Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Several herbal remedies, supplements and mind-body techniques are commonly used to relieve depression symptoms. It's not clear how effective these treatments are for seasonal affective disorder, but there are several that may help. Keep in mind, alternative treatments alone may not be enough to relieve your symptoms. Some alternative treatments may not be safe if you have other health conditions or take certain medications.

Supplements used to treat depression include:

  • St. John's wort. This herb has traditionally been used to treat a variety of problems, including depression. It may be helpful if you have mild or moderate depression.
  • SAMe. This is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. SAMe hasn't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat depression in the United States. However, it's used in Europe as a prescription drug to treat depression.
  • Melatonin. This natural hormone helps regulate mood. A change in the season may change the level of melatonin in your body.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help relieve depression symptoms and have other health benefits. Sources of omega-3s include fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Omega-3s are also found in certain nuts and grains and in other vegetarian sources, but it isn't clear whether they have the same effect as fish oil.

SAMe and St. John's wort can interact with medications for other conditions, especially antidepressants. Talk to your doctor before trying either of these remedies to make sure they're safe for you.

Mind-body therapies that may help relieve depression symptoms include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Guided imagery
  • Massage therapy
Sep. 22, 2011

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.