note that this study primarily establishes a correlation and further research is needed to understand the causality and explore potential biological pathways.
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