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5 Best Natural Antidepressants

Got the blues? Boost your mood with these five supplements, which have been found to have natural antidepressant effects.

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Natural antidepressants - ginkgo bilobaPhoto: Shutterstock

Ginkgo biloba

If you’re looking to take the natural approach to treating mild depression, you may want to give ginkgo biloba supplements a try. This herb increases blood flow to the brain, which can boost energy and help improve concentration. Research hasn’t yet linked this herb directly with mood, but one study found it improved attention and memory—common problems experienced with depression—in a week. In another study, the herb improved some of the sexual side effects some prescription antidepressants can cause. Take 40 to 80 milligrams of a ginkgo biloba extract standardized to 24 per cent flavonoids and six per cent terpene lactones two- to three times a day.

Here’s what you need to know about high-functioning depression.

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5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

This molecule increases levels of the mood-boosting brain chemical serotonin. Studies find it significantly improves mood compared to a placebo. Take 50 milligrams three times daily to fight depression.

Check out this simple guide to boosting your brain power.

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Natural antidepressants - B vitamins scattered on tablePhoto: Shutterstock

B vitamins

The B vitamins folate and B12 help the brain convert amino acids into mood-boosting brain chemicals such as serotonin. People older than age 60, whose bodies may poorly absorb these vitamins, and vegetarians, who may not get enough B vitamins through their diets, may benefit most from supplements. To use as part of fighting depression, take 800 micrograms folate and 400 micrograms vitamin B12 daily as part of a B vitamin complex.

These are the essential vitamins your body needs to stay healthy.

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S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)

Like prescription antidepressants, SAMe boosts levels of brain chemicals involved with mood. It works about as effectively as prescription medications and tends to kick in faster (within one- to two weeks) than prescription drugs, which may take three or more weeks to begin working. Take 200 milligrams twice a day for a week. If you don’t feel better after a week, increase the dosage another 200 milligrams for a week. Continue to increase the dosage by 200 milligrams until you feel better, up to 1,200 daily milligrams.

Watch out for these silent signs of nutrient deficiency.

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Natural antidepressants - zinc supplementsPhoto: Shutterstock

Zinc

Low zinc levels may trigger a drop in immunity that affects your mood. In one study of 14 depressed people, those who took a zinc supplement in addition to a prescription antidepressant were significantly less depressed after six weeks than those taking only the antidepressant. If you are experiencing depression, take 25 milligrams daily.

Happiness can be hard to come by. From owning a dog to wearing sunglasses, these tips can boost your mood—and your well-being.