Is Aspirin Use Associated With a Decreased Incidence of Depressive Symptoms?

Aspirin use offered no significant protection against the development of depressive symptoms.

Inflammation and atherosclerosis are 2 well-known risk factors for the development of several psychiatric conditions. Although aspirin has anti-inflammatory and antiatherosclerotic properties, both of which might make the agent ideal for the treatment of depression, the relationship between the use of aspirin and depression is unclear.

An analysis of data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative, an 8-year, multicenter, longitudinal cohort study of community-dwelling adults, was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. The study assessed the association between baseline aspirin use and incident depressive symptoms. A total of 137 aspirin users (mean age, 65 y; 55.5% women) were compared with 4003 individuals not taking aspirin. Aspirin use in the past 30 days was assessed via a self-report questionnaire and validated by a trained interviewer.

Overall, the 137 participants taking aspirin were significantly older (P <.0001), less physically active (P =.002), wealthier (P =.03), and more likely to be current or prior smokers (P =.002) compared with the 4003 nonusers.

No significant differences in Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) scores were observed between aspirin users (4.6 points) and nonusers (4.8 points) at baseline (P =.65). On the CES-D scale, the range of possible scores is 0 to 60, with higher scores indicating more depressive symptoms.

After a median of 8 years, 967 participants (23.4% of the baseline population) developed depressive symptoms. The global incidence rate of depressive symptoms was 39 events per 1000 person-years (95% CI, 36-41). At the 8-year follow-up, the incidence of depressive symptoms was similar in aspirin users at baseline vs nonusers (incidence rate, 43 vs 38, respectively; 95% CI, 3-60 vs 36-41, respectively; log-rank test P =.63).

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The investigators concluded that aspirin use offered no significant protection against the development of depressive symptoms. Future randomized, controlled studies are warranted to investigate the potential benefits of aspirin in a subgroup of patients with depression and high levels of inflammation.


Veronese N, Koyanagi A, Stubbs B, et al. Aspirin and incident depressive symptoms: a longitudinal cohort study over 8 years [published online August 6, 2017]. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. doi: 10.1002/gps.4767