Dr. Emmons discusses supplements you can take to ease anxiety and depression symptoms.
Let me talk a little bit about the supplements.
You know, I think that having a diet that gets you plenty of good omega-3 fats, and so by and large that means using olive oil as your primary oil source, and even for cooking unless you are using real high heat and then I think using grape seed oil or another oil that is considered to be safe that doesn’t have a lot of omega-6 in it.
But by and large getting the oil from olive oil and then supplementing with having a lot of fish in your diet and/or taking omega-3 supplements.
Eating a lot of nuts and seeds, I should say eating moderate amounts of nuts and seeds, if you eat too much you will gain weight, but getting those good healthy fats versus getting lots of fresh greens and fruits.
The emphasis there is on fresh though and for some of the B vitamins, in particular, unless you are getting vegetables that have been picked very recently you may not get the real nutrient value from that.
And so I think it still makes sense for people to take a good multivitamin supplement, a good one.
And there’s lots of them out there but it’s very hard to get enough B vitamins by taking a single pill a day.
So if you are taking a multivitamin and you think you are covered and it’s just a one pill a day, at least in my opinion it’s probably not enough for the B vitamins.
So I think it’s good either to take a little more expensive good quality multivitamin – minimum of one big pill twice a day, it might be up to six pills a day depending on the brand, and I think also then a good option for some people is to take a B complex vitamin, especially if they don’t want to spend the money on a real good multivitamin, having a B complex is a good way to cover that.
So that’s the first supplement.
Second supplement I recommend is omega-3 fats – 2000 milligrams a day of fish oil, two tablespoons of flaxseed or one tablespoon of flax oil.
The third thing which is maybe not as important in the Phoenix area as it is in Minnesota but I think it’s important everywhere and that’s vitamin D.
Certainly if you are in the northern half of this country from October thru April, I think you should be on vitamin D.
And I used to recommend 1000 units a day and then 2000 units a day and now I am recommending very often 4,000 to 5000 units a day during the winter months.
In the rest of the year, you know April thru October, if you are not in the sun very much you should still take some 1000 or 2000 units a day in the summer.
I also think that for most people if you suffered from depression or anxiety get a vitamin D level. Don’t really on chance there. Get a vitamin D level. It’s simple, it’s inexpensive.
The normal range for vitamin D is considered anything between 30 and 80. I believe that the level, the lower end of that should be 50. So I think your vitamin D level should be above 50 to really keep you healthy.
The fourth and final kind of basic nutritional supplement that I recommend is a probiotic. I don’t always recommend that because I don’t like to throw too many pills at people but, and it’s also adding more expense.
But I think that a probiotic is especially important for someone who has gastrointestinal symptoms, discomfort or irregular stools or if they are not recovering.
Iff they are not getting better with depression it may be because their body is not doing a good job of absorbing nutrients.
They can eat really healthy but the stomach is not absorbing them. So I think adding a probiotic and then possibly some digestive enzymes if you are just not getting better.
There are several other supplements that I add depending on the pattern of symptoms, 5 HTP is one for people who are serotonin-deficient, who have a lot of those anxious kind of symptoms.
One should not add that to an antidepressant, however, unless you are working with someone who really knows what they are doing with supplements.
But I think 5 HTP is great for a lot of people and then also very often I’ll add L-theanine which is another amino acid, helps calm the brain and it often helps mental focus.
Inositol is a good supplement for anxiety, sometimes even depression. And then some people benefit from Saint John’s wort for kind of mild to moderate depression anxiety and SAM-e is a good alternative for people who are more sluggish, who have really more energizing effect.
So those are kind of the basic supplements that I usually use.
About Dr. Henry Emmons, M.D.:
Dr. Henry Emmons, M.D., is a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness and allied Buddhist therapeutics, and psychotherapeutic caring and insight in his clinical work. Dr. Emmons obtained his medical degree from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and did his residency in psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he was Chief Resident. He practices general and holistic psychiatry and consults with several colleges and organizations nationally. Dr. Emmons is the author of “The Chemistry of Joy: A Three Step Program for Overcoming Depression Through Western Science and Eastern Wisdom.”