Are there any non-Rx drugs or foods that safely and reliably combat depression?

–besides just eating stuff that you like, I mean. I’m curious about the possibility of improving mood through dietary means. I’m sure there’s more than a few diet systems and nostrums that claim to make you happier, more fulfilled, etc., but I doubt my ability to parse genuine medical research from snake oil.

I would be very, very, very, very cautious about any claims for any food to combat true clinical depression.

Which is itself a cautious way of saying that there aren’t any. Period.

I saw on TV one time a Dr. who said that greens (Spinach, Kale, etc.) cooked with a bit of fat (butter, olive oil or bacon grease) helped with depression.

I don’t know about any specific foods but my doctor said even moderate exercise and a healthy diet can elevate mood. YMMV.
I would be wary of any “miracle food” claims.

Yeah most would tell you that exercise is a great combat for depression and cite things like endorphin release.

Foods, I dunno.

Snake oil seems to work very well.

There have been several studies that indicate that the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have some effect on mood. This does NOT make fish oil supplements an anti-depressant – there’s still a lot of debate about just how strong the relationship is and how it works.

“Eating stuff that you like” may actually exacerbate the problem. If you’re craving foods high in sugar, for example, it plays havoc with your blood glucose, which might have an effect on your mood, among other things.

I have chronic depression, and I’m also diabetic. I’ve found that keeping my blood glucose in control helps with the depression, though it’s no cure. I’ve never found any specific food that works, other than simply eating healthfully. See a doctor.

Seems to be some evidence that St. John’s Wort has an antidepressant effect for mild to moderate (but not major) depression.

However, the same article lists a bunch of side effects and drug interactions, so that might not fit the “safely” part of your question.

St Johns Wort has been shown to affect mood.

Great minds… :wink:

Yes, St Johns Wort for mild, occasional depression.

See your Doctor, talk to him, ask about St Johns Wort.

I was actually pretty sold on St. Johns’ Wort, until it was recommended by DrDeth… truly an awkward username for answering medical-type questions.

In any case, ‘mild occasional depression’ doesn’t really cover the territory. I’d been hoping for something that would work alongside prescription antidepressants to reinforce the effect… icing on the cake, so to speak. Thanks to all for the information; I suspect my question was unrealistic to begin with.

Regular exercise (no matter how little you may feel like it) is a good idea for combatting depression. Spending time under a certain intensity and type of fluorescent light might be helpful (check out links under Seasonal Affective Disorder).

The main thing with food is avoiding intake of certain things that may not go well with antidepressants (mainly alcohol with the most commonly prescribed drugs).
Plus being careful about calories (Paxil for example has been associated with considerable weight gain).

Eh, what can you do, it’s a blessing and a curse.


FerChristSakes, NO!

Never take any similar OTC drugs alongside Presciption drugs withoit talking it over with your MD first. There can be some very bad interactions.

Oh and do you have joint pain? Cause SamE seems to work on both joint pain and mild depression. See your Doctor.

According to Kevin Trudeau’s legendary first book, jumping on a trampoline cures depression. Seriously. :rolleyes:

So, fish oil…yes, snake oil…no?

Isn’t there some evidence that chocolate can help elevate mood (beyond just tasting good)? And it needn’t even be high in sugar, if you get the dark stuff.

Absolutely agreed. You shouldn’t mix any drugs (prescription, OTC, herbal, or illegal) without asking a doctor or pharmacist, especially not any with similar effects. You could end up with a bad case of dead.

The main problem with St John’s Wort is it isn’t regulated. So it’s hard to tell what your getting is quality.

Since it’s often marketed as a nutritional supplement you may get odd dosage despite what the bottle claims. That is the chief problem with St John’s Wort.

A clinical depression is an actual disease, feeling down is not. It’s like trying to treat asthma with food. Unless the food triggers the asthma it won’t directly help the asthma. Though eating better and exercise improves any illness or condition.

I would go further and say not to mix stuff without talking to a pharmacist. Preferably a Pharm D, if you can find one (my dad is one, so I’m lucky like that). Doctors know a lot of stuff, but pharmacists know pharmaceuticals better.

And I agree with sdguy’s criticism of OTC St. John’s Wort pills. Most of them are trash, and the ones that aren’t recommend a dosing schedule that’s less than half that found to be effective in studies. Only whole plant extract for me, and that I make myself. And I wouldn’t mix it with a pharmaceutical antidepressant without checking with Dad about the liver metabolism of said pharmaceutical. St. John’s Wort is an excellent herb for liver function, but that means it may make you metabolize some drugs *too *quickly, and make dosing very hard.