Depression is one heck of a pervasive condition. Throughout the world, more and more people are seeking treatment for depression. Be it clinical depression or chronic, low-intensity dysthymia, everyday more and more seek treatment, which is a great thing. Yet we live in a world that is quick to prescribe medication. Antidepressants can certainly help, but they can have unsettling side effects and take weeks to kick-in. Instead of rushing to the back of the pharmacy, you may have good options available over-the-counter. Check out these supplements for depression that may actually promote good mood.
Or Hypericum perforatum, is a flowering plant that’s had a long history of medicinal use. It’s been studied for treating depression in over 40 clinical trials. In a 2008 Cochrane review, 29 trials involving 5,489 patients analysed comparisons of St John’s wort with placebos and with antidepressants. It demonstrated that people were significantly more likely to respond to St John’s wort than to placebo. In the same analysis, St John’s wort had an equivalent effect to antidepressants. Be warned though: the supplement should not be taken with antidepressants as it can cause serotonin syndrome.
Found in some food, zinc has been garnering evidence that it improves depressed mood. For instance, a 2012 review of randomized controlled trials found two 12-week trials demonstrated zinc—as an addition to antidepressants—significantly lowered depression. Still, many say zinc by itself helps with feelings of anxiety and depression. While zinc is a fairly safe supplement, it may cause nausea on an empty stomach.
NAC or N-acetyl cysteine, is an amino acid with strong antioxidant properties. Recently, it has been found to significantly reduce depression in bipolar disorder (NOTE: not unipolar depression). A 24-week placebo-controlled trial found that one gram of NAC twice a day significantly reduced depression. The supplement doesn’t appear to have any significant adverse reactions, yet it’s still only available from compounding pharmacies or from overseas.
And here’s everyone’s favorite supplement: omega-3 fatty acids. It seems that the entire world has been switched on to omega-3 fatty acids over the past decade. Unlike many other purported panaceas, omega-3 fatty acids seem to provide real benefits for your health. Epidemiological studies have found that low dietary intake of omega-3 oils from fish may be related to increased risk of depressive symptoms. A review of various clinical trials on major depression involving fatty acids—alone or in combination with antidepressants—has largely supported omega-3’s use in depression.
Depression is not something to trifle with. If you don’t feel like your old self or you’ve actually found yourself suffering from symptoms, always seek a doctor before you take any supplements for depression. And don’t just allow the doctor to talk at you—ask questions! Neuroscience and psychology have advanced dramatically in recent history, but the mind is still far from fully understood so be skeptical, ask questions and review your options.
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