Best Natural Supplements For Depression

One of the biggest realizations many people make along their recovery from depression is that people are treating their depression without medication.  We are born into a world that says if we are depressed we have a “Paxil deficiency.”  We don’t stop and really ask, “Is depression a disease?”

We aren’t ever told that there is a diet for depression, natural antidepressant foods, and natural antidepressants out there.  Once I realized that Celexa didn’t work long term for me and the experience of getting off it was horrific, I started researching ways to overcome depression and how to beat depression naturally.

The average person is deficient in Vitamins B1, B2, B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, E, and iron.  When you are depressed or have been under prolonged stress, your chances of being deficient in vitamins is highly likely.

Other than really nailing down your nutrition for depression, it’s important to utilize the best supplements for depression so that you can recover quicker and stay depression free longer.  I have tried almost every single supplement listed below.

What is a Dietary Supplement?

Supplements for Depression

Example of some of the supplements I’ve used

According to Wikipedia, “A dietary supplement is intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities.”  This includes vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, and amino acids.

For some reason there are still people that don’t believe that there are natural ways to fight depression.  When you tell them they don’t have to take Klonopin and Paxil and there are vitamins for anxiety and supplements for depression that work, they will look at you funny.

Usually they will accuse you of being a hippie that doesn’t use “science” in your reasoning if you think vitamins for depression work.  The good news is, these supplements and “natural antidepressants” are scientifically studied.

In Germany St. John’s Wort is prescribed more often than antidepressants.  There has been numerous studies conducted which have even found that St. John’s Wort can be more effective than antidepressant drugs with fewer side effects.

L-Tryptophan has been studied extensively on it’s function in producing serotonin in the brain and double-blind studies have been conducted on its effects for inducing sleep at night for those with insomnia.

The truth of the matter is pharmaceutical companies are very large and profitable.  Isn’t it a little scary to think that if someone goes to the doctor and says they aren’t feeling well, the first thing the doctor does is prescribes them a strong antidepressant drug, even if it isn’t a serious depression? Shouldn’t we be trying to figure out the root cause first, and using antidepressant drugs as a last resort?

Instead of jumping to an antidepressant drug, you can take a natural supplement to correct a vitamin deficiency.  You can take amino acids, which have been described as natural mood boosters, to restore neurotransmitter levels in the brain naturally with no dependency.  Over the years of studying, schooling, and my own 11 year long depression, I’ve found supplements that really work for depression.

It’s important that supplements used for depression are of high quality, from reputable manufacturers, and work properly.  That way you know if a supplement works based on its function rather than the brand quality and that you don’t get other chemicals in the supplement that can alter you in negative ways.

Vitamins for Depression

Vitamins and minerals are essential supplements for depression.  If you have any sort of deficiency in a vitamin or mineral you won’t feel 100%.  If you can, I always recommend getting blood work done and tests to see where you might need supplementation.

Multivitamin

Supplements for Depression

Multivitamins can help you cover your bases

Multivitamins, when they are of high quality, can help you get back on track by supplying you with a vast array of nutrients needed to perform various functions throughout your body.

Although I don’t personally take a multivitamin anymore and their use is highly debated, for some they can help get back on track.  I’d suggest using one if you feel really depleted and want to make sure you get all your deficiencies covered, then stop taking it.  If you don’t feel like you need them, then you might be better off without them.

Best Multivitamin Supplements for Depression:

  • Alive Multivitamin (Iron-Free Version)

  • NOW Foods True Balance Multiple – This is recommended by Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure, because it has high amounts of B Vitamins and chromium.  This is especially helpful for a depressed person and reducing stress.  However, upon reading reviews, it looks like it might contain soy.  So if you are allergic to soy, it would be best to try something else.

  • My Favorite Multiple by Natrol – Good multivitamin that you can get without iron if you are male and/or worried about too much iron.

