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  • Supplements/Vitamins Question - for depression

    I am looking to stop taking my anti-depressant (Lexapro). I saw on a journal that 5-HTP can be taken for depression, but the risks kind of worried me.

    According to WebMD:

    5-HTP is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for use. There is concern that it can cause a serious side effect called eosinophilia myalgia syndrome. Some people think this side effect is only caused by a contaminant in some 5-HTP products; but there is not enough scientific evidence to know if it is caused by 5-HTP, a contaminant, or some other factor. Until more is known, 5-HTP should be avoided.

    Other potential side effects of 5-HTP include heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, sexual problems, and muscle problems.
    There are drug interactions too, but mostly they are with pain killers like demerol and tramedol and antidepressants, but my reason for taking the 5-HTP would be to eliminate the antidepressants, so I don't think that would be an issue. But the overall warning bothers me.

    I am currently taking L-methylfolate (15 mg compared to the 400 mcg available over the counter in a supplement) as prescribed by my doctor which is supposed to stimulate the uptake of seratonin, but according to WebMD:

    Limited research suggests that folic acid alone wont help with depression.
    Has anyone had any luck with other supplements for depression?
    Primal since March 5, 2012
    SW: 221 | CW: 204 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)




  • #2
    Good reports with getting vitamin D replete along with Primal eating and sensible exercise.

    Comment


    • #3
      Check out these books:
      The Mood Cure
      Depression-Free: Naturally
      Primal Body, Primal Mind

      I have read the first two and they go in-depth about what supplements may be beneficial, how they work etc. They are a bit "hipe-y" in that they really push this as a cure, but I believe The Mood Cure also encourages a very primal-like diet FWIW. I chose not to follow every damn supplement suggested in those books because the # is rather absurd and I picked out what I felt would help based on my symptoms (after several re-reads) and the information in those books.

      That information from WebMD is probably outdated and based on some problems with l-Tryptophan that I believe occurred in the early 90s. Some batches manufactured in China were spoiled in some manner and people had very bad reactions to it, so L-Tryptophan was banned for a while, and then just difficult to obtain. You can find it on all kinds of sites and in supplement stores now. WebMD also will tell you that none of these things have been shown to work, but anecdotally, I've found 5-HTP for depression and L-Tyrosine for anxiety actually WORK for me instead of making me feel not-me and somewhat smothered, as the several other SSRI's I'd tried did. "Depression-Free: Naturally" says not to use 5-HTP, to use Tryptophan instead, but I can't remember why, and the other books don't say that, so I took the risk and it's been fine. There are other options too, if those don't work for you, like St. John's Wort, or SAMe.

      I take 50mg of 5-HTP at dinner, 50mg within an hour of bed. 500mg of Tyrosine in the morning. I also take 10,000IU of Vitamin D (will get re-tested within the next couple of months, have been deficient for the last several years at least; this basically cured my Seasonal Affective Disorder), ferritin chelate & vitamin C (only until I run out, my iron levels were a bit low), and magnesium (before bed, seems to help with sleep as well).
      Depression Lies

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      • #4
        Also I was on ~10-15mg of Lexapro when I started 5-HTP and then began reducing the dose. My doctor (I didn't tell them about the supplements, don't necessarily recommend that) said to cut the dose every few weeks, as little as possible by halving pills or taking them every other day, as I feel I can. Every 2-3 weeks, I had a few days of rather terrible depression & anxiety, and then it would pass. This has happened to me before when coming off of SSRIs, and I think increasing the dose of 5-HTP for the withdrawal period might've helped, but it was better than being on the SSRIs, to me.
        Depression Lies

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        • #5
          Originally posted by namelesswonder View Post
          Also I was on ~10-15mg of Lexapro when I started 5-HTP and then began reducing the dose. My doctor (I didn't tell them about the supplements, don't necessarily recommend that) said to cut the dose every few weeks, as little as possible by halving pills or taking them every other day, as I feel I can. Every 2-3 weeks, I had a few days of rather terrible depression & anxiety, and then it would pass. This has happened to me before when coming off of SSRIs, and I think increasing the dose of 5-HTP for the withdrawal period might've helped, but it was better than being on the SSRIs, to me.
          Did you notice any brain zaps when you weaned off the Lexapro? If I take my pill even 1 hour late, I get terrible brain zaps. That is what is holding me back from stopping the Lexapro b/c the brain zaps go on for MONTHS sometimes in patients who have stopped using it. They're so disorienting and annoy me to the point of a furious anger.

          I take 50 mg daily and 15 mg l-methylfolate, as well as a multi (with 400 mcg of folic acid). Right now, I feel pretty stinking good mentally. No depressive episodes that I have noticed, no anxiety that I have noticed. I still feel like I have too much going on in my head and I get overwhelmed with stress like anyone else, but I feel better. I contribute the wellness to the Primal WOE as nothing else has changed.

          I know that I can tailor my diet to aid in seratonin production and eventually get off of medication, but I don't know what to do to make it happen. Have to research it some more. I will look into those books you mentioned. Thank you.
          Primal since March 5, 2012
          SW: 221 | CW: 204 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)



          Comment


          • #6
            I really enjoyed this Dr's books (he unfortunately died last year). But this method is, not so oddly, is right in line with Primal beliefs that fats are good for us:

            Amazon.com: The Instinct to Heal: Curing Depression, Anxiety and Stress Without Drugs and Without Talk Therapy (9781594861581): David Servan-Schreiber: Books

            A few psychologists in the family have found this book incredibly helpful in their practices. Much luck to you!!

            you aren't what you eat - you are what you don't poop. Wavy Gravy

            Today I am Fillyjonk. Tommorow I will be Snufkin.

