Anti-inflammatory treatments for mood disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis

J Psychopharmacol. 2017 Sep;31(9):1137-1148. doi: 10.1177/0269881117725711. Epub 2017 Aug 31.


Background: Recent studies suggest that anti-inflammatory medication may play a role in the treatment of mood disorders.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of anti-inflammatory drugs in patients with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

Method: The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, EMBASE, PsychINFO and were searched from inception until 15 April 2017 for completed and on-going randomized controlled trials of anti-inflammatory agents for major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Data from randomized controlled trials assessing the antidepressant and anti-manic effect of adjunctive mechanistically diverse anti-inflammatory agents were pooled to determine standard mean differences (SMDs) compared with placebo and/or treatment as usual.

Results: Patients receiving anti-inflammatory agents showed lower post-treatment depressive symptom scores compared with those receiving placebo with a standard mean difference of -0.71 (six randomized controlled trials, n=214, 95% CI -1.24 to -0.17, p=0.009). Anti-inflammatory treatment was found to reduce post-treatment manic symptom scores with a standard mean difference of -0.72 (three randomized controlled trials, n=96, 95% CI -1.31 to -0.13, p=0.02). Anti-inflammatories did not show a statistically significant improvement in the secondary outcome measure (change in symptom scores from baseline to outcome).

Conclusions: Further high quality trials are needed before making recommendations for the routine clinical use of anti-inflammatories in the treatment of mood disorders.

Keywords: Depression; anti-inflammatory; bipolar disorder; inflammation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antimanic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antimanic Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents