Man With Depression

Supplements For Depression

Man With DepressionWere you aware that 1 in 20 Americans over the age of 12 struggles with depression, and 11% of the US population over the age of 12 is on antidepressant meds?  Evidence shows that antidepressants are no better than placebo, as far as effectiveness.  

Findings were noted in a 2014 paper on antidepressants and the placebo effect, and published in the journal Zeitchrift Fur Psychologie.  They are quoted by saying “Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain.” Apparently analyses of the published data, as well as the unpublished that were hidden by drug companies, reveal that most of the benefits are due to the placebo effect.  

The serotonin theory has been proven through research published in 2009, indicating the low serotonin idea was incorrect.  There were strong indications that depression actually begins further up the chain of events in the brain.  Mental health problems are actually linked to elevated levels of serotonin in the amygdala, not low levels.    Amygdala is the seat of primitive emotions such as fear, and the more serotonin produced in this area, the more anxious you feel.

Vitamins and supplements boost the effectiveness of antidepressants, according to a recent study. The study “The Meta-analysis” was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry that found certain nutritional supplements boosted the effectiveness of several classes of antidepressants.

Is it possible that supplement alone could be responsible for improvements?  More of the patients in the studies showed an improvement in mood when prescribed omega-3 fish oil, methylfolate, vitamin D and SAMe supplements in combination with antidepressant medication, compared to those who took only the medicine.  A comparison is missing by comparing the taking of supplements only, medication only, and a combination of both supplements and medication.

One of the important healthy fats lacking in the Americans’ diet is Omega-3.  Omega-3s are most well know for their role in heart health, but they also play an integral role in brain and mental health.

Vitamin D receptors show up in a wide variety of the brain tissue early on in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase the nerve growth in your brain. Optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect your brain cells.  Low vitamin D is repeatedly linked to depression.

There are other supplements and habits that are shown to lessen depression symptoms. SAMe, an amino acid derivative occurring naturally in all cells plays a role in biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines.  Studies show that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.

Your diet and general lifestyle are factors that must be optimized to resolve mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.  The drug treatments available today for depression fail in addressing people’s mental health problems, while adding one or more supplements to the treatment is a step in the right direction.  Other safe effective ways to address depression is to eat real organic food and avoid processed food, sugar, grains and GMOs.  Further ways are to increase consumption of fermented and cultured foods, get adequate vitamin B12, optimize your vitamin D levels, get plenty of Omega-3 fats, watch salt intake, get adequate daily exercise, get enough sleep and use energy psychology techniques such as Emotional Freedom Techniques.

-Dr Fredda Branyon

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