The drug saw positive results in patients as early as one week.

Giving severely depressed patients the arthritis drug celecoxib dramatically boosted the effectiveness of their antidepressant medication, a Loyola study has found.

Loyola Medicine psychiatrist Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, presented the study at the Fifth International Congress on Psychiatry and the Neurosciences in Athens, Greece. Dr. Halaris is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

The eight-week study enrolled bipolar adults, aged 18 to 65, who were in the depressive phase of their disease and had not benefited from an antidepressant. (Bipolar disorder is marked by alternating periods of elation and depression, with depression typically lasting longer.) Patients were randomly assigned to receive the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro®) plus celecoxib or Lexapro plus a placebo.


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Seventy-eight percent of the patients in the celecoxib group experienced at least a 50 percent reduction in their depression scores, with 63 percent reporting their depression had gone away completely. By comparison, only 45 percent of the placebo group recorded a 50 percent or more reduction in depression, with only 10 percent reporting their depression had lifted completely.

It typically takes four to six weeks before an antidepressant begins working. In the Loyola study, patients who took celecoxib began seeing a benefit from their antidepressant within a week.

Read the full press release here.