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Activation of the inflammatory immune system, as evidenced by the effects of interferon α (IFNα) treatment, induces depressive symptoms. Prescription of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) is now advocated in combination with antiviral therapy in patients exposed to IFNα when early symptoms of depression emerge. The recently published article written by Kraus et al (Gut 2008;57:531–6) gives further evidence for the efficacy of SSRIs to treat depressive symptoms during IFNα treatment.
The mechanisms by which SSRIs reduce depressive symptoms remain unclear. Several hypotheses, such as impact on serotonin activity or neurotrophic actions, have been proposed. Another, that has good face validity in this context, is that the anti-inflammatory properties of SSRIs mediate at least in part the decrease in depressive symptoms. Antidepressants have been shown in …
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