Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects 1 in 10 Americans and based on the symptoms, depression can vary from mild to severe.
Signs And Symptoms
- A lack of interest in daily life activities such as eating, working, playing, etc.
- Prolonged melancholy and a general feeling of sadness
- Constant Fatigue
- Lack of sleep and/or appetite
- Lack of interest in otherwise fun activities
- Feeling ‘worthless’, guilty, helpless, hopeless
- Difficulty remembering everyday things or concentrating
- A suicidal tendency is also observed in severe cases.
What Triggers Depression?
There are many factors and reasons which can trigger depression. Some of them are:
- A sudden death of a loved one or an emotionally altering life event.
- A family history of depression.
- A life-threatening incident such as an accident.
- Other psychiatric illness
- Chronic or long-lasting physical illnesses
The journey of treatment for a person with depression begins with the realization that he/she needs to seek help for his/her state. Treatment for depression involves taking anti-depressants and individual or group therapy sessions with counsellors and psychologists.
Are Supplements For Depression Useful?
Our mental well-being directly impacts the body and vice-versa; individuals with depression tend to have low levels of vitamins and minerals that add to the fatigue and associated deficiency symptoms. Additionally, the adverse drug reactions and habit-forming nature of anti-depressants have prompted mental health care providers to explore supplements as an alternative option to treating depression.
Dietary supplements are concentrated sources of nutrients that our body needs, but they may not be adequately absorbed from our diet.
Several supplements are also natural and healthy. They can be cost effective and are far less risky than medications, when used in the right dosages.
Science Confirms It
A Norwegian study found that people with low levels of Vitamin D are more prone to developing depression. Furthermore, a gradual decline in the symptoms of depression was observed when patients were given Vitamin D as dietary supplements. This decline was reportedly more in the patients with ‘severe depression’.
Additional statistics indicate an increase in the cases of depression during winters, when our natural source of vitamin D, i.e., the sun exposure duration is lower. This condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
Dietary supplements that have stood the test of time and are being prescribed at several reputed hospitals in the U.S. today are:
This is especially effective for women suffering from depression. The advisable dosage for adults is 400 micrograms per day.
Vitamin B 12
The importance of B12 in optimal brain function has been long recognized. Including vitamin B12 at a daily dose of 1mg has shown promising results in helping with depression. Sublingual versions – both liquid and lozenges are often more effective than capsules.
This enhances the synthesis of neurotransmitters, and helps in uplifting your mood. Mental health clinicians prescribe 400 to 1600mg of SAMe per day.
Omega 3 fatty Acids
This is a great alternative for people who do not eat fish as it helps stabilise mood. A prescribed amount of 1-2g of Omega 3 fatty acid may help alleviate depression symptoms.
St. John’s Wort
This is an herbal supplement, also called Ignatia Amara, and is widely used across Europe to help with depression and anxiety. It is safe to be administered and 2-3 capsules (900-1800mg) per day has been used in studies.
Research has shown good evidence for use of dietary supplements to help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, since they are yet to be included in the therapy guidelines followed by most doctors, their stand-alone use is an ongoing debate. Involving a qualified naturopathic physician or health care provider who understands the value of supplements in treating depression will help you reduce your dependence on anti-depression medications and regain your mental health and cheer.
If you would like to understand more about how dietary supplements can help you clear brain fog, help you focus better, be sharper at cognitive tasks, read this. Diet too can play a huge role in how you feel. Learn more about your body and mind. Make nature your ally. Keep smiling, naturally.