About two years ago I was invited to a practice group of psychiatrists who use alternative supplements for anxiety and depression. Most of us are familiar with the standard set of psychotropic drugs known and SSRI’s, benzodiazepines, etc. but did you know there are other supplements you can take that can work better or as well as prescription drugs?
As a disclaimer I am not a psychiatrist or medical doctor but I do see many clients with anxiety and depression who do not want to take standard drugs.
My first recommendation is to rebalance the diet, since blood sugar variations contribute to and can exacerbate depression and anxiety. Once their diet is balanced out, it can be helpful to add small amounts of other supplements to assist with feeling blue or anxious.
It is rather interesting to see how these alternative treatments have been used for years, but may not be familiar or recognizable since big drug companies are marketing them.
Inositol: Inositol is a naturally occurring vitamin-like substance found in many plants. It has been around for years and facilitates serotonin and neurotransmitters in the brain. Inositol has been effective in small studies for mood disorders, anxiety and mild depression. It comes in pill and powder form and up to 12,000 mg. per day can be taken safely, and spread throughout the day.
It has also been used with metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) since it increases insulin sensitivity.
N-Acetyl Cysteine, also known as NAC comes from the amino acid L-cysteine. N-acetyl cysteine has many uses from being an antioxidant to reducing inflammation. Cysteine is a precursor to glutathione, another antioxidant so using NAC is a way to raise the glutathione levels since research seems to indicate that people with depression have low levels. Therapeutic levels are from 500 mg. to 3000 mg. per day.
NAC is also effective at lowering insulin resistance, assisting with lung and liver damage and heart health.
S-Adenosylmethionine, also known as SAM-E, is an amino-acid derivative that has been shown to benefit brain and joint health.
It is not known exactly how it works to help depression but the theory is it may influence or alter the function of receptors that transport neurotransmitters in the brain or even create more neurotransmitters. A few studies show it helps individuals who don’t respond to traditional anti-depressants. Dosages range from 200 -800 mg. for effectiveness.
If traditional drugs have not worked and you feel a little blue going into the winter season or need some help with anxiety it might be worth trying one of these supplements. However, if you are taking other psychotropic drugs, please check with your medical provider before trying any of these 3 alternatives or going off your usual medications.