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Over-the-Counter Pills for Depression

author image Cindy Ell
Cindy Ell began writing professionally in 1990. A former medical librarian, she has written materials for hospitals, medical associations, the "Nashville Scene" and "Coping Magazine." She received her Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Massachusetts and her Master of Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute. She is currently a full-time freelance medical writer.
Over-the-Counter Pills for Depression
Persistent or severe sadness can be a symptom of depression, an often-treatable disorder.

Transient feelings of disappointment, grief and sadness are not medical conditions, but inevitable parts of the human experience. However, when these emotions are severe, long-lasting or interfere with daily functioning, they may be signs of depression, a serious mental health disorder. Some over-the-counter supplements in pill form may help. Ask your doctor about your treatment options if you are troubled by feelings of depression.

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S-adenosyl-L-methionine, abbreviated as SAMe, is a naturally occurring chemical found in the human body. Widely available as a dietary supplement, SAMe may be effective for mild-to-moderate depression, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. SAMe may work by raising the brain's supply of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved with mood and motivation. Scientific studies on SAMe have yielded mixed results, and some have suffered from methodological flaws that call their results into question. More research is necessary before SAMe can be widely recommended.

St. John's Wort

The yellow-flowered herb known as St. John's wort has received much scientific scrutiny for its antidepressant properties. While it may take a month or more for it to work, numerous clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in easing the symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. St. John's wort may interfere with the action of certain drugs, including birth control pills.


The brain requires adequate amounts of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin, in order to function properly. Folate is a building block in the production of certain neurotransmitters that influence mood and motivation. Registered dietitian Karen Schroeder Kassel writes that low levels of folate in the bloodstream may account for some cases of depression. Leafy green vegetables, beans, fortified grains and citrus fruits are rich in folate, but a daily multi-vitamin pill with added minerals may help those whose diets do not include ample folate sources. If you are depressed, ask a qualified health care professional if your folate levels may be a factor.

Fish Oil

A 2009 article in "Nutrition Reviews" states that fish oil, available in pills or liquid form, may be beneficial in depression. Fish oil is an abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids, substances that make up a significant portion of the brain. In addition to easing depression symptoms on its own, fish oil may help boost the effectiveness of conventional antidepressant medications. Use fish oil pills under your doctor's supervision, as they may interfere with blood clotting.

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