Common Supplements to Treat Depression

Updated on December 11th, 2019
Supplements for Depression

Do you feel sad all the time? Does the sadness or grief prevent you from performing your regular chores? Do you feel like you have been sleeping too much or not enough? Do you feel tired all the time, sometimes even to get out of bed in the morning? Does it feel like no one loves you, and no one would notice if you disappear from the world? If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, then there is a good chance that you are depressed.

Depression is an ailment that is often difficult to understand. Many don’t even realize they are suffering from depression till its too late. And also when they do, the taboo associated with mental ailments prevent them from seeking help. This is the tragedy of depression. It is a treatable condition, provided you reach out and get help.

Counseling, antidepressants, exercises, meditation, mindfulness, etc. are the usual treatment for depression. But, the first two are the most common. This post will talk about an alternative form of treatment that has proven to be very useful as well, taking supplements for depression.

Did You Know?

Side effects of antidepressants such as nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, loss of sexual desire, etc. are similar to the symptoms of depression.

Why Should You Use Supplements for Depression?


One of the most common forms of treatment for depression(1) is the prescription of antidepressants. While they are helpful in many cases, they also come with a host of side effects. Some of them are also addictive. Many of those who suffer from depression do not seek professional help due to the fear of being given antidepressants.

Now, it is essential to understand that some severe cases do need medications, and antidepressants are the best options you have. But for moderate cases, there are alternative treatment options.

Natural supplements that boost your mood, reduce anxiety and stress, and help treat depression are one of the options that you need to consider. The working of the supplements is similar to that of many antidepressants. A chemical imbalance causes depression in your brain due to various biological, social, and psychological factors.

Antidepressants try to deliver the feel-good chemicals that help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Well, guess what? Supplements can do the same minus the side effects.

The supplements are naturally occurring substances that can increase the levels of the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Some of them are purely made up of these chemicals but are derived from natural ingredients. Supplements are also readily available and easy to take.

[Also Read: How to Cure Depression with Natural Remedies?]

What Are Some Natural Supplements for Depression Treatment?

Here are the nine most effective natural supplements for treating depression.

1. Fish Oil

fish oil

Fish oil contains several Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These have made fish oil the holy grail of health supplements.

A review published in 2017 suggests that fish oil can be beneficial to those suffering from depression. It is believed that fish oil works in three ways towards this effect.

The Omega-3 acids can cause an anti-inflammatory effect on the neural cells. This is similar to the effect of antidepressants. The unsaturated fatty acids can also modify the membranes of the neural cells.

The modification results in increased signaling by the neurons. The acids can also modify the G-protein present in the membrane, leading to a similar increase in signaling. Patients suffering from depression display reduced signaling. Since the fatty acids counteract this effect, they become competent in treating depression.

A 1000 mg capsule of fish oil once a day is enough to show results. You should consult with your doctor to determine the ideal dosage.

2. Magnesium

Magnesium Benefits

Magnesium(2) is one of the most vital minerals for the proper functioning of brain cells and neurons. It is crucial for the adequate functioning of neurotransmitters, the pathways to the brain, hormones, and enzymes that are involved in regulating your mood.

It also helps in controlling the flow of calcium to the neurons. Too much calcium can lead to a decrease in the synaptic functioning in the neurons.

This means that the neurons won’t be able to communicate effectively with each other. Anything that affects the neurons ability to communicate and impacts their functioning will also increase the chances of the chemical imbalance that ultimately causes depression.

Research shows that taking 500 mg of magnesium supplements daily can help in treating depression. It starts showing a positive effect within two weeks on consumption. The results are also uniform across different age groups and genders. This makes magnesium for depression, one of the most effective treatments.

3. Vitamin D

vitamin D Benefits

Vitamins for depression is another nutrient that is important for the proper functioning of the brain. Vitamin D deficiency can cause abnormal growth of the brain cells and neurotransmitters. It is also necessary for the proper functioning of the neuroendocrine system in the brain.

A deficiency in this vitamin can affect the chemicals in the brain, and this can lead to depression. Seasonal depression that sets in during winter when there is less sunlight, and therefore, less vitamin D is an indication that vitamin D plays a role in preventing depression. Research has shown that vitamin D is effective in depression treatment.

Our bodies can synthesize vitamin D naturally when subjected to sunlight. But the climate conditions may not always permit this. Going out in the sun also exposes you to harmful ultraviolet radiation. Taking vitamin D supplements for depression is an excellent way to combat this issue.

Your body requires at least 600 IUs of vitamin D daily. You should consult with a doctor to determine the ideal dosage of vitamin D.


Did You Know?

Proper nutrition can help in fighting and avoiding depression.

4. B-Complex Vitamins

vitamin b3 benefits

Another vitamin that can help you with your depression is the B-complex vitamin. B-complex vitamins(3) play an essential role in controlling the chemicals that influence the mood. As such, it becomes necessary to maintain a healthy level of these vitamins in the body.

