June 15, 2024

The 10 Best Supplements for Depression

Depression can strike for a variety of reasons and very often these reasons are tied to the nutrients our bodies need in order to stay healthy and working optimally. While it may be that a person experiencing depression may need additional medication to treat depressive symptoms, there are natural supplements and herbal remedies that help ward off the blues.

People who have depression have a number of natural options available to them. These work either to replace vital nutrients the body needs to function optimally or they enhance the chemicals in the brain. Either way, the results can be an elevation of symptoms, leading to a lighter mood.

Supplements are reported to work for mild to moderate depression.  Do not take them for severe depression or if you are taking antidepressants without first talking to your doctor.  They can have harmful effects.

The 10 Best Supplements for Depression

St. John’s Wort

This popular herbal remedy has been used since the days of ancient Greece to treat and variety of ailments, depression being among those. Although researchers aren’t 100% sure why this herbal depression treatment works, research done on St. John’s Wort suggests that it helps to make chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine more available for the brain to use. St. John’s Wort works best for mild to moderate cases of depression and can be used for some specific types of depression like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Additionally, St. John’s Wort may interact with other medications particularly antidepressants, so people taking medication should consult with a physician. Finally, there’s a bit of lagtime with the herb.  A person very often must take it for up to 4 to 6 weeks before seeing a change in mood.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are most commonly found in fish. These beneficial oils have long been used to treat heart disease, but these important fatty acids also play an important role in brain health. A healthy brain needs essential oils to function optimally, and the Omega-3 oils fall into this category. These fatty acids when taken with depression medication have been shown to increase the benefits of the medication. The fats in fish oils have also been linked to a decrease in postpartum depression. In Asian countries, which consume higher quantities of this fatty acid, people are shown to have lower rates of depression – in some places as much as 10 times lower.


The supplement SAM-e is thought to be beneficial in alleviating depressive symptoms, because it is thought to augment the availability of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These neurotransmitters are important to healthy brain function and for a lightness of mood. It works best with mild symptoms of depression. People with heavy mood disorders like bipolar should take SAM-e under the supervision of a physician.

Folic Acid

A deficiency of folic acid is shown to cause people to exhibit symptoms of depression. Also known as folate, eating foods like leafy vegetables, fruit, beans and grains, has been shown to help boost folic acid stores in the body as does vitamin supplements. Additionally, a Harvard study showed that people who have higher levels of folic acid respond better to anti-depressant medications, making them work more effectively. Folic acid is one of the B vitamins (B9).

B Vitamins

Although, folic acid is an important vitamin to take to ward off depression, a general lack in the B vitamins especially the B-12 vitamin also contributes to feelings of depression. A lack of these vitamins can cause fatigue, depression, and anxiety. These work on depressive symptoms by replacing the vitamins that the body is lacking and needs in order to function properly.


Magnesium helps keep serotonin levels up in the body, and the body needs serotonin for healthy brain function. Without this mineral, the brain cannot function as optimally and depression is one of the common side effects. Additionally, magnesium is often recommended in concert with calcium. These two minerals work together to keep the body functioning and the mood elevated.

Vitamin D

A person most often gets vitamin from being in the sun or by consuming milk that’s fortified with the vitamin. There is evidence to suggest that taking this supplement may alleviate the feelings of depression associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder. This makes sense because the condition is brought on by lack of sunlight and sunlight is one of the sources of the D vitamin.

Ginko Biloba

Ginko Biloba, which comes from a tree from the same name, is one of the key brain-enhancing herbs. The so-called “memory herb” has been used to help treat conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia and the side benefit associated with this is an elevating of a depressed mood, which often accompanies these conditions. It works primarily, because it increases the blood flow to the brain.


Tyrosine has been touted as an effective remedy for both depression and anxiety.  It’s thought to increase the prevalence of two important brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine, which help stave off feelings of depression when available in the right amounts in the brain. It works more quickly than St. John’s Wort, which can take up to 6 weeks to have a real effect. However, because it can also cause an elevation in blood pressure, people battling this condition should use it only with supervision or opt for another treatment for depression.

Valerian Root

Valerian root is thought to decrease the amount of anxiety a person feels and help to calm nerves, which sometimes accompany depressive conditions. Valerian root is also a natural sleep aid and since one of the side-effects of depression is lack of sleep, this herb may help alleviate the symptom. This herb should be taken with caution as it can increase the effect of some drugs, including ones taken for depressive states.

Warning to those with Severe Depression

If you have severe depression contact your doctor or medical health care professional before taking supplements.  The effectiveness of supplement use for severe depression has not been proven and may in fact be harmful.    Do NOT take supplements for depression if you are taking antidepressants.

Research suggests that there are many supplements that do help in relieving some of the symptoms of depression.  However, it also points toward maintaining one’s general health to ward off the on-set of depression; good health often leads to a good mood.  Along with regular exercise and a good diet, natural vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements can help a person feel terrific physically and emotionally.   It is important that if feelings of depression do persist, it is recommended that a person see a physician to determine the cause of these feelings and to get help with treatment.


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