  •  Allergy Multi Caps by TwinLab – If you are sensitive to tablet binders, coatings, colorings, added flavorings, sugars, preservatives, etc. this multivitamin is produced for allergic and chemically hypersensitive individuals.

Vitamin B Supplements for Depression

Supplements for Depression

B Vitamins are Essential in Overcoming Depression

Priscilla Slagle, Medical Doctor and author of The Way Up From Down, states that she has “never seen a patient whose diet tested adequately in all the B Vitamins at RDA levels.”  It is important to take Vitamin B supplements for depression.

Why are B Vitamins one of the most important supplements for depression?  Low levels have been associated with mood disorders over and over again where the patient supplements with B Vitamins and he/she feels better within days.  The brain needs high amounts of B Vitamins in order to repair and maintain neurotransmitter function.  B Vitamins are also associated with adrenal health.

Stress depletes B Vitamins quickly.  If you are suffering from depression and/or chronic stress, at the very least buy a high quality B Vitamin complex today.  After a few months when you notice significant improvement in your depression and stress levels, you can keep B Vitamins on the shelf and take them only when needed.

  • Stress B-Complex Caps by TwinLab – Great choice to get all the B Vitamins you need. It is yeast-free and tolerated well by people with allergies. It comes with Vitamin C for added antioxidant effects and easy absorption.
    • Click Here to see my own review and to get more information.
  • B-Right by Jarrow Formulas – The coenzymate form of B-Vitamins are more easily absorbed and used by your body.  If you find your stomach gets upset when taking B-Vitamins, this is a good choice for you.
  • Methyl B12 by Jarrow Formulas – Many people find relief using Vitamin B12 supplements for depression.  People who suffer from chronic fatigue symptom and brain fog can be severely deficient in Vitamin B12.  It is best to take all of the B Vitamins together, but if you specifically want Vitamin B12, this version is better absorbed.
    • Click Here to see my own review and to get more information.
  • Niacin (B-3) Caps 500mg by TwinLab – Many people have taken niacin and felt 100 times better.  Niacin and depression is well known but niacin has also been used to cure schizophrenia.  It is dirt cheap, at about $4.00 a bottle.
    • Click Here to see my own review and to get more information.

Vitamin C

Supplements for Depression

Nature’s Way Vitamin C

You adrenals actually use a large amount of the Vitamin C you take in.  If you don’t have enough Vitamin C you won’t be able to deal with stress as effectively. Vitamin C even affects endorphin levels and has been used to help people suffering from heroin withdrawal.  It is best to take Vitamin C with bioflavonoids.

Mineral Supplements for Depression

Magnesium and calcium are often forgotten minerals that many people need more of.  People with anxiety will be glad to hear that controlling anxiety can be as easy as getting these levels back to normal.  I had a magnesium deficiency and once I corrected it, I started sleeping better and had less anxiety.  If you are deficient in magnesium, supplementing with it will be the best natural remedy for anxiety for you.

Most people need as much or more magnesium compared to calcium.  Too much magnesium can lead to loose bowels while too much calcium can lead to constipation.  Take more towards bedtime as they are very relaxing and help with sleep.

Important update: it is now shown that supplementing with calcium may cause more harm than good. Only take if you need to, or if taking very high amounts of magnesium. It is best to get calcium from salmon, dark leafy greens, bone broth, or dairy products if you don’t have a sensitivity to milk.

Magnesium Blood Levels Test

My Blood Test Revealed I Was Low in Magnesium

Magnesium:

Probiotics and Enzymes

Supplements for Depression

Digestive health is essential to absorb nutrients

Not Vitamins, but I didn’t know where else to mention enzyme supplements for depression.  If your gut health is messed up, not only will you not feel good, you won’t even be able to absorb all the supplements in this article.  They are something I don’t think is mentioned enough when it comes to supplements for treatment resistant depression.

Probiotics come in many different variations.

