Alternative medicineBy Mayo Clinic staff
Several herbal remedies, supplements and mind-body techniques are commonly used to relieve depression symptoms. It's not clear how effective these treatments are for seasonal affective disorder, but there are several that may help. Keep in mind, alternative treatments alone may not be enough to relieve your symptoms. Some alternative treatments may not be safe if you have other health conditions or take certain medications.
Supplements used to treat depression include:
- St. John's wort. This herb has traditionally been used to treat a variety of problems, including depression. It may be helpful if you have mild or moderate depression.
- SAMe. This is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. SAMe hasn't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat depression in the United States. However, it's used in Europe as a prescription drug to treat depression.
- Melatonin. This natural hormone helps regulate mood. A change in the season may change the level of melatonin in your body.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help relieve depression symptoms and have other health benefits. Sources of omega-3s include fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Omega-3s are also found in certain nuts and grains and in other vegetarian sources, but it isn't clear whether they have the same effect as fish oil.
SAMe and St. John's wort can interact with medications for other conditions, especially antidepressants. Talk to your doctor before trying either of these remedies to make sure they're safe for you.
Mind-body therapies that may help relieve depression symptoms include:
- Guided imagery
- Massage therapy
- Saeed SA, et al. Seasonal affective disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 8, 2011.
- Seasonal pattern specifier. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed July 8, 2011.
- Ravindran AV, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments. Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) clinical guidelines for the management of major depressive disorder in adults. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2009;117:S54.
- Sarris J, et al. Kava and St. John's wort: Current evidence for use in mood and anxiety disorders. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2009;15:827.
- Iovino N, et al. Second-tier natural antidepressants: Review and critique. Journal of affective disorders. 2011;3:343.