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Promising Results Using Antibiotics For Psych Disorders

Using Tetracyclines for post COVID-19 neuropsychiatric manifestation.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
Promising Results Using Antibiotics For Psychiatric Disorder
Source: Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Emerging data shows that, after COVID-19, some survivors experience major neuropsychiatric symptoms. Although COVID-19 primarily targets the human respiratory system, it also affects other parts of the body including the central nervous system (Chaves Filho et al., 2021).

It is known, of course, that infections generally trigger inflammation in the body. Normally this is a helpful protective response of the immune system to an invasion. Although it is still early days in understanding this phenomenon, previous documentation of other systemic viral infections provides possible insights. For some people, inflammation triggers an autoimmune response. The immune system becomes over-alert and indiscriminate; in its over-reaction, it begins to attack the body itself. This may be what is happening when neuropsychiatric symptoms appear in individuals after COVID-19. (Troyer et al., 2020).

In a just-published study, Chaves Filho et al. (2021) assert that the severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by COVID1-9 has the potential to lead to neuroinflammation that leads to the manifestation of psychiatric symptoms. They review studies that document that some COVID-19 patients experience confusion, disturbed attention, depression, anxiety, insomnia, emotional lability, and irritability. They suggest in response the use of certain kinds of antibiotics as a possible treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurological manifestations after COVID-19.

These authors (Chaves Filho, et al. 2021) report that COVID may lead to brain infection in two possible routes: (1) “neuronal cells transported along olfactory axons to the brain” and (2) components of the virus may cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Once the virus invades the Central Nervous System (CNS) it induces inflammation and leads to neuroinflammation.

Antibiotics for post-COVID19 neuropsychiatric manifestations
Inflammation and oxidative stress are among the root causes of several neurological and neuropsychiatric symptoms. Antibiotics, some of which have a powerful anti-inflammatory impact in addition to their antimicrobial impacts, could possibly address these symptoms (Chaves Filho et al., 2021).

Tetracyclines are a group of broad-spectrum antibiotics that may prevent or address the inflammation caused by COVID. Minocycline and Doxycycline in particular were found to be useful to address viral infections such as “Dengue, Ebola, HIV, Zika and Influenza A” (Chaves Filho et al., 2021).

Based on their review of literature, Chaves Filho et al. (2021) report, “Promising results have been obtained in clinical trials using tetracyclines for major psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and major depression.” They suggest therefore that antibiotics such as Tetracyclines that have both antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects with minor side effects should be considered as “the most promising strategies". Doxycycline and Minocycline handicap viral replication, reduce severe viral-induced inflammation and autoimmune response, and have the additional benefit of being cost-effective.

The growing body of evidence regarding the link between inflammation and neuroinflammation and how they link to psychiatric symptoms has big implications for mental health practitioners, educators, and patients. It is important that we expand broad awareness of it.

* This study report is not a substitute or recommendation for the use of antibiotics without consulting a medical professional.


Chaves Filho, A. J. M., Gonçalves, F., Mottin, M., Andrade, C. H., Fonseca, S. N. S., & Macedo, D. S. (2021). Repurposing of Tetracyclines for COVID-19 Neurological and Neuropsychiatric Manifestations: A Valid Option to Control SARS-CoV-2-Associated Neuroinflammation?. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 1-6.

Troyer, E. A., Kohn, J. N., & Hong, S. (2020). Are we facing a crashing wave of neuropsychiatric sequelae of COVID-19? Neuropsychiatric symptoms and potential immunologic mechanisms. Brain, behavior, and immunity.