Does Aspirin Protect Against Symptoms of Depression?

Researchers examined data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative dataset
Researchers examined data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative dataset

The use of aspirin did not confer significant protection against depressive symptoms, according to findings from a multicenter, longitudinal study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Previous studies have suggested that patients who are depressed may have higher levels of serum inflammatory cytokines and that agents with anti-inflammatory effects (ie, statins, celecoxib) may improve depressive symptoms. However, research on whether aspirin (which has both anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic properties) has an impact on depression has been limited. 

In this study, researchers examined data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative dataset to determine whether aspirin use was related to a reduced incidence of depressive symptoms. Community-dwelling adults with self-reported aspirin use in the past 30 days and confirmed by a trained interviewer were included in the analysis. 

Depressive symptoms were defined as a score of ≥16 in the 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale. Study authors compared patients using aspirin at baseline (n=137) against those not taking aspirin (n=4003) and found no differences in the depression scale at baseline (P=0.65).

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After a median 8-year follow-up, the incidence of depressive symptoms was similar between aspirin users (43 per 1000, 95% CI: 3–60) vs. aspirin non-users (38 per 1000, 95% CI: 36–41). Upon adjusting for 11 potential confounders, the use of aspirin was not significantly associated with a reduced risk for development of depressive symptoms (hazard ratio [HR} 1.12, 95% CI: 0.78–1.62; P=0.54). 

The study results indicated no significant protection against depressive symptoms with the use of aspirin. "In spite of our results, which suggest that aspirin may not protect from incident depressive symptoms, future controlled trials are warranted to investigate potential benefits of this drug in individuals with MDD and higher baseline peripheral inflammation," the authors write.

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