Whereas most people already know all about the basic pill treatments for depression, researchers recently looked at 40 different trials with all kinds of nutritional supplements paired with antidepressant medications to see what might have an actual effect to bolster treatment. Published in American Journal of Psychiatry on April 26, 2016 - a research article titled "Ajunctive Nutraceuticals for Depression: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis" looks into multiple different nutrient supplements which they have termed "neutraceuticals" and their effects on patients with previously diagnosed depression already on medications.
The nutrients that the researchers looked at spanned far and wide, from vitamin D to Omega-3 (a type of fat found in fish oil), from zinc to folic acid. They calculated not just whether these nutrients had a positive or negative effect in each study, they also attempted to see which supplements had a stronger or weaker effect. In their results they note that the strongest and most positive effect of a nutrient supplement with medical therapy was omega-3 fatty acids. Other nutrients seemed to have a positive albeit more modest effect on symptoms, including vitamin D, SAM-e (or S-adenosylmethionine, a normal substrate found in the body), and methylfolate (the active form of folic acid).
Although the analysis was limited by a small number of studies with small sample sizes, the results also showed that there was no negative effect to taking these supplements. Since we clearly have a long way to go with our depression treatment and therapies, this may be another tool in the toolbox to help with depression treatment.
Author: Stephanie Garbarino