Four nutritional supplements could make a big difference to the effectiveness of anti-depression medication, an international study by University of Melbourne researchers and colleagues from Harvard has found.
Hundreds of millions of people take anti-depressants but they may not work for up to 50 per cent of patients.
Researchers did a statistical analysis of over 40 studies and all of the literature dating back to the 1960s.
They found four nutritional supplements, omega 3 fish oils, an activated form of folic acid, methylfolate, vitamin D and a compound called SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) all boosted the effects of medication.
The strongest results were around omega 3 which was found to have a statistically significant effect over a placebo.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Dr Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne led the review and said the findings were encouraging.
“The take home message for the public that if they aren’t responding to their anti-depressant medication that there are additional approaches that they can look at to potentially improve the response to their medication,” he said.
Dr Sarris said anything that could help improve the impact of medication would be of “immense public health benefit”.
“We know the data [is] that [with] first-line anti-depressant use and even second-line [anti-depressant use] you’ve still got 50 per cent of people who aren’t in remission,” he said.
Dr Sarris did however sound a note of caution.
“We’re not suggesting that always this is the first-line approach,” he said.
“But we’re suggesting that this gives another potential option for the medical practitioner to consider an evidence-based approach.”
And any changes should be made under the care of a medical practitioner.
“We always have to be mindful that we’re not recommending people go out and take supplements willy nilly,” Dr Sarris said.
“They [should] get [advice from a] health professional.”
This article first appeared on ‘ABC‘ on 28 April 2016.