Nutrtional Suppliments Shown to Reduce symptoms of Depression, Potentially Rendering Antidepressant Medications Obsolete
Although antidepressant use is at an all time high, so too are suicide rates. Fortunately, where antidepressants fall short, nature might have the cure. According to a recent international study, nutritional supplements can significantly reduce symptoms of depression, which has the potential to render several antidepressant prescriptions obsolete.
Researchers from the Universities of Melbourne and Harvard reviewed numerous international studies to examine the impact that nutritional supplements had on people taking antidepressants. Omega-3 fish oils, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), methylfolate and vitamin D were shown to be effective at curbing symptoms of depression and boosting overall mood.
Omega-3s help curb symptoms of depression
Among all the nutrients considered, omega-3 fish oil proved to be the most beneficial. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential amino acids, meaning they are not produced by the body but must be obtained through diet. In fact, approximately 60 percent of the brain is made of fat and DHA, a type of omega-3 amino acid. Previous studies have suggested that omega-3s can help prevent brain cells from shrinking, a telltale sign of dementia. The results of the recent study were published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
“The strongest finding from our review was that Omega-3 fish oil, in combination with antidepressants, had a statistically significant effect over a placebo,” Dr. Jerome Sarris, lead author of the study, said in a press release. “Many studies have shown Omega-3s are very good for general brain health and improving mood, but this is the first analysis of studies that looks at using them in combination with antidepressant medication. The difference for patients taking both antidepressants and Omega-3, compared to a placebo, was highly significant.”
The researchers also found sufficient evidence that methylfolate, vitamin D, and SAMe could help patients better their mood. The team reported mixed results for zinc, vitamin C and tryptophan. Neither folic acid or inositol worked well in the study.
The participants in this study were taking antidepressants. At a general level, SSRIs are overly prescribed, and in many cases, unnecessary. Almost all cases of depression, from anxiety to eating disorders, are lumped together under a single category and treated with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). In many cases, depression is brought about by a nutritional deficiency, which can be corrected with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Suicide rates on the rise despite mass prescription of SSRIs
Unfortunately, SSRIs do not actually cure the underlining cause of depression. They simply disrupt bodily processes to increase levels of “feel good” chemicals in the brain like serotonin. Eventually, the brain of the SSRI user struggles to restore serotonin levels. This can cause the mind to behave in an typical manner. As a result, those who quit taking antidepressants cold turkey may experience side effects like withdraw, making it difficult to function without the drug.
Prozac was the first SSRI to make its way into the U.S. market in 1988. By 2005, SSRIs were widely prescribed in the country. What is ironic is that, in 2006, the country’s suicide rate rose by 2 percent. In fact, according to fresh statics provided by the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall suicide rate increased by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014. Although there are various factors that contribute to the spike in suicide rates, it’s clear antidepressants are not having their intended effect on a mass scale.
There is no sign that America’s dependency on antidepressants will wane anytime soon. Regardless, the results of the study are promising and offer a glimpse of how depression might be treated rather than simply medicated.
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