Best Natural Supplements for Depression

The Best Natural Supplements for Anxiety & Depression

Written by Jason Vredenburg
In this article, we look at the common natural supplements with links to the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Depressed Young Woman
Resolve your anxiety with safe & best natural supplements. Shutterstock Images

What are anti-depressant supplements?

These are natural substances that research has found can lower feelings of depression and increase positive mood. Depression is a mental illness which includes symptoms like sadness and worthlessness, low energy, exhaustion, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and agitation. These symptoms must exist for at least two weeks for it to be classified as clinical depression.

For people who do not want to take prescription anti-depressant medication or who only have mild depression[1], there are some very effective natural alternatives. These include vitamins, amino acids, fats, and other substances.

Certain foods and a general program of nutrition can be geared towards reducing feelings of depression and increasing positive mood. In this way, nutrition can act as a type of supplement. Of course, it’s often the case that depression itself could stem from a nutritional deficiency of a substance like vitamin D or chromium. That’s all the more reason to try some of these natural anti-depressant supplements[2].

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What are the best supplements to treat depression?

There are aspects of your nutritional health that influence mood, which means you can modify your eating habits to increase positive mood. Uneven blood sugar levels are often implicated in mood difficulties, be they too high or too low. Working to keep your blood sugar even will help improve your mood. Don’t overdo the carbohydrates and stay away from refined sugar.

Folic acid is another substance that plays a role in depression and mood difficulties in general. Low levels of folic acid can have an impact on mood, as can elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine. Taking B vitamins can be very effective in elevating positive mood.

Taking in foods that contain amino acids has a positive effect on mood, because many of these amino acids lead to the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that increases good mood. Amino acids are found in foods that have elevated levels of protein, like eggs, meat, beans, and fish.

Research has shown that eating foods that contain the mineral chromium[3] has a positive effect on people with depression. One of chromium’s main roles is to regulate blood sugar. Foods rich in chromium include broccoli, green beans, potatoes, chicken, beef, dairy products, whole grain, bananas, and apples.

The top supplements to treat depression are as follows:

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: There’s some evidence that this fatty acid is an effective treatment for depression[4], but the results are inconclusive. You can get this substance naturally by eating walnuts, flaxseed or oil, and cold-water fish.
  • St John’s Wort: This substance is an effective supplement to treat depression[5]. However, it interacts with quite a number of medications, rendering them much less effective. It’s best to take this if you aren’t taking other medications – particularly anti-depressants.
  • 5-HTTP: This brain chemical initiates the production of serotonin, another brain chemical that is responsible for mood. Taking more of this chemical will initiate the production of additional serotonin, which can improve mood.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): This hormone exists naturally in your body already, and it has been associated with depression. At a high dose, there are side effects.
  • Saffron: It may increase positive mood, but it should be taken in low doses. At high doses, there are significant side effects.

Are anti-depressants highly addictive?

Medication

Antidepressants are a type of medication used to treat clinical depression or prevent it recurring. Shutterstock Images

In terms of prescription anti-depressants, evidence shows that they are addictive[6]. In a study that took place in New Zealand, researchers concluded that a considerable number of the 1800 participants felt that they were addicted to their anti-depressants.

At least half of the participants said that they had experienced withdrawal symptoms in the past when going off their anti-depressant medication. Regular use leads to dependence, and dependence can turn to addiction.

In contrast, none of the non-prescription anti-depressant supplements have any addictive properties. Not to say that they don’t have their own side effects, but dependence and addiction aren’t on the list.

Do anti-depressants change your personality?

Research shows that anti-depressants do change your personality, in two very specific ways. They lower levels of neuroticism, which is linked with a very negative pattern of thinking. They also increase levels of extroversion, meaning the user becomes more positive, friendlier, and more open. These personality characteristics are associated with lower levels of depression.

How long should you be on anti-depressant supplements?

It’s essential that you speak to your family physician before you take any anti-depressant supplement, to make sure that they don’t interact with any of your prescription medications. At that point, you should discuss the length of time to take the supplement. There’s no time limit for any of these medications, so follow your physician’s instructions.

Final Words

Clearly, anti-depressants supplements are effective in reducing levels of depression. However, prescription depression medication tends to be quite addictive, while supplements have no addictive properties whatsoever. There are several natural substances which are very effective in lowering levels of depression and increasing positive mood, including saffron, 5-HTP, and St. John’s Wort. These may be viable alternatives to prescription medications, especially if you’re experiencing mild depression.

Make sure that you discuss this possibility with your doctor before starting any regimen and get his/her approval. Any change to your health regimen should be approved by your doctor. It’s important to note that taking a prescription anti-depressant at the same time as taking an anti-depressant supplement is not recommended at all. In fact, it can be harmful to your health.

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