ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

4 Supplements That Make Antidepressants Work Better—And Some That Don’t

Updated on February 13, 2018

Supplements and Depression

In recent years, researchers and integrative psychiatrists have been paying more attention to the potential for standardized pharmaceutical-grade nutrients or supplements, known as nutraceuticals, to improve the effectiveness of antidepressants. In 2016, the American Journal of Psychiatry published a review and analysis of 40 research studies, many of which suggest that some nutraceuticals actually help antidepressants work better—and some do not (Sarris, Murphy, Mischoulon, Papakostas, Fava, Berk & Ng, 2016). While much exploration of this topic still remains to be done, the use of adjunctive nutraceutical supplements alongside antidepressants holds the promise to improve depression treatment with relatively few side effects.

Depression is a complex disorder with a range of mental and physiological causes and effects—and though many treatments for depression disorders exist, there is no perfect cure that works for everyone. Because of its complexity, treating depression often requires physicians to experiment a bit in administering medications. This can mean combining two or more antidepressants that each combat depression in a different way, or augmenting treatment with non-medication agents that can help the antidepressant work. Here are the agents that when added to antidepressants result in improvement of depression symptoms that is better than just the antidepressant alone.

1. S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)

In multiple studies, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) emerged as a useful nutraceutical for improving the effectiveness of antidepressants. SAMe targets specific neurotransmitters in the brain in a similar way as antidepressants, thus enhancing the mood-lifting effects. This naturally occurring compound also has anti-inflammatory qualities and bolsters the immune system, both of which are linked to a decrease in depressive symptoms.

2. Methylfolate and Folinic Acid

Sarris et al. claim gave a tentative recommendation for methylfolate and folinic acid. Methyfolate and folinic acid are essentially “active” versions of folate, one of the naturally occurring B vitamins. Most of the research results on the use of methylfolate for depression are from large-scale, commercially sponsored studies on a pharmaceutical form of folate (Deplin), rather than the over the counter lower dose methylfolate. Thus while folate is a promising treatment, we may need more research to truly know its potential for relieving depression symptoms.

3. Omega-3

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid found in fish oil as well as some vegetarian sources. Sarris et al. found that omega-3 significantly reduces depressive symptom when added to antidepressants. Omega-3 augments antidepressant efficacy by promoting modulation, reuptake, degradation, and synthesis of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin—all of which are targeted in depression treatment. It also makes cells healthier by improving the fluidity of the cellular membranes.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D receptors are abundant in the prefrontal cortex, hypothalamus, and substantia nigra—brain areas that play a role in depression. Vitamin D increases healthy activity in these areas of the brain. While there are many research studies linking vitamin d deficiency to a predisposition to psychiatric disorders, there are few studies that actually show that taking vitamin d improves depression or anxiety symptoms.

Other Nutraceuticals and Supplements

Zinc, vitamin C, and tryptophan (specifically 5-HTP) were among other nutraceuticals that were tested for their potential to augment antidepressant-based treatment, but all of these showed mixed results. Sarris et al. suggest that further research would be required in establishing their effectiveness. From all the studies, inositol was the only nutraceutical that the researchers concluded to be unlikely to have any significant use in improving the effectiveness of antidepressants.

These results are from a single review research study and other studies cover other supplements for mental health.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)