Supplements For Depression: What Works, What Doesn't

03/01/2011 06:58 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Ray Hainer Health.com

The multibillion-dollar market for dietary supplements is filled with products that claim to boost mood or improve depression. Some products are even billed as an alternative to prescription antidepressants.

Don't believe everything you read on a label. Often the claims made by supplement manufacturers aren't backed up by solid scientific evidence, and the potency and contents of supplements can vary widely. (Some are anything but "natural.") Serious depression generally requires professional help, whether or not that includes antidepressant medication.

That said, some supplements--such as St. John's wort and SAMe (pronounced "sammy")--have been tested fairly extensively and may improve your symptoms if you experience mild depression or related conditions such as seasonal affective disorder.

Below, we break down the evidence (or lack thereof) supporting the most popular supplements used to treat depression and mood.