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Depression is a medical condition that affects about 1 in 10 U.S. adults. Also, experts estimate that some 5 percent of U.S. teens have moderate to severe major depression. Mood, thoughts, physical health, and behavior all may be affected. The symptoms and severity of depression can vary from person to person. Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
  • Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
  • Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless (this can be a common symptom among adolescents)
  • Having problems with sleep and feeling tired
  • Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
  • Experiencing pain that doesn’t improve with treatment
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself.

Depression can be treated with conventional medicine, including antidepressants and certain types of psychotherapy.

Some people might consider complementary health approaches, such as St. John’s wort or S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), for depression. St. John’s wort, however, isn’t consistently effective for depression. Also, it limits the effectiveness of many prescription medicines. With SAMe, the evidence that SAMe supplements might be helpful for depression isn’t conclusive, and information on long-term safety is limited. Don’t use a complementary health approach to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about depression. For more information on depression, visit the National Institute of Mental Health's Web site.

For More Information

NCCIH Clearinghouse

The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226

Telecommunications relay service (TRS): 7-1-1


Email: (link sends email)

Know the Science

NCCIH and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide tools to help you understand the basics and terminology of scientific research so you can make well-informed decisions about your health. Know the Science features a variety of materials, including interactive modules, quizzes, and videos, as well as links to informative content from Federal resources designed to help consumers make sense of health information.

Explaining How Research Works (NIH)

Know the Science: How To Make Sense of a Scientific Journal Article

Understanding Clinical Studies (NIH)


A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Depression and Complementary Health Approaches—Randomized Controlled Trials


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The National Institute of Mental Health’s mission is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.

Mental Health Medications

Depression Basics


Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-866-615-6464


Email: (link sends email)

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: February 2020