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 Depression is a mood disorder and the actual numbers are thought to be much higher because many people with depression do not seek treatment for a variety of reasons. Depression can be helped by lifestyle changes, including changing your diet and taking certain supplements, which may also help people with depression.

This article lists supplements that may benefit people with depression.

Omega-3 fatty acids
Some research suggests that omega-3 supplements may help treat depression.

A 2020 analysis of randomized controlled trials in women found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids significantly improved depressive symptoms in pregnant and postpartum women. In this study, supplements with a higher ratio of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were particularly effective. EPA and DHA are two types of Omega-3 fatty acids,

One review found that omega-3 supplements had an overall positive effect on the treatment of depressive symptoms.

Research concluded that omega-3 preparations containing 60% or more EPA in doses of 1 gram or less per day are most effective.

Although these findings are encouraging, other studies have observed mixed results. For example, a 2019 study found that omega-3 supplementation did not reduce depressive symptoms in children and adolescents with MDD.

Overall, omega-3 supplements are well tolerated and can be a healthy addition to the diet if fatty fish is lacking. They may also help treat depression in some people. However, more research is needed.

NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
Glutathione is considered one of the most important antioxidants in the body and is essential for regulating inflammation and protecting cells from oxidative damage.

Taking NAC has been shown to have a variety of health benefits, including increasing the body's glutathione levels.

Research shows that people with depression are more likely to have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines such as C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Taking NAC may help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of depression.

In addition, NAC can improve neurotransmitter imbalance in patients with psychosis. Dysregulation of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamate may be associated with mood disorders and schizophrenia.

A 2016 review of studies concluded that NAC treatment significantly reduced depressive symptoms and improved functioning in patients with depression compared with placebo treatment. Plus, NAC supplements are safe and well-tolerated.

A spice packed with antioxidants, including carotenoids, saffron has shown promise as a natural treatment for depression.

Research shows it can increase levels of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Although it's unclear how this process works, it's thought that saffron inhibits serotonin reuptake, allowing it to remain in the brain longer.

An analysis of five randomized controlled trials found that saffron supplementation significantly reduced depressive symptoms in adults with MDD compared with placebo treatment.

However, the researchers acknowledge that larger follow-up, with longer follow-up periods, is needed to better assess saffron's ability to help treat depression.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a key nutrient and many people, including those with depression, have insufficient levels.

Research shows that people with depression are more likely to be vitamin D deficient. People with the condition often have lower levels of vitamin D than the general population, and people with depression have the most pronounced symptoms of depression.

Vitamin D may combat depression through multiple mechanisms, including reducing inflammation, regulating mood, and preventing neurocognitive dysfunction.

A 2019 review found that vitamin D supplementation has clinical benefits for people with major depressive disorder.

Additionally, a 2020 study of depressed patients with vitamin D deficiency found that a single injection of vitamin D, along with regular treatment, significantly improved depressive symptoms, quality of life, and disease severity.

However, a 2020 research review concluded that although vitamin D levels are linked to depressive symptoms and supplements may help, more evidence is needed before vitamin D can be recommended as a universal treatment for depression.

Rhodiola rosea
What herbs and supplements can help fight depression?
Rhodiola rosea is an herb associated with a variety of potential health benefits when taken in supplement form. These include reducing symptoms of depression and improving stress response, which can help your body adapt to stressful situations.

The herb may have antidepressant effects through its ability to enhance nerve cell communication and reduce overactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocorticoid (HPA) axis.

The HPA axis is a complex system that regulates the body's stress response. Research suggests that HPA axis overactivity may be associated with major depression.

Some research suggests that supplementing with rhodiola rosea may benefit people with depression.

For example, a study of 57 patients with depression found that taking 340 mg of rhodiola rosea extract daily for 12 weeks was effective in reducing depressive symptoms by a clinically significant amount.

And, while Rhodiola rosea therapy is less effective than the antidepressant Sertraline, it has far fewer side effects.

Another study found that a supplement consisting of rhodiola rosea and saffron significantly reduced depression and anxiety symptoms after 6 weeks in adults with mild to moderate depression.

B vitamins
B vitamins play an important role in neurological function and mood regulation. B vitamins required for the production and regulation of neurotransmitters.

Research shows that vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies may increase the risk of depression, and supplementing with these nutrients may help reduce depressive symptoms in some people.

For example, folic acid supplements may reduce symptoms of drug-resistant depression in children and adults with genetic mutations that affect folate metabolism.

When used with antidepressants, vitamin B12 supplementation can also reduce depressive symptoms in people with MDD.

A 2020 review similarly showed that taking vitamin B12 early may delay the onset of depression and improve the effectiveness of antidepressants.

Vitamin B6 has also been found to improve symptoms of depression when combined with other nutrients.

Zinc is a mineral critical for brain health and the regulation of neurotransmitter pathways. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Zinc deficiency is strongly associated with an increased risk of depression and depressive symptom severity.
An analysis of observational studies found that people with depression had lower blood zinc levels than those without the disease. The study also linked zinc deficiency to increased symptoms of depression.
Likewise, a review of studies found that when participants took zinc supplements along with antidepressants, their depressive symptoms were significantly reduced.

Other supplements that may help fight depression
In addition to the supplements mentioned above, research shows that the following treatments may benefit people with depression.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
SAMe is a sulfur-containing compound that shows promise in treating depression. It occurs naturally in your body and plays an important role in brain function.

A 2020 review of studies found that SAMe, when used alone or in combination with antidepressants, improved depressive symptoms in people with MDD.

St. John's Wort
What herbs and supplements can help fight depression?
St. John's wort is a popular herb that has shown promise in reducing symptoms in people with depression.

A 2016 review found that St. John's wort reduced symptoms in people with mild to moderate depression. However, this supplement has not been proven to be effective in treating severe depression.

Like many other herbs, St. John's wort has the potential to interact with commonly used medications. Importantly, this herb may interact seriously with some antidepressants.

Magnesium deficiency is common in people with depression, and studies show that magnesium supplementation can reduce symptoms of depression.

A randomized study of patients with mild to moderate depression found that taking magnesium daily significantly improved depressive symptoms compared with placebo.

Creatine is an organic acid that, among other functions, plays an important role in maintaining energy in the brain. Changes in brain energy levels are thought to be linked to the development of depression.

Some studies show that daily creatine supplementation can reduce symptoms in people with MDD.

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