Depression and Dietary Supplements
by Kevin Caruso
Some people who suffer from depression do not respond to drug therapy, but do
respond to dietary supplements.
Others use a combination of drugs and supplements. Whatever you choose to do, please
consult with your doctor and psychiatrist first.
There are many supplements available. And you never know which supplements may make a difference for you, thus you should try one option after the other until you find the best supplements for you.
And remember that what works for somebody else may not work for you.
But please consult your doctor and psychiatrist to ensure that you do not take a combination of supplements and/or drugs that are not recommended. Always make sure that you receive clearance from both your doctor and your psychiatrist before proceeding.
Never experiment on your own. Obtain all of the information that you can on supplements, including the possible side effects, talk with your doctor and psychiatrist, and then proceed. And continue to consult with your doctor and psychiatrist throughout your usage of any supplements.
St. John's Wort is derived from a plant and is a popular supplement for depression. Many people who have used St. John's Wort believe that it is just as effective as antidepressant drugs in treating depression, but with fewer side effects. Others believe the effect is minimal or non-existent. But, again, each person is different, so St. John's Wort may or may not work for you.
Many people with depression take three 300mg capsules per day, for a total of 900mg per day. And many people start by taking one capsule a day to see if they experience any side effects.
You should conduct additional research and consult with your doctor and psychiatrist to determine what would be the best dosage for you.
Please keep in mind that when you purchase St. John's Wort, you are purchasing a dietary supplement, and dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Thus, you may find a great difference between the various brands of St John's Wort. If you try one brand and do not have success with it, you may want to try some other brands
before you give up on it. Ask for recommendations from your doctor, psychiatrist, and health food store manager.
Another supplement that you can consider is SAM-e (S-adenoslmethionine).
SAM-e is a naturally occurring compound found in all living creatures. The body uses it for many important biochemical reactions, including the manufacture of neurotransmitters in the brain, and thus can help some individuals effectively treat their depression.
Dosage recommendations vary, but some take 400mg four times a day for a total of 1600mg a day. Consult with your doctor and psychiatrist before taking SAM-e.
Flaxseed oil is another excellent supplement. Flaxseed oil provides essential fatty acids (EFAs), such as omega-3 and omega-6, which are essential for many bodily functions, including brain function. Studies indicate that low levels of EFAs may be associated with depression.
Flaxseed oil is available at most health food stores. Just take one tablespoon of flaxseed oil once a day. It may not taste great, but it is great for you. You can take the tablespoon of flaxseed oil with breakfast.
Selenium is another supplement that has worked for some people. Selenium is a trace mineral and is an antioxidant (antioxidants help protect cells from free radicals). Keep in mind that selenium can be toxic at high doses, so do not take too much. There is no scientific evidence to support treatment of depression with selenium, but anecdotally, it seems to work for some people. The additional antioxidant aspect of selenium also may be helpful to your health. So, as long as you do not take too much, it should not be problematic for you to use it.
Many people take 200-400mg of selenium per day. Please consult with your doctor and psychiatrist before taking selenium.
5-HTP (5-hydoxytryptophan) is another supplement that some have used with success. 5-HTP converts to serotonin, and serotonin is an important neurotransmitter in the brain.
Long-term data on 5-HTP usage is not available, and thus it is advisable to take the minimum effective dosage, and perhaps not to take it continually.
Many people take dosages between 20-50mg per day.
Some people who take 5-HTP experience gasrto-intestinal problems. If that should occur, contact your doctor. And please consult with your doctor and psychiatrist before you take 5-HTP.
5-HTP is made in the body from the essential amino acid tryptophan.
Some people have thus had success taking tryptophan (L-tryprophan). Low levels of tryptophan can result in low serotonin levels. Tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP, and then into serotonin.
But because taking tryptophan requires a two-step process, instead of a one-step process, for conversion to serotonin, it is recommended to take 5-HTP instead of tryptophan.
Some people have also had success with tyrosine (L-tyrosine), particularly when used in conjunction with 5-HTP.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that is a precursor of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
Tyrosine should be taken 30 minutes before meals, three times a day. Many people
take 500 to 1,000 mg for each dosage, for a total of 1,500 to 3,000 mg per per day.
Consult with your doctor and psychiatrist before taking tyrosine.
Magnesium supplementation has helped some people. Magnesium is a mineral, and is necessary
for numerous biochemical reactions in the body.
Dosages vary, but some people take 200 to 400 mg three times a day, for a total of
600 to 1200 mg per day. Consult with your doctor and psychiatrist before taking magnesium.
Kava Kava is another supplement that has helped some people. It is an herb that may promote relaxation, relieve anxiety,
relieve depression, and may help some people sleep better.
Many people take 45-70mg three times a day. Consult with your doctor and pshychiatrist before taking kava kava.
B-complex vitamins are extremely important to anyone with depression. Studies indicate that deficiencies in B vitamins can cause depression. Viamins B6, B9(folate, folic acid),
and B12 are particularly important to anyone who is depressed. So, take a good multivitamin with high levels of B-complex vitamins. Consult with your doctor, psychiatrist, and health food store manager for
recommendations on the best multivitamins.
To summarize, many supplements can help improve your depression. Some people who do not respond to drug therapy, respond to supplements. So, keep all of your options open. You don't know what might work for you. But always consult with your doctor and psychiatrist before you take supplements, and make sure you do as much research as possible on your own about the supplements, and that you understand the possible side effects. Also, always contact your doctor immediately if you experience any side effects.
I wish you the very best.
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