Q&A: Treating Depression Naturally

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Filed Under: Q&As, Mood & Memory
Last Reviewed 03/28/2014

Tell me how to treat depression naturally.

Q&A: Treating Depression Naturally

Most people are familiar with today’s popular drug treatments for depression: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs have many adverse side effects, and I strongly recommend that you do not use them.

If you are taking an SSRI, talk with your physician about tapering off the drug gradually. (Discontinuing these drugs abruptly without medical supervision could be very harmful.)

If you have mild-to-moderate depression, clinical studies suggest that the following natural antidepressants, which are available in health-food stores, are every bit as effective as drugs, treating depression naturally:

  • S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) elevates serotonin levels and balances other neurotransmitters, which strongly influences your sense of well-being. Studies show that 70 percent of depressed patients who try SAMe notice improvements in mood within days. The recommended starting dose for treating depression naturally is 200 mg twice a day on an empty stomach, before breakfast and before lunch. If needed, you can build up to a maximum of 800 mg per dose after a couple of weeks.

  • St. John’s wort is an herbal antidepressant that is also very effective in treating depression naturally. In fact, in one study, it outperformed Paxil. The usual dose is 300 mg three times daily with meals. This herb interacts adversely with a number of drugs, including antidepressants, Coumadin, theophylline, digoxin and oral contraceptives. Check with your doctor for a complete list before starting this herb.

  • 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is another effective herbal antidepressant. A natural precursor to serotonin, it increases levels of this neurotransmitter, treating depression naturally. A dose of 50–100 mg at bedtime on an empty stomach is often enough to lift mood and facilitate sleep. If necessary, you can gradually build up to a maximum of 100 mg three times daily, taken on an empty stomach.

Note: If you have severe depression, seek the help of a professional.

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