Over-the-Counter Products for Depression
Numerous prescription medications are available to treat the symptoms of depression, but over-the-counter supplements, vitamins and herbs may also help to improve your mood, boost your energy and relieve stress. It is important to check with your physician and carefully read dosage instructions on all over-the-counter products, as these may interact with other drugs or cause uncomfortable side effects.
Tyrosine, a nonessential amino acid, is a building block for neurotransmitters related to mood. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that is broken down into tyrosine. According to UMMC, deficiencies of phenylalanine are associated with depression. Tyrosine and phenylalanine supplements may help to improve mood.
Omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are components of nerve cells in the body. People with depression may benefit from increasing their omega-3 fatty acid intake, as it facilitates nerve cell communication and helps to maintain mental health.
S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a naturally occurring compound that supports cell membrane health and produces and breaks down neurotransmitters. UMMC says studies have shown that an injectable form of SAMe is as effective as other antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression, however, more research is needed to determine whether the oral over-the-counter forms are equally effective.
Serious deficiencies of Vitamins B6 (pyridoxine) and B9 (folate or folic acid) may be related to depression. According to UMMC, Vitamin B6 can increase serotonin levels in the brain, whereas folic acid may enhance the effect of prescription anti-depressants.
Vitamin D is formed by the skin when it is exposed to direct sunlight, helping the body maintain levels of calcium and phosphorus. According to UMMC, Vitamin D may improve mood in those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs during the winter due to decreased exposure to sunlight.
Flaxseed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseed and flaxseed oil can help promote nerve cell function and boost mood.
St. John's Wort is an ancient herb that has shown to be effective in treating mild or moderate depression. According to the National Institutes of Health, however, it may interact with other medications, including prescription antidepressants, birth control pills, protease inhibitors for HIV, theophylline, warfarin, digoxin, reserpine, cyclosporine or loperamide. Consult with your physician before taking St. John's Wort.
Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement that has shown mixed results in the treatment of depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have not shown it to be effective in treating SAD, but it may be helpful in treating depression among the elderly. Gingko biloba may interact with various medications, so check with your doctor before using it.
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