Improper diet and specific health conditions can lead to a low level of B-complex vitamins. This can further aggravate the existing depression or cause an onset of depression.

A 2013 study shows that patients with depression witnessed an improvement in their condition on taking regular B-complex vitamin supplements. It leads to a decrease in anxiety, growth in the overall mood, and the quality of life. Your body needs 2.4 mg of vitamin B-complex every day to function normally. You can consult a doctor, discuss your diet, and start taking an appropriate dosage of the vitamin for depression treatment.

[Also Read: Home Remedies for Depression]

5. SAM-e

S-adenosyl-L-methionine or SAM-e is a naturally occurring nutrient in your body. It can also be manufactured in a lab and taken as a supplement. This nutrient helps in the production of dopamine, serotonin, melatonin, and other such chemicals in the brain. All these chemicals have an impact on your mood. An increase or decrease in their levels is the cause of depression.

You can take this supplement orally or intravenously. Research shows that it is as effective as tricyclic antidepressants if taken intravenously. However, you may need to visit a doctor’s office every time to get a shot, and it is just not practical. The oral doses are also pretty useful in treating depression.

It is a more efficient method for receiving SAM-e and can be used regularly without any side-effects. Although there is no established dosage for SAM-e, around 800 mg twice a day was found to be helpful.

6. Theanine

Theanine Supplement

The soothing and calming effect that green tea has on your mental health can be attributed to this chemical. Theanine is a non-protein amino acid. It is most commonly found in tea.

Theanine can be easily absorbed by the body and produces a calming effect on your mood. It modulates the serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain and leads to an improvement in your mood.

It also increases the levels of neurotrophic factors. Neurotrophic factors are a family of biomolecules that play an essential role in the development of neurons. By helping the neurons develop and thrive, theanine ensures the proper their functioning and therefore helps in reducing depression.

Every study that attests to the benefit of green tea for depression is also doing the same for theanine. In addition to this, separate studies that specifically focused on theanine also showed that it could reduce the symptoms of depression, help with anxiety, and regulate sleep patterns.

[Also Read: Homeopathy for Depression

7. 5-HTP

5-HTP is an amino acid that your body produces from the protein building block L-tryptophan. Similar to most antidepressants, 5-HTP can increase the serotonin level in your brain. An increase in serotonin leads to an improvement in your mood and decrease the symptoms of depression.

It also helps in regulating the melatonin levels in your brain. Melatonin regulates your sleep cycle. Good sleep, coupled with an improvement in your mood enables you to overcome depression.

A study that compared the effects of 5-HTP with that of fluoxetine, an antidepressant, concluded that both had the same impact on patients suffering from depression. Unlike fluoxetine, 5-HTP does not have any side effects, making it the better choice.

5-HTP supplements are made from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia simplicifolia. This makes it a natural supplement and is entirely safe for consumption.

8. Zinc

Benefits of Zinc

Zinc is a trace element present in your body that plays a vital role in brain function. It is present in the hippocampus, amygdala, and cortex regions of the brain. It is also present in neurons that release glutamates, which is a neurotransmitter.

Zinc is absorbed by our bodies from dietary sources such as dairy, poultry, red meat, etc. However, stress can have a negative impact on the absorption of zinc.

Stress can also cause the body to expel zinc at a larger than normal rate. Stress is the leading cause of depression, and reduction in zinc levels can further aggravate the problem. This creates a dangerous cycle.

Research shows that zinc supplements can help with many psychological issues, including depression. By taking zinc supplements, you compensate for the zinc lost due to stress. This will increase the overall zinc levels and help treat depression.

[Also Read: Meditation for Depression]

Supplement Your Mental Health

Your mental well-being is as important as your physical well-being. But certain events that may be out of your control can make you depressed. The depression can take a toll on your physical health as well. With the help of the supplements mentioned above, you can overcome this illness. The supplements work well on their own, but in some cases, you may need to use them in conjunction with antidepressants.

You should always consult your doctor to determine which supplements would work best for you and the appropriate dosage. Not only do the supplements help treat depression, but they can also a host of positive effects on your overall health.


1. Is It Safe to Take Vitamin Supplements for Depression Treatment?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to take supplements for treating depression. They do not have any side effects. The supplements are nutrients or compounds that naturally occur in your body and will be tolerated well.

2. Should I Consult a Doctor Before Taking Natural Supplements for Depression?

You should always consult a doctor before taking any supplement. Certain supplements can interact with other medications that you are taking. A doctor can help you choose the right supplement and recommend the right dosage.

3. Are Supplements Effective in Treating Depression?

Extensive research has shown that many supplements are as effective as antidepressants. The supplements, along with regular counseling, will help you overcome depression and lead a more fulfilling life.

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