  • Prescript-Assist
    • This is a probiotic in its own league and backed by peer-reviewed, published clinical studies. It contains soil-based-organisms, which are almost always effective and well-tolerated.
  • Pharmax High Potency HLC Powder – I’ve never seen this mentioned anywhere until I saw that my favorite nutritionist Johnny Bowden recommended it.  For some it works, but it also has an ingredient or two that some people might be sensitive too, especially if you have more severe gut problems like SIBO.
  • Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra – Slightly expensive, but the quality is worth it.  Many people have tried inferior probiotics and think that probiotics don’t work for them until they try Garden of Life.

Digestive enzymes help break food down so your stomach can do a better job.

  • NOW Foods Super Enzymes
    • One of the top enzyme products out there. Take right before the first bite of your meal to help digest your food if you find that after eating you feel worse instead of better.
  • NOW Foods Betaine Hcl
    • A digestive enzyme that helps break down meat and raises stomach acid. If you have a hard time digesting meals, it is likely this can help you out greatly. The increase in stomach acid can help from inflammation, to killing bad bacteria before it reaches your gut, and overall digestion.

Vitamin D Supplements for Depression

Supplements for Depression

Test your Vitamin D levels to see if they are in optimal range

Vitamin D is actually a hormone.  It wasn’t until recently that the research on Vitamin D and depression started to explode.  It is one of the best supplements for winter depression and optimal levels will keep you feeling good year round.

If you are deficient in Vitamin D you will have mental problems, brain fog, and won’t be able to metabolize calcium properly.  However, Vitamin D is one of the vitamins you can go overboard with.  High levels of Vitamin D are toxic and will have similar effects to being deficient in Vitamin D.  You should test your Vitamin D levels (it is cheap) and then get them in the optimal range!

  • Carlson Labs Vitamin D3 2,000 IU – Carlson Labs is a brand known for quality.  2,000 IU is good for most people that are looking to raise their Vitamin D levels.  Make sure to get tested before you start taking Vitamin D.  This bottle will last you an entire year if you only need one softgel per day.
  • Thorne Research Vitamin D Liquid – Thorne Research is one of the best brands for supplements out there.  Taking vitamin D in liquid form makes for easier absorption.  Although it easier taking softgels with you throughout the day, taking a few drops of vitamin D liquid on your tongue after breakfast or at night is easy.
    • Click HERE to see my review of Thorne Research Vitamin D (And also see which Vitamin D supplement is a scam)
    • UPDATE: Vitamin D with K2 has now been shown to be superior to taking vitamin D alone
      • Thorne Vitamin D/K2 Liquid
        • Hands down the best vitamin D supplement I have seen. Combining vitamins D with K can provide better artery elasticity and health when compared to people who only receive vitamin D. Vitamin K2 can also protect against vitamin D toxicity.

Amino Acid Supplements for Depression

Amino acids are effective supplements for depression.  They are the natural building blocks for the creation of neurotransmitters.  Instead of taking antidepressant drugs, you can take amino acids and get the same results.  What causes depression in a lot of cases can just be a lack of neurotransmitters in the brain.  Taking amino acids restores them naturally.

Serotonin Supplements for Depression and Anxiety

Supplements for Depression

5-HTP Capsules in my Hand

5-HTP is made from an African bean and works for most people who take it.  Your body makes 5-HT (serotonin) by converting tryptophan into 5-HTP and then into 5-HT.  If you have enough tryptophan and B Vitamins for the conversion to take place, you should have enough serotonin.  However, if you are depressed, you can take 5-HTP and skip the first half of the serotonin production process and often feel better within minutes.

  • Jarrow Formulas 5-HTP – High quality 5-HTP that will work.
    • Click here to see my review of Jarrow Formulas 5-HTP and its comparison to Natrol 5-HTP and NOW Foods 5-HTP

For some people, 5-HTP doesn’t work very well and L-Tryptophan works better.  I am one of those people.  Make sure you have enough B Vitamins in your system (especially niacin) because your body uses tryptophan for other things and will convert tryptophan into niacin if you need more niacin.

