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Alternatives to drugs for depression

MagazineMarch 1998 (Vol. 8 Issue 12)Alternatives to drugs for depression

There are many better alternatives than drugs for depression

There are many better alternatives than drugs for depression. Here's a short summary. For more detailed information, see WDDTY, vol 6 no 6, and the WDDTY Guide to Mental Health. For a full report of which alternative treatments have the most scientific evidence of success, see our sister publication PROOF!, vol 2 no 1.

* Diet
Make sure you have enough fat in your diet from mono- or polyunsaturated fats. Cut out caffeine and refined sugar, which have been linked to depression.

* Supplements
Take B vitamins, particularly B6, and folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and B12, lower levels of which have been linked to depression in patients. Other important mood regulators include vitamin C, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium and the omega-6 fatty acids.

* Herbs
At least 23 studies have proved that St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is as effective as most antidepressants with far fewer side effects (BMJ, 1996; 313: 253-8). Other herbs with scientific evidence of success include Siberian ginseng and Forskolin.

* Talking cures
Therapy with a trained psychotherapist (not a psychiatrist, who may only prescribe drugs) has been shown to be just as effective as antidepressants.

* Natural mood regulators
Unfortunately, most of these aren't on the market, but L-phenylalanine, an essential amino acid, has been shown to improve mood in depressed people.


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