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8 Things To Know About Depression and Complementary Health Approaches

Many people with depression turn to complementary health approaches in addition to or in place of conventional treatment. Research suggests that some approaches may be modestly helpful in reducing depression symptoms. For other approaches, benefits are uncertain or there are safety concerns.

Here are 8 things you should know about complementary health approaches for depression:

  1. Depression can be a serious illness. Don’t use a complementary health approach to replace conventional care or to postpone seeing a health care provider about symptoms of depression. 

  2. Some evidence suggests acupuncture may modestly reduce depression symptoms.

  3. Music therapy may provide short-term benefits for people with depression. 

  4. Studies in adults, adolescents, and children have suggested that yoga may be helpful in reducing depressive symptoms.

  5. It’s uncertain whether omega-3 fatty acid supplements are helpful for symptoms of depression. 

  6. Some research on the herb St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has suggested that it may be helpful for depression symptoms, but not all studies agree. There’s an important concern about the safety of St. John’s wort: it can interact in dangerous, sometimes life-threatening ways with a variety of medicines. 

  7. Current scientific evidence does not support the use of other dietary supplements, including S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) or inositol, for depression.

  8. Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.