Antidepressant Drugs and COVID-19: A Review of Basic and Clinical Evidence

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The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged the repurposing of existing drugs as a shorter development strategy in order to support clinicians with this difficult therapeutic dilemma. There is evidence to support the theory that some antidepressants can reduce concentrations of different cytokines in humans and animals and, recently, the antiviral activity of some antidepressants against SARS-CoV-2 has been reported. The aims of this narrative review are to evaluate the possible role of antidepressants in the treatment of COVID-19 infection and the possible benefits and risks of patients taking antidepressants for mental disorders and COVID-19 infection. A review was performed to analyse the current literature to identify the role of antidepressant medication in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The electronic search was completed in MEDLINE and MedRxiv/BioRxiv for published literature and in for ongoing clinical trials. The results show some evidence from preclinical data and observational studies about the possible efficacy of some specific antidepressants for treating COVID-19 infection. In addition, two published phase II studies testing fluvoxamine showed positive results for clinical deterioration and hospitalization rate versus a placebo. Seven ongoing clinical trials testing fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, and tramadol (as per its anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effect) are still in the early phases. Although the available evidence is limited, the sum of the antiviral and anti-inflammatory preclinical studies and the results from several observational studies and two phase II clinical trials provide the basis for ongoing clinical trials evaluating the possible use of antidepressants for COVID-19 infection in humans. Further investigations will be needed to support the possible use of antidepressants for this application.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4038
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of clinical medicine
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2022


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Antidepressant
  • Cytokine storm
  • Antiviral
  • Fluoxetine
  • Fluvoxamine


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