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A study by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London found that patients taking antidepressants were less likely to contract Covid-19.

A study published in BMC Medicine suggests that antidepressants may exert a preventive role against contamination with Covid-19. This would be the most commonly prescribed category, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

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Antidepressants would reduce the risk of Covid by 40%

Scientists from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London relied on the clinical records of 5,664 patients admitted for mental health disorders at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic (i.e. between April and December 2020).

These have all been obligatorily tested for Covid-19 during their hospital care. Of the 5,664 patients, 202 tested positive. The researchers found that the infections were approximately half as frequent in patients taking antidepressants compared to others. Further study was able to prove that a recent prescription of antidepressants would reduce the likelihood of a positive Covid test by around 40%. A priori, SSRIs would be the only category of antidepressants associated with this phenomenon.

Despite the success of the Covid-19 vaccination, it has been of limited benefit to some people, especially immunocompromised people. Our previous work shows that antidepressants can target the cell biology processes of Covid-19 infection, and the results of this study suggest the potential clinical benefit of this effect. In the longer term, readily available drugs such as antidepressants can help curb the spread of Covid-19 says Dr. Oleg Glebov, senior lecturer in the Department of Old Age Psychiatry at King’s IoPPN and lead author of the study.

According to him, the association is strong enough to justify a investigation more thorough on a larger population.

Antidepressants are not without effects

If antidepressants were once nicknamed the “happy pill”, today their effectiveness is regularly questioned. In fact, their side effects harmful are now better known.

Addiction, insomnia, weight gain, libido disorders, digestive and cardiovascular problems… Many harms have been identified by scientists.

So much so that at present, doctors are called upon to re-evaluate the risk/benefit ratio before prescribing them. It is currently estimated that only 30 % antidepressants would be effective.

While they may be useful in cases of severe depression, they are not not recommended For milder or moderate forms.

However, the consumption of antidepressants continues to increase in France and particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic.

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