Studies for repurposed drugs in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2–infected and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients are ongoing. According to preclinical research, antidepressants (ADs) might be useful in the treatment of COVID-19.
We conducted a scoping review including clinical studies on AD effects on SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19.
As of January 2, 2022, we found 14 clinical studies, which could be included into this review. Among them, there were 2 randomized, placebo-controlled studies and 2 prospective parallel-group studies about the efficacy/effectiveness and tolerability of fluvoxamine. The remaining studies were mainly retrospective studies considering COVID-19 hospital populations predominantly exposed to fluoxetine (N = 3), other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), and trazodone. The vast majority were hospital studies and assessed COVID-19 severity (morbidity) and mortality as primary endpoints. The only outpatient study (fluvoxamine) investigated the COVID-19–related hospitalization rate, and 1 psychiatric hospital study (SSRI, SNRI, trazodone) focused on the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate.
At present, the best evidence of an “anti–COVID-19” potential of ADs exists for fluvoxamine and, to a lesser extent, for fluoxetine. Preliminary evidence had found that patients exposed to SSRI or SNRI substance classes might have a reduced mortality risk and that trazodone might reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection rates. Three studies found no relevant influence of ADs on COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, and 1 study described increased mortality. The latter study, however, did not differentiate between psychotropic medication and ADs. Tricyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors are still absolute “dark zones” in COVID-19 research. Further controlled studies testing the effectiveness/efficacy and tolerability/safety (as well as the treatment timing and duration) of different AD substance classes in COVID-19 and post/long-COVID patients of various populations are warranted.