And suicide rates remained unchanged when they looked at those with a prior history of depression, and those with a history of chronic pain.
However, the researchers claim that their findings do not directly suggest that ACE inhibitors are an effective treatment option for depression.
They say that their findings could affect the future use of specific ACE inhibitors.
There are a number of potential issues in the study. First they were only looking at the impact of an antidepressant compared to other psychiatric medications. This means that medications like Prozac or Paxil, that are currently considered to be among the most popular for the development of depression, may not have been included in their study. Second their sample is a US based sample, which means that it would be harder for the study to be replicated in other countries. Finally they only looked at people who were taking an antidepressant at the time of the results, and not for some time after taking the medication. It’d be interesting to see if the results changed if they did compare those with an antidepressant in a later time in life.
But most importantly the patients did respond to the medication. The researchers concluded:
“We show the therapeutic value of an anxiolytic agent in patients with major depression. In particular, the pharmacological effects of naltrexone were sustained over a period of months, and the side effects were minimal.” The researchers suggest that further research is necessary, but that their findings suggest that the use of high-dose antipsychotic medications like haloperidol (Xeljanz) (a common component of anti-psychotic medications) may be a poor option in reducing and decreasing one’s level of apathy. They also recommend that future research should investigate whether the same drug may also be well-tolerated in certain ways.
So far no major side effects have been reported, and there may be some benefits that arise from naltrexone, as there have been few patients which have taken up the drug. Plus, it’s pretty clear that naltrexone is not going to be a cure for depression, because the amount of improvement is relatively small compared to the risks associated with taking anti-depressant medications at high doses. And there are risks associated with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which may require some kind of specific treatment at the very least. A trial is likely to be necessary to determine precisely whether naltrexone can help a depressed individual.