Dr. Mishoulon says depression is a psychiatric disorder which manifests itself primarily with a depressed mood—the person may feel sad, down or blue for most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of at least one month, and often longer. Left untreated, depression can become more difficult to treat over time, he says. If you think you or a loved one is depressed, Dr. Mischoulon says it is critical to get a professional evaluation, rather than self-diagnose.
Because of the potential risks associated with drug interactions and improper dosages, Dr. Mischoulon says natural remedies for depression should be used only under the guidance of a medical doctor and not as a substitute for professional help. With that in mind, he shares three over-the-counter remedies that may help treat the symptoms of depression:
Omega-3s: Dr. Mischoulon says preliminary studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils (not flaxseed) may be effective for treating depression. Taking a daily supplement may have other benefits to cardiovascular health and has few or no known side effects, he says.
St. John's Wort: Dr. Mischoulon says this plant-derived herbal remedy may be effective for treating particularly mild to moderate cases of depression.
S-Adenosyl Methionine: SAM or SAM-e (pronounced "sammy") is a natural compound all mammals manufacture that may alleviate the symptoms of depression, Dr. Mischoulon says. "By taking SAM-e, that could [potentially] result in the brain synthesizing and having available greater levels of the important neurotransmitters and that could reverse a depressed state," he says.