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3 Natural anti-depressants to try before hitting a shrink’s couch

With over 19 million Americans suffering from depression, you can imagine how many people use prescriptive drugs to lift their moods. The downside of these drugs is their side effects: nausea, vomiting, nervousness, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and headaches.

If you think you have mild depression and are reluctant to see a psychiatrist, you could try natural anti-depressants that don’t require a physician’s prescription. If you’re taking other medication, do consult your pharmacist or a qualified herbalist for possible negative drug interactions.

Pronounced as “Sammy”, this natural anti-depressant is quite the recent superstar in the supplements circle. SAMe is actually S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine, which occurs in the body naturally. This natural remedy is often marketed as a mood brightener, while it is good for easing arthritic pain and liver problems.

A Harvard study proved that SAMe, when taken with anti-depressant drugs like Zoloft or Effexor, there was a 40 – 50 per cent improvement in patients who were depressed. Further research needs to be done as this study did not include a placebo group.

SAMe is derived from methionine that is an amino acid which is involved in many crucial biological processes. SAMe has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. On top of that, it even aids the production of brain chemicals like neurotransmitters.

B vitamins apparently increase the effectiveness of SAMe. The daily recommended dosage is 400 mg and a month’s supply can be anywhere between $18 to $50.

St. John’s wort
St. John’s wort (hypericum perforatum) is a well-known and widely researched herb. Many people in America and Europe turn to this natural remedy for mild to moderate depression. When compared with tricyclic anti-depressants (such as Tofranil and Tryptanol) St. John’s wort has been proven to be just as effective with fewer side effects. This seems to be the same with another popular class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) including Prozac and Paxil.

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is also a naturally occurring compound in the body like SAMe. It comes from the amino acid tryptophan. In the U.S., 5HTP has become fairly popular for its seratonin-boosting abilities. Aside from depression, this supplement is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia (a chronic condition that involves widespread pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons and has fatigue as a typical symptom), migraine and weight loss.

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