Are There Any Natural Remedies That Will Help Treat My Depression Such As Vitamins, Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Dr. Andrew Stoll answers the question: 'Natural Remedies To Treat Depression?'

ByABC News
February 27, 2008, 3:46 PM

— -- Question: Are there any natural remedies that will help treat my depression such as vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids?

Answer: There are other natural treatments that are used in the treatment of depression and even bipolar disorder. One of the best studied treatments are omega-3 fatty acids, which are from fish oil, which has made the press so some people have heard about this.

There's actually more data for using omega-3 fatty acids added on to SSRI antidepressants like Prozac or Zoloft for the treatment of depression that hasn't responded to the drug alone. And in the four studies that have been published, adding the omega-3 worked much better than just adding a placebo to the antidepressant.

So there actually is some data supporting the use of omega-3s and omega-3s have almost no down side. They're actually helpful to add to people's diets because we don't get enough of them in our diets anyway and they're necessary for the proper function of a lot of organs in your body, not just your brain, especially the heart.

And there's a range of other natural treatments too, things like S-adenosyl-L-methionine, which is better known as SAMe; S-A-M-e, SAMe. Also available over-the-counter, it's been studied in major depression as well. But if someone has bipolar disorder, manic depressive illness, it's actually somewhat risky to be using SAMe without a doctor's supervision because SAMe can actually induce mania, even more readily than some antidepressant drugs.

So even though people think natural treatments are totally safe, they're not always safe and you need to work with your doctor around this. And there's a lot of information out there and a lot of doctors aren't aware of this information because the information came out more recently then when they were in their training. And drug companies don't go to doctor's offices to talk about fish oils, St. John's Wort and SAMe because no drug company owns the patent for these things so the doctors have to find this information out on their own. Often times, patients bring the information into the doctor, discuss it with the doctor and then they're often given the treatment. But you have to be open to these ideas.

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