  • Source Naturals L-Tryptophan 500mg – My all-time favorite serotonin supplement.  High quality and you can definitely feel it working.  Works miracles for sleep.
    • Click here to see my review of NOW Foods L-Tryptophan and how it compares to Source Naturals.
  • NOW Foods L-Tryptophan 500mg – Second best choice.  You honestly can’t go wrong with either Source Naturals or NOW Foods L-Tryptophan.
    • Click here to see my review of NOW Foods L-Tryptophan and how it compares to Source Naturals.

Tyrosine and Phenylalanine Natural Supplements for Depression and Fatigue

Supplements for Depression

NOW Foods L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine is the raw ingredient that your body uses to make norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine.  It is needed by your adrenals to produce the “fight-or-flight” response.  Tyrosine is also needed by your Thyroid to make T3 and T4.  Many people who have suffered from chronic stress or feel “numb” or unmotivated respond very well to Tyrosine.

  • NOW Foods L-Tyrosine – Good brand that does the job.  I used this for 2 weeks after I quit a job selling cars to recover from the fatigue and stress that I experienced for almost a year straight.

A small minority of people will respond to L-Phenylalanine better than Tyrosine (I am one of those people).  Phenylalanine converts into tyrosine and a few other biochemicals.  It can also give a more pleasurable sensation as it tends to help with the production of endorphins.

GABA Supplements for Depression

Many people relapse into depression from constant stress and anxiety burning up their neurotransmitters.  If you are one of those people that can’t seem to wind down at the end of the night or relax and laugh at a TV show, you might be low in GABA.

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that shuts off your fight-or-flight response and allows your body to relax and heal.  Many people have found that it helps them with their depression and to feel at ease throughout the day.  However, some people don’t find any results with GABA at all, so the findings are mixed.

Click here to see my honest review on GABA to decide if you want to try it or not.

SAM-e Supplements for Depression

SAM-e Jarrow Formulas 200mg Supplement Facts

SAM-e Jarrow Formulas 200mg Supplement Facts

Not actually an amino acid, SAM-e is found in almost every cell of our bodies and is responsible for numerous functions.  Some of those functions include the production of neurotransmitters.  Depressed people can have low levels of SAM-e.  If nothing else really works, give SAM-e a try.

  • Jarrow Formulas SAM-e 200mg – These are individually blister-packed to maintain freshness.  SAM-e degrades rapidly and the packaging is very important
    • Click here to see my personal review of Jarrow Formulas SAM-e.

Fish Oil Supplements for Depression

Supplements for Depression

Carlson Labs Fish Oil is Well Worth the Price

This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention fish oil.  It is one of the supplements I take every single day no matter what.  Why? Your brain is 60% fat.  By getting enough Omega-3s in your diet and through supplementation, your brain will function much better.  Fish oil is better than flax, as some people can’t convert flax properly into DHA and EPA.

  • Carlson Liquid Fish Oil – This stuff is amazing and I miss it everyday as I am traveling.  It is fresh, high quality fish oil. You can either take a spoonful every morning or you can even drizzle a little bit on salads.
    • Click Here for my honest review and comparison to other products.
  • Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
    • If you don’t like taking liquid, you can grab these.  I only recommend high quality fish oil for a reason.  Don’t be turned off by the higher prices.  Buying lower quality fish oil isn’t nearly as effective. Getting rancid or bad fish oil can do more harm than good.
  • Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Blend
    • If you can afford it, one of the best options on the market. It is a whole-food product rather than a supplement. Fat soluble vitamins increase the absorption of DHA & EPA. Cold-process fermentation, so very low chance of oxidation.
  • Vital Choice Wild Salmon Oil
    • High quality choice that is certified by NSF international, a non-profit and independent organization. It is processed without any heat, so vitamin A and D are still intact.
  • Jarrow Formulas Max DHA
    • A lower cost fish oil “supplement” that can still raise your DHA and EPA levels effectively.

Supplements for Depression and Sleep

Many supplements that also help with sleep have already been mentioned above.  If you want a more in depth look at which supplements help sleep, check out one of the most popular articles on this site – My Secret Combination of Supplements That Knock You Out.

Holy basil can help with irritability and depression if stress is what is keeping you awake.  L-Tryptophan works wonders if you are a Xanax addict.  Valerian root is a good short term option.  But check out the article above for a more in depth look on what works and what doesn’t.

Herbal Supplements for Depression

St. John’s Wort is one of the best herbs for depression.  It is an herbal antidepressant that is prescribed in Germany more commonly than traditional antidepressants. It is an MAOI and helps increase all neurotransmitters in the brain.  I took it for a year and it helped me a great deal, although it could sometimes give me anxiety.  Quality is important with St. John’s Wort.

Holy Basil Helps Reduce Stress

Supplements for Depression

Holy basil is an adaptogen that lowers stress.  Several studies have shown certain extractions reduce corticosterone.  A few readers of this site have noticed a difference in their irritability and depression when taking holy basil and it is one of the supplements I recommend in my sleep post.

Rhodiola Rosea is another adaptogen that has a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, and increasing energy.  Some people have used it to be able to exercise for longer periods of time and increase sexual function.

Supplements for Bipolar Depression

Supplements for Depression

Lithium Orotate Can Curb Mania and Help Bipolar Depression

Treatment for bipolar disorder is a little more complex than just depression.  Manic depression has two dangerous sides – on the one end you swing into depression and on the other end you swing into mania.  5-HTP and other supplements can help with being depressed, but sometimes can produce too much mania.

The main thing with bipolar is eliminating substances like sugar, coffee, and stimulants that can promote a manic episode and taking some of the supplements above to help with depression.

Research shows that high amounts of fish oil is clinically significant in helping people overcome bipolar.  If you suffer from bipolar symptoms and aren’t eating any fish or taking fish oil, start now!

Lecithin has been found to stabilize moods and has been effective in getting rid of a manic episode.  Some people find that it stabilizes mood while others have found that it can depress them.

Lithium orotate has been found to help many people manage their bipolar disorder.  There is some conflicting evidence that taking it long term might not be the best option, but hundreds and hundreds of people still take it everyday.  If you’ve struggled for years with bipolar, are taking fish oil and vitamins/minerals, have your diet under control and have checked to see if you are sensitive to sugar, I’d suggest trying lithium orotate among other natural remedies for bipolar and seeing how it affects you.

 Top Supplements for Depression

Supplements for Depression

You don’t need to take all these supplements at once

You don’t have to take all these supplements to fix your depression.  You just need to take the supplements that you need personally.

Everyone should start off taking more vitamins and minerals and getting blood work done to see if they have any deficiencies, like being deficient in Vitamin D for example.  On top of that, eat plenty of healthy fish every week or supplement with fish oil as the brain is made up of 60% fat.  Being deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids is a sure way to prevent yourself from feeling good.

Then you can start experimenting with different amino acids based on your depression symptoms to replenish the neurotransmitters in your brain naturally.

People sometimes ask me how to prevent depression once they’ve recovered so they don’t relapse.  My answer is always to get your nutrition dialed in by eating the right foods for depression and using the right supplements for treating depression.  These aren’t just natural ways to beat depression, they are natural depression cures.  When you learn the most important supplements for depression for your own biology and how to eat properly, you won’t be the same.

Can depression be cured? Yes.  There are too many people living with depression and thinking they are stuck that way.  You don’t have to learn how to deal with depression.  You can use natural vitamins and supplements for depression, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, sleep mastery, and tools for support to eliminate the effects of depression in your life.  Check out the course if you want to get a week-by-week plan and instruction on how to stay depression free.

Note: All the links above are affiliate links.  If you buy one of the supplements through my links, I make about $0.12.  I’ve only recommended supplements that I know works for depression through scientific research, treatment centers, and my own experiences.
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