The use of antidepressants is so widespread in the US, that according to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 16% Americans between the ages of 45 and 64 use antidepressants. Another 72% people above 65 are popping pills. The use of antidepressants in women is even more prevalent, with over 25% of women between 40 and 59 taking them.
SSRIs, as mentioned before, are the most commonly used antidepressants. Traditional drugs in this category include Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa, etc. These drugs focus on increasing the serotonin levels in the body to treat depression. Unfortunately, these antidepressants may not always work. They also come with a whole range of side effects, from sex-related issues to weight gain, diabetes, and blood pressure.
So if prescription antidepressant drugs are not working for you, or you are just tired of their side effects, you should try one of these natural anti-depressant supplements. It is worth remembering that these supplements should not be taken without consulting your doctor first. Many of these supplements work by increasing serotonin levels in the body. If you are already taking medication for that, it is not advisable to take these natural supplements as well.
- St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort or Hypericum perforatum is a natural anti-depressant supplement that has been clinically proven to treat depression effectively. Research shows that St. John’s Worth as multidimensional effects on the body. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties that boost the immune system. It helps treat depression by regulating levels of serotonin, dopamine, neurotransmitters GABA and norepinephrine.
Chronic depression sufferers may find this natural anti-depressant supplement doing wonders for them. It is highly recommended for those who suffer from long-term depression like dysthymia. Required dosage will depend on your level of depression, but it can range anywhere between 900mg to 1500 mg per day.
Be careful about using St. John’s Wort with other medicines including SSRIs. Research shows that it adversely affects contraceptive pills as well as immunosuppressants. A couple of other studies have shown it to enhance the efficacy of Plavix, the anti-clotting drug. In any case, it is best to consult your doctor before taking St. John’s Wort.
5-HTP or 5-hyrdroxytryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body that is made from tryptophan and broken down into serotonin and melatonin, a sleep hormone. It is one of the most popular natural anti-depressant supplements out there used to treat depression and anxiety.
The focus of HTP is to give the body increased levels of serotonin, thereby elevating mood. It has a high propensity to cross into the brain and therefore is quite effective in treating mental health issues.
Much research has been conducted on the use of 5-HTP as an anti-depressant. While most of the information is inconclusive at best, many researchers, backed by clinical results, believe it works well in the short-term. Research suggests that it is also beneficial for insomnia and weight loss. The recommended dosage for the treatment of depression ranges from 150mg – 300 mg a day.
The intake of 5-HTP may result in nausea. It is also known to clash with SSRIs, sleeping pills and other natural anti-depressant supplements like L-tryptophan, SAM-e, and St. John’s Wort. Excessive usage can also cause serotonin syndrome, which in extreme cases can be lethal. While 5-HTP has been known to work for depression, it is not advisable to use in the long-term since, even though increases serotonin level, it also diminishes dopamine levels, another factor behind depression.
Instead of 5-HTP, you can also take L-tryptophan supplements to increase serotonin levels in the body. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is broken down into 5-HTP and then serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan has been proven to be quite useful as a natural anti-depressant supplement.
Although tryptophan is found abundantly in foods, the supplement is known to work better. So if you’re looking to treat depression naturally, tryptophan supplements are the way to go. Tryptophan is completely safe to use, but like 5-HTP is should not be taken with SSRIs or other medications.
According to the International Journal of Tryptophan Research, L-tryptophan synthesis is a major determent of mood. Clinical trials have proved L-tryptophan’s effectiveness for the treatment of depression.
SAM-e, short for S-adenosylmethionine, is also a naturally occurring chemical in the human body. It assists the working of neurotransmitters and therefore improves brain function. It has also been known to provide relief for arthritis and joint-related issues.
SAM-e has been comprehensively researched for its usefulness against depression. Over 20,000 people have been subject to trials, with results showing it to be very effective, especially for treating depression in seniors. It has been found to be completely safe to use for everyone, including children. The best thing about this natural anti-depressant supplement is that it is fast acting, working its magic within a few days compared to SSRIs that can take up to 4-6 weeks.
Another great thing of SAM-e is that it does not clash with other SSRIs or natural anti-depressant supplements. It is always advisable to talk to your doctor before you use SAM-e with other medication, but it has been clinically proven to enhance the effectiveness of SSRIs. As mentioned before, you don’t want to elevate your serotonin levels too much so be careful of what you take.
Dosing depends on your level of depression and ranges from 400mg – 1600mg daily. Dosing starts slowly and then is built up as the body gets used to it.
Most of you probably know saffron as a culinary delight, but not many know that it is one of the better natural anti-depressant supplements out there. This amazing herb is one of nature’s most treasured healing agents. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that improve the overall health of the body. Saffron is especially good for the digestive tract, and since most of the neurotransmitters are made there, research shows that saffron can elevate mood. It is most beneficial for the treatment of mild depression, and its results have often been equated to that of Prozac minus the side effects.
Saffron works similarly to SSRIs in that it increases serotonin levels in the body which in turn treats depression. But what makes it more compelling is that its other properties can reduce the side effects of SSRIs. It can also be used to address a host of other problems including weight gain and in fertility.
The recommended dosage of saffron is 30mg a day in two doses. It has not been found to have any side effects as such. But be careful while buying saffron supplements. The reason we say this is because this natural anti-depressant supplement is quite expensive and fake saffron is quite common. There are many herbs out there that are passed off as saffron by sellers, and you need to make sure you get it only from trustworthy suppliers.