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Useful Supplements and Herbs To Manage Depression

Depression is a common condition, affecting millions of people across the globe. A 2020 report states that the prevalence of depressive symptoms in the US was 3 times higher during the COVID-19 pandemic as compared to that before the pandemic.1

While medications and psychotherapy are mainly used in the treatment of depression, herbs and supplements to manage depression can also be beneficial.

Useful Supplements To Manage Depression

As some people prefer natural methods of treatment, herbs and supplements may be useful for milder forms of depression and are best taken with medical advice.

People with depression may present with a variety of symptoms and the severity too varies. However, some of the common symptoms include feeling low, loss of interest in daily work or activities that they once enjoyed, feeling of emptiness, difficulty in concentration, and cognitive difficulties. Changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, loss of energy, the feeling of worthlessness, and recurrent thoughts of death may also be seen in some patients.

Here are some of the best herbs and supplements to manage depression.

Some studies have shown that certain herbs and supplements to manage depression can help reduce the symptoms. Based on the available study black cohosh, chamomile, chaste berry, lavender, passionflower, and saffron can help mitigate anxiety or depression.2 These may also be helpful in cancer patients by reducing medication load and related side effects.

Several studies have also acknowledged the role of nutrition in mental health and supplements to manage depression. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly eicosapentaenoic acid, folate-based supplements, and N‐acetylcysteine have proved to be an effective adjunctive treatment for depression.3

Vitamin B

Along with neurological function, vitamin B also helps in mood regulation. As B vitamins help in the production of neurotransmitters and feel-good hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), these are considered one of the best herbs and supplements to manage depression.

Studies have shown that vitamin B deficiency can affect memory, thus related to cognitive decline and dementia. Vitamins B1, B3, B6, B9, and B12 are important for neuronal function and their deficiencies have been linked to depression.4

Folate-based supplements like methyl folate could reduce the symptoms of depression and showed positive effects as compared to the placebo group.3

Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin has proved its benefits in several areas and is also one of the most effective supplements to manage depression.

Studies have reported that the use of vitamin D could significantly reduce depressive symptoms in patients with clinical depression.3

Experts believe that low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression and there exists a relation, which must be further investigated.5

Some studies have confirmed that psychotic and mood disorders are liked with significantly reduced levels of essential nutrients, which also include zinc, folate, and Vitamin D.3 Also, vitamin D was found to significantly reduce the depressive symptoms.


This mineral is crucial for brain health and is counted as one of the essential supplements to manage depression. Zinc plays an important role in cell growth, metabolism, and regulation of immune, endocrine, and neuronal functions.

A 2013 study has concluded that depression is linked to lower serum levels of zinc and that there may be potential benefits of zinc supplementation in patients with depression, although more investigation is needed.6

However, a 2020 study reports that the highest level of zinc intake was associated with a 28% risk of depression and thus concluded that zinc offers potential benefits to reduce the risk of depression.7


Magnesium, an essential mineral for the nerves can also be a great supplement to manage depression. Deficiency of magnesium is commonly seen in people with depressive symptoms and magnesium supplementation can help reduce the symptoms.

In a 2016 study on 60 depressed people, 30 people were given 250mg magnesium oxide while the other 30 people were given a placebo and the reduction of symptoms was more prominent in the magnesium group than in the placebo group. The study concluded that daily consumption of 500 mg of Magnesium oxide tablets for at least 8 weeks by depressed patients with a magnesium deficiency can lead to improvement in depression and magnesium levels.8

Omega – 3

Omega-3-fatty acids are known for their health benefits in various areas and depression could be one of them. Some studies have confirmed the benefit of using omega-3-fatty acids in people with depression while some studies have not been able to find a clear link.

A 2015 review presented that several studies are showing that omega-3 can be effective against depression and psychiatric disorders but the data on the efficacy of omega-3 in managing depression is conflicting.9

A 2019 study showed that omega-3 PUFAs with EPA of more than 60% at a dosage of 1 g/d would have beneficial effects on depression.10


N‐acetylcysteine was also considered potentially effective in the treatment of mood disorders. Some studies have shown that it reduces depressive symptoms, improves functionality, and has good tolerability.11

Herbs To Manage Depression

Herbs to manage depression mainly include the following:

St. John’s Wort

One of the best-known herbs and supplements to manage depression is St. John’s Wort. Several studies have confirmed that this is a potential treatment for depression and is used in various alternative treatment methods as well. However, as it can have other effects, it must be taken with caution and only with medical advice.

A 2017 study confirmed that the use of this herb has comparable efficacy and safety with SSRIs and further studies are needed to ascertain its benefits.12

A 2000 study of the use of St. John’s Wort for treatment of depression showed an increased response rate of 23% to 55% higher than with placebo and ranged from 6% to 18% lower compared with tricyclic antidepressants, while its rate of side effects was also low.13


Known for its calming and soothing properties, Chamomile is also one of the best herbs and supplements to manage depression.

In a 2009 study, the antianxiety and antidepressant action of oral chamomile extract in patients with anxiety and depression was examined. The results showed a reduction in symptoms over time in the chamomile group as compared to the placebo group.14


Lavender is known for its fragrance and for the relaxing effects it has on the mind. It can be considered one of the beneficial herbs and supplements to manage depression.

In a 2021 study lavender aromatherapy showed a positive effect in reducing anxiety and depression. The results showed that lavender was superior to the placebo or no treatment in reducing anxiety, depression, and systolic blood pressure.15


Ginseng can help reduce stress, which is primarily thought to be one of the causes of depression. Some studies have confirmed that ginseng demonstrated similar levels of efficacy as the commercial antidepressant fluoxetine.16


A popular spice can also be one of the herbs to manage depression.

A 2014 study showed that the antidepressant properties of Saffron are due to its serotonergic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. It concluded that saffron can be used for the treatment of mild to moderate depression.17

These herbs and supplements to manage depression can be helpful the use may vary based on the individual condition.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 1, 2022

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