Here are some common alternative treatments that are used for depression.
Herbal remedies and supplements
St. John’s wort:Known scientifically as Hypericum perforatum, this is an herb that’s been used for centuries to treat a variety of ills, including depression. It’s not approved by the FDA to treat depression in the United States. Rather, it’s classified as a dietary supplement. However, it’s a popular treatment in Europe for mild or moderate depression. But, it can interfere with other depression medicines, as well as some drugs used to treat people with heart disease, seizures, cancer and organ transplant.
SAMe: Pronounced “sammy,” this is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. The name is short for S-adenosylmethionine. It’s not approved by the FDA to treat depression in the United States. Rather, it’s classified as a dietary supplement. Side effects are usually minimal, but SAMe can trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Eating a diet rich in omega-3s or taking omega-3 supplements may help ease depression, especially when used in addition to standard depression treatments. These healthy fats are found in cold-water fish, flaxseed, flax oil, walnuts and some other foods.
Folate: Low levels of folate, a B vitamin, may cause a slowed response to some antidepressants. Taking folate supplements (folic acid) may be helpful when used in addition to antidepressants. Ask your doctor what amount is right for you.
Mind-body techniques that may be tried to ease depression symptoms include:
- Guided imagery
- Massage therapy