Struggling with a severe depression? There are countless natural alternatives for those looking for alternative medicinal remedy — but determining what doesn’t and what works can be a really challenge for experts and consumers alike.
According to “Dr. Charles Raison” this is because the information related to this topic are quite poor. Perhaps it should be noted that Dr. Charles Raison is an eminent professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
However, there are several exceptions. In recent years, many researches have studied the possible effects of St. John’s wort and omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, researchers have been examining a substance namely SAM-e for many years, not to mention that more recently it has been demonstrated the beneficial effects of folate compounds.
Although all of these substances and compounds are available in different forms on the market there are a few precautions you need to take if you want to self-medicate. In this way, you will get appropriate mental health care and will avoid any potential drug interaction.
However, it is highly recommended that to take these no-medicinal depression supplements under the professional care of your doctor, even if it is a non-medicinal remedy, and not independently.
Let’s take a look at what the latest researches have shown.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3s are probably, the best known compounds. They already have a strong reputation in lowering cholesterol and as heart-healthy natural supplements. Many reputable researchers and doctors are now trying to find a connection between these fatty acids, specifically the ones found generally in oily fish such as salmon and seaweed and depression. Can they really have a positive role in treating many forms of depression?
However, for many years, researches have shown a connection between depression and fish consumption. Worldwide, depression rates are significantly lower in those populations that eat predominant fish, specifically omega-3 rich fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines. Researchers have also shown that the level of omega-3 is higher in people without depression than in a population affected by this condition.
These results, in turn, have stimulated many studies to find if omega-3 natural supplements can indeed help ameliorate or even treat a major depression form. Two recent evaluations of all data from dozens of these studies, have reached the same conclusion: “This fatty acid Omega-3s can indeed help people with a severe depression condition but are unfortunately unlikely to help those who are just in a bad mood or suffer from minor depression”.
More than that the results can be completely different depending on the omega-3 supplement type. The precious fish oil contains in fact, two types of omega-3: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). There were effectuated several studies. Studies that used between 50% DHA and pure DHA have shown no effect on the patient depression. On the other hand, studies using between 50% EPA and pure EPA found a significant improvement of symptoms.
However, these studies were brief, small and inconclusive. Many of the patients who have participated in these experiments have different types, symptoms and depression severity. Anyway, it is obvious they don’t receive the same prescribed treatment. Therefore, many participants have taken omega-3s alone, others omega-3s along with different doses of their prescribed drugs.
So the role of omega-3s in the depression treatment is still unclear, one thing is certain: “These studies haven’t shown any potential harmful side effects”.
Because these fatty acids are safe many researchers and scientists are now studying the beneficial effects of omega-3 on children with depression and have shown more than 40% improvement for the children with depressive symptoms.
Other researchers are trying to find if omega-3s could help those who suffer from anxiety that is a condition related to depression. In a recent study medical students who took every day omega-3 supplement for 12 weeks have found a reduction of nearly 20% in anxiety in comparison with medical students who took just a placebo.
However, despite all these good results, “it’s too early to say omega-3s is indeed a stress inhibitor”. But in terms of your overall health, it’s not a idea to have a rich omega-3 diet.
Folate, is in fact, a B vitamin that can be found in eggs, beans and leafy greens and is also an essential nutrient for your health. Although its beneficial effects on depression or anxiety haven’t been studied as thoroughly as omega-3s, many existing researches have shown positive and significant results, mentions “Dr. David Mischoulon”, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who has studied this vitamin.
Similar with omega-3s, the first indication that folate could treat major depression came generally from people with folate deficiencies that have also depression. So the question was put by itself. Is there a connection between lack of this vitamin and depression?
Researches have concentrated on three types of folate: 5-methylene tetrahydrofolate, also known as 5-MTHF, folic acid, the synthetic form used in fortified foods and supplements and methylfolate or L-methylfolate that is in fact, a breakdown product of folate and folic acid.
As in the omega-3s case, existing researches on this compound have been conducted on patients with a wide range of diagnoses that include alcoholism and depression, bipolar depression, dementia, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. Many researches studied the folate’ effects when given in association with a prescribed drug, such as the antidepressant lithium or Prozac. The folate appeared at a first glance to improve significantly the prescription drug effectiveness and in several cases to reduce even the side effects.
In 2011, the Task Force of American Psychiatric Association on Alternative and Complementary Medicine reviewed all the evidence on the connection between folate and any form of depression. The conclusion was that the folate is “a reasonable and low-risk part of an intensive treatment plan” for severe forms of depression when it is a complement to medication prescribed for depression. However, much more studies are needed to establish if folate can be used alone as antidepressant.
SAM-e or S-adenosyl-L-methionine compound, has a pretty close link with the other compound that is folate. The principle is simple your body needs 5-MTHF in to make SAM-e and reciprocally SAM-e makes a lot of key messenger chemicals in your brain.
European researchers first have shown that SAM-e’s hase powerful antidepressant effects even in the ‘70s, and this substance has been largely used as a treatment of depression since. In the Canada and U.S. SAM-e was commercially available starting with1990s. However, this miraculous compound has a weakness. Molecular structure is very unstable and can rapidly disintegrate. But, a more stable and newer version of oral SAM-e is now on the market.
A 2004 experiment has shown that SAM-e can improve depression symptoms in many patients with this condition who were taking prescribed antidepressant medication but instead they had experienced no relief or little in the best case from the drugs.
Like the most part of studies on folate and omega-3, SAM-e researches also, have focused on a small group of depressive patients for a short time, so more concluding studies are required.”
ST. JOHN’S WORT
St. John’s wort is perhaps the most known and studied depressive natural supplements , but the conclusions and opinions of the psychiatrists are quite different who.
Many important researches have shown that this plant can indeed relieve depression but other studies show it doesn’t. They are indeed contradictory results. More than that, the same studies have also shown that St. John’s wort can interfere with many important and essential drugs such as hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, immunity system drugs, anti-retroviral, blood pressure drugs and several antidepressants.
We don’t have to forget that this plant has a long, long history in Europe where actually the opinions are more favorable. However, St. John’s wort is much better than a placebo and in a way, equivalent to ordinary antidepressant drugs, but with much less side effects.