If you suffer from depression, you know that the struggle is more than just a set of emotions and a state of mind. Depression can manifest with physical symptoms such as fatigue and “brain fog.” This combination of emotional and physical symptoms can interfere with your ability to function or participate in daily activities.
Psychotherapy has proven to be helpful for the emotional and cognitive symptoms of depression. However, sometimes the symptoms of depression may be due to an underlying nutritional deficiency. For many, these deficiencies can be addressed through dietary changes or by taking supplements.
With so many supplement options available, they key is identifying your specific biological needs. Research evidence available at this time helps us to understand which supplements are most likely to help individuals with depression. Here's an overview of a few specific supplements that appear to be beneficial:
Medical providers have known for quite some time that Vitamin D plays a crucial role in physical health. More and more research reveals that Vitamin D also plays an important role in mental health - with deficits being linked to depression and other mental health conditions.
Given the importance of Vitamin D, you may want to check your vitamin D levels and increase your intake of vitamin D if your blood tests show that you are deficient. You can get Vitamin D naturally from sun exposure and in small quantities from certain foods, such as dairy products. However, in most parts of the country sun exposure is not sufficient for maintaining adequate vitamin D levels year round and taking a vitamin D supplement is the best way to protect from deficiency.
Individuals with depression are more likely to have low levels of B3 and B6. Vitamin B3 is has also been shown to help to reduce inflammation - another underlying contributor to depressive symptoms. In addition B12 may also play an important role in depression treatment.
Research has demonstrated that people with depression often have low levels of Zinc in their bodies. Because Zinc plays an important role in immune function, lower the levels of Zinc can increase the severity of inflammation related depressive symptoms. Elevated levels of inflammation can have negative effects on functioning. Studies reveal that Zinc supplementation has a positive effect on depressive symptoms.
Research shows that Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (also known as n-3 PUFA) have a positive effect as a supplemental treatment for Depression. Individuals who are low in Omega-3s show high levels of proinflammatory cytokines and supplementation with fish oil and eating fish can help with normalizing the Omega 3 levels and cooling inflammation.
If you are considering the use of supplements to help treat your depression, the choice of which one and how much can be somewhat daunting. Consider working with an integrative psychiatrist to help with testing and selecting the optimal supplement regimen for your needs.