Epilepsy Talk

Popular Painkillers — Depressing News | January 30, 2021

If you thought you were depressed before, wait till you finish this paragraph.

Researchers say popular painkillers could block the effects of antidepressants like Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac or Lexapro…

This means YOU or a loved one.

Do you take Advil or Motrin or Aleve?

Well, the researchers found that people taking these NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) were significantly less likely to get results from their SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) antidepressants.

The key word here is “significantly.” It’s not like Advil turned Prozac totally off.  Plus, a lot more research is needed.

But, if I get a pounding headache, I’m personally going to pop an NSAID, because Tylenol is a whole lot scarier.

However, if I had major arthritis plus depression, I’d take this research seriously…

According to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the effectiveness of SSRI antidepressants is reduced by 15% when taken alongside anti-inflammatory drugs.

Since inflammation is thought to worsen or cause depression in some people, researchers were justifiably surprised.

Because, logically, they expected that combining an anti-inflammatory with an antidepressant would improve, not reduce, depressive symptoms.

Makes sense, don’t you think?

But, researcher and co-author of the study Dr. Jennifer Warner-Schmidt said: “It appears there’s a very strong antagonistic relationship between NSAIDs and SSRIs. This may be one reason why the response rate (in patients of SSRIs) is so low.”

What seems to be at work here, is a matter of imbalance. (You know, what works for some doesn’t work for all.)

SSRI antidepressants work by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin in our brains.  

And by balancing these natural chemicals, they affect our moods and emotions.

But it appears that if this delicate balance is upset by a foreign agent — like an anti-inflammatory — all bets are off.  

Especially if someone is in chronic pain and uses an anti-inflammatory regularly for relief.

But the resolution remains in question.

And more clinical trials will be needed to assess the strength and quality of the anti-inflammatory, together with the treatment and chemical imbalances being addressed by the antidepressant.

Meanwhile, Paul Greengard, the study’s senior author and Vincent Astor Professor of the Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at Rockefeller University, advises, “physicians should consider the advantages and disadvantages of giving an anti-inflammatory with the antidepressant depending on how severe the pain is and how depressed they are.”

That isn’t to say: “Throw away your pain killers!” But it might make you (and me) think twice before popping some more ibuprofen…

At least, it’s certainly worth checking out with your doctor.


To subscribe to Epilepsy Talk, simply go to the bottom of the right column, enter your email address and click on “Follow”.












  1. Jeez, Louise, just when you thought it was safe. Thanks, anyway, Phylis, every piece of information helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — January 30, 2021 @ 11:21 AM

  2. Reblogged this on Disablities & Mental Health Issues.


    Comment by Kenneth — January 30, 2021 @ 11:38 AM

  3. What is wrong with Tylenol?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Tami — January 30, 2021 @ 3:44 PM

    • Tylenol, or acetaminophen is not an NSAID and it’s not an anti-inflammatory. It’s in a category all it’s own and has a particularly strong effect on anti-depressants.

      Also, it’s really bad for your liver.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 30, 2021 @ 4:16 PM

  4. Too much of anything is dangerous- considering what it is and what else you may be taking. Some of my meds do not let me use anti inflammatory meds- so acetametophen is my only choice.- ‘Take it or ‘ache’ it- too much (epilepsy med) Keppra can kill you off, but Doctors cannot see how this works and keep wanting patients to take more- they do not care, now knowing what the side effects are like

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Karen — January 30, 2021 @ 7:00 PM

  5. I can understand your reasoning and it makes good sense. And only those who are in the same position can judge. What’s good for one is not good for all. So, yes you’re right. Sweeping generalizations cannot be made.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 30, 2021 @ 9:14 PM

  6. I rarely if ever take pain killers. I’d much rather endure it than take a chance with side-effects. Right now I’m going in for lumbar blocks for the injury to my spine and that’s the only time I think of pain killers.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Ed Lugge — January 31, 2021 @ 1:26 PM

    • Gee Ed, I think you’re going to need pain killers, having seen other people go through operations like yours.

      Happily the procedure has improved.

      When is the surgery? I wish you well. You will be in my thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 31, 2021 @ 1:32 PM

      • Thank you, Phylis. Lumbar blocks are just injections. It’s a series of three appointments and each time you get three shots. You get two with a 3-inch needle then one with a 5-inch needle straight into the spine. This is my fourth time getting these so it’s no big deal. Once the pain went away for 7-8 years so let’s hope that can happen again.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Ed Lugge — February 1, 2021 @ 11:48 AM

  7. Arthur has injections in his sciatica. The theory was to fry the nerve but it just keeps coming back.

    He also has injections in his spine every six weeks. They help but not so far as to eliminate the pain. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 1, 2021 @ 12:24 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

    View Full Profile →

    Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive free notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 3,150 other followers

    Follow Epilepsy Talk on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: