Mood and mental health disorders affect millions of people, and the annual cost of treating these conditions is in the billions. While prescription medications may help many people with severe anxiety and depression, how do people with mild worry or routine stress cope with mood-altering symptoms?
You can find various mood-boosting supplements sold over the counter, but you must be careful. Supplement manufacturers are not held to the same standards as prescription drug manufacturers.
Mood Enhancers and Limited Research
People turn to mood enhancers because they either cannot qualify for prescription medications or their medication stops working. Some people may also turn to vitamins and other dietary supplements because they cause fewer side effects than medications.
Whatever the reason, people need to understand that most supplements suffer from a research void — there is simply not enough clinical proof to verify claims. Most research is inconclusive, and, as with many things nowadays, you can find "expert support" for anything.
When it comes to your health, it is best to read legitimate studies from peer-reviewed and credible sources. If you don't have the time to invest in research, consult a medical professional, not a social media influencer. Also, it is best to consult a physician familiar with your medical and family history.
Supplements That Show Promise
Doctors prescribe medications because the research and support for the drugs are conclusive or at least convincing. Also, prescription meds undergo rigorous testing and trials to ensure their safety and efficacy. While vitamins, minerals, and herbs may be known as healthy, their effectiveness at treating mood is less known and researched.
That said, many medical professionals agree that some supplements have anecdotal evidence to support some claims about mood enhancement. The most popular of these supplements include:
St. John's Wort
St. John's Wort
St. John's Wort has a long history of treating anxiety, sleep disorders, and mild to moderate depression. While the supplement has minimal to no benefit in treating severe depression symptoms, research does suggest it may help with anxiety.
Despite the possible benefits of the supplement, St. John's Wort may have severe interactions with medications, including antidepressants. If you want to try the supplement, talk to your primary physician first. They can speak to you about possible drug interactions and side effects, including:
SAMe or S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine is a naturally occurring compound in the body. It has an extensive research history, stemming back to the 1970s, primarily covering its capabilities as an antidepressant. Some European countries already produce it as an antidepressant.
While the supplement has a reputation and even classification as an antidepressant, you should be careful before taking it. SAMe has few side effects to speak of, but people with diabetes, anxiety, psychiatric disorders, or low blood sugar should take caution.
As with any supplement, consult your primary care physician before taking it. Your doctor can help you understand potential side effects and whether taking SAMe is beneficial.
A healthy lifestyle is the best medicine. While dietary supplements may improve mood, doctors never veer too far from their standard advice of eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Some supplements may enhance mood, but more research is necessary, so ask a physician before including anything in your diet.