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Researchers Investigate Supporting Antidepressants with Supplements

A review published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found certain dietary supplements may increase the effectiveness of antidepressants. While research like this can be intriguing, it’s important to bear in mind that sometimes medications and supplements have unwanted interactions. Your safest bet is to talk with your healthcare practitioner if you're interested in adding a supplement to your healthcare regimen. The review included findings from 40 clinical trials that investigated the combined use of supplements and antidepressants such as SSRIs, SNRIs, and tricyclics. Researchers found several supplements helped reduce depressive symptoms when combined with antidepressants, specifically:

  • Repeated studies showed primarily positive results for combined treatment with antidepressants plus S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), methylfolate, omega-3 (primarily EPA or ethyl-EPA), and vitamin D compared with antidepressants alone.
  • Single studies showed positive results for combined treatment with antidepressants plus creatine, folinic acid, and an amino acid combination compared with antidepressants alone.
  • The strongest evidence showed omega-3 fatty acids, in conjunction with antidepressants, had highly significant, positive results compared with placebo.
  • Studies combining other supplements, including zinc, vitamin C, and tryptophan, with antidepressants showed mixed results, while adding folic acid and inositol to antidepressant therapy showed no benefit.
  • Aside from minor indigestion, the supplement–antidepressant combinations did not appear to cause adverse side effects.

This is important research as hundreds of millions of people worldwide take antidepressants and some have yet to find a treatment that works for them. As researchers continue to explore the potential supportive relationships between supplements and medications, perhaps new treatment approaches to depression will be developed. In the meantime, if you have depression, talk with your healthcare practitioner to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Source: American Journal of Psychiatry

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