Treatment for depression is usually multifaceted, and there is no doubt that nutrition plays an important role. Research has shown that the body chemistry of depressed people is altered in various ways and that deficiencies in neurotransmitters, hormonal imbalances, and other nutritional deficits can contribute to clinical depression. Also, many people with depression do not eat enough, overeat, or eat nonnutritious foods. New research has also connected depression to inflammation and oxidative stress, which are both appropriately managed with nutritional supplements.
Major depressive disorder is sometimes called major depression, clinical depression, or unipolar depression. Unipolar depression is so named because the disorder is characterized only by depression, as opposed to bipolar disorder, which is characterized by both depression and episodes of mania. People with major depressive disorder may have recurrent episodes of depression, and there is evidence that many people experience their first episodes of depression at a young age (Kessler RC et al 1998; Larsson B et al 1998). Episodes of depression may be separated by years or months and may become more common as a person ages. After an episode is over, most people will recover completely. People who recover only partially are more likely to experience another episode. Among adolescents, clinical depression is associated with substance abuse and suicide (Kessler RC et al 1998), and even among adults, as many as 15 percent of people diagnosed with depression die by suicide. Clinical depression is also associated with vascular and cerebrovascular disease (Thomas AJ et al 2003, 2004; Tiemeier H 2003).
SAMe is derived directly from methionine. Its job is to provide methyl groups for reactions throughout the body, including the methylation of nucleic acids (RNA and DNA), proteins, and structures throughout the brain. SAMe is the precursor to such nutrients as creatine, glutathione, taurine, L-carnitine, and melatonin and can be found in almost every tissue in the body. Clinical trials comparing both oral and intramuscular forms of SAMe to tricyclic antidepressants show SAMe to be as effective as tricyclic antidepressants in reducing depressive symptoms (Mischoulon D et al 2002; Pancheri P et al 2002). SAMe is associated with fewer adverse events (Pancheri P et al 2002) and is better tolerated than conventional antidepressants (Delle CR et al 2002). Studies show a significant correlation between plasma levels of SAMe and improvement of depressive symptoms (Bell KM et al 1994). Some researchers propose that SAMe produces its antidepressant effects faster than conventional antidepressants and may potentiate the effects of tricyclic antidepressants (Mischoulon D et al 2002). It has been studied in the treatment of depression, schizophrenia, demyelination diseases, liver disease, dementia, arthritis, and other conditions. It is also necessary for normal circadian rhythms.
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