Depression Supplements

You do have a choice. You can take natural depression supplements and vitamins to help treat your depression.

Natural depression supplements are a choice available to treat your depression if you are like many people who, for one reason or another, prefer to avoid taking prescription antidepressant medication for their depression.

The list below identifies some of the most popular depression supplements and vitamins in use today.

  • St. John's Wort: This popular herb has been used to treat depression for centuries. A number of studies have shown that St. John's Wort is effective in decreasing depression symptoms in people who have mild-to-moderate depression, and may be as effective as standard antidepressant medication. These studies have shown that it is not as helpful for those who are severely depressed, however. St. John’s Wort is shown to possibly work by assisting in the re-balance of levels of brain chemicals linked to mood, like dopamine and serotonin.

    The major warning with St. John’s Wort, however, is that it interacts with several different medications (including a number of antidepressants), so you should always talk with your doctor before taking it.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Many studies have shown that heart-healthy fish oil may also benefit your brain and mood. A large study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry discovered that taking omega-3 significantly improved depression and certain other psychiatric conditions. There is an agreement among experts that it's a good idea to take it in conjunction with other depression treatments.

  • SAMe: SAMe stands for S-adenosylmethionine. A naturally occurring compound in your body, this supplement helps raise brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of these two brain chemicals are involved in causing depression. Research has demonstrated that SAMe is as effective as many antidepressants.

  • Folic Acid: Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is often deficient in people who are depressed. Folic acid can be found in green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, beans, fruit, and fortified grains. Folic acid is also available as a supplement or as part of a B-complex vitamin. Because of poor diet as well as a variety of medications like aspirin and birth control pills, it is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies.

    Researchers have found that depressed people with low folate levels don't respond as well to antidepressants, but taking folic acid in a supplement form can enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants.

  • 5-HTP: 5-HTP, which is short for 5-hydroxytryptophan, is produced naturally in the body and is used to make serotonin. Although taking 5-HTP in supplement form supposedly boosts the body's levels of serotonin, many experts feel there is a lack of evidence to determine the safety of 5-HTP. It should not be combined with most antidepressant medication.

  • Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is necessary to produce the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Deficiencies of vitamin B6 are rare; however, even a slight deficiency may occur in people taking birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and drugs for tuberculosis.

  • Magnesium: Most people lack sufficient magnesium in their diets. Good sources of magnesium are legumes, whole grains, nuts and green vegetables. Like vitamin B6, magnesium is necessary for serotonin production. Magnesium can be depleted by stress.

Keep in mind, whether your choice is prescription medication or natural supplements, you should always discuss the options with your doctor first.

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