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            • #7
              Omega-3's have been clinically demonstrated to help with depression, as has exercise. If you're not doing either of those, I would highly recommend it. Vitamin D can also be helpful, especially if you're struggling with depression that seems to coincide with the winter months (Seasonal Affective Disorder). If you haven't had your thyroid levels checked recently, I would highly suggest that as well - many cases of depression are actually caused or exacerbated by hypothyroidism. And, of course, if you're not seeing a therapist that would help too. :-)

              Comment


              • #8
                I get annoyed talking to therapists... I don't feel like we get anywhere because I don't feel like I have any hidden skeletons that are haunting me.

                I exercise almost daily. I used to exercise more when I was following CW, but I at least get 30 minutes of movement M-F. I walk to and from the gym over lunch (15 minute), and then spend about 30 minutes in the gym either doing the 4 essential movements, riding the stationary bike, walking, sprinting, or using the stepmill (like a treadmill, but with steps). I do the 4 essential movements 2-3x per week and sprint once. I also take a nightly walk with my sisters that lasts for about 20 minutes or so (1 mile) pushing a stroller.

                I haven't had my thyroid checked for a couple of years. Then it was "normal". I haven't thought about having it checked again. I will consider it.

                I have trouble remembering my fish oil capsules.
                Primal since March 5, 2012
                SW: 221 | CW: 204 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)



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                • #9
                  St. John’s Wort and Holy Basil by new chapter

                  Also, can experiment with Gaba, Kava Kava and L-theanine

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                  • #10
                    I have a hard time remembering Omega-3 as well, but sometimes it's simply because I don't want to swallow it (I have Carlson's in liquid form, it's not terrible, but it's not really great either).

                    I'm not sure what you mean by "brain zaps".

                    Reducing from that high of a dose (50mg you said?) will take time. I would definitely suggest you ask your doctor about how to safely reduce. My suggestion would be to take it 10mg at a time until you get to 10mg, then go down to 5mg, then every other day, then stop, and give it a few weeks to a month between each reduction to see how you feel/adjust. If you add supplements (which you'll read about in those books), I think that would probably help, but it might be helpful to know how you are without anything, if you're not at risk for suicide or self-harm, by just going au-natural & primal at first. I've probably messed up my brain a few times by going cold-turkey so many times so I wouldn't be surprised if I'm dependent on things like 5-HTP for the rest of my life, but I've only been doing this for ~6 months and I'd been depressed and on and off SSRIs for much longer.

                    My symptoms on SSRIs: not feeling like myself, not feeling spontaneous, not really feeling happy, but not sad either, nervousness, inability to keep eye contact. It never really kept the dark thoughts or depressive episodes away. I felt a bit more clear headed on SSRIs then when I wasn't, and increasing the dose tended to give me nightmares or a foggy brain (can't think, can't remember, just feel like blah).

                    Symptoms on 5-HTP: vivid dreams, but not usually nightmares, much more even moods to the point that I can recognize bad moods and train myself to distract myself until I'm feeling better instead of doing something stupid, improved energy, improved sleep...shall I go on?

                    FWIW, I did talk therapy for a number of years. It always seemed like it was doing something, but I'd eventually quit and "relapse" and feel like I had to go back. I never felt like I learned anything from it, just kept blaming myself for something I couldn't control and getting more and more frustrated about that. I'm still very angry with those doctors for not offering up any more suggestions for dealing with depression because clearly, talk-therapy and medication was not helping me.
                    Depression Lies

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by namelesswonder View Post
                      I have a hard time remembering Omega-3 as well, but sometimes it's simply because I don't want to swallow it (I have Carlson's in liquid form, it's not terrible, but it's not really great either).
                      Mine is a capsule. I take 3 of them. One with every meal and I inevitably forget about them ALL the TIME!

                      Originally posted by namelesswonder View Post
                      I'm not sure what you mean by "brain zaps".
                      You might not have experienced them having been on such a low dose. I experienced them with Celexa (I think it was Celexa... I always confuse Celexa and Celebrex), Effexor, Effexor XR, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Paxil, and Cymbalta. Sadly, midway through the day, I'd have zaps from Wellbutrin, so the doctor doubled my dose thinking I was metabolizing it quickly, having me take 150 mg in the AM and 150 mg with lunch. I quickly turned into a bitter, angry person. Add prednisone for a poison ivy rash and picture a roid rage... that was me.

                      Brain zaps are like electrical charges that shoot from your head down your extremities. it's like a lightning bolt hitting the top of your head, spreading through your jaw and chin, down your arms and/or down your feet. I don't think they're harmful, but they are CERTAINLY disorienting! I parked my car on a slight downhill one time and had a zap as I was stepping out of the car. I released the brake and my car rolled forward a bit and I had a panic striken moment where I thought I'd left my car in gear. It sucked very much bad!! I hate zaps!

                      Originally posted by namelesswonder View Post
                      My symptoms on SSRIs: not feeling like myself, not feeling spontaneous, not really feeling happy, but not sad either, nervousness, inability to keep eye contact. It never really kept the dark thoughts or depressive episodes away. I felt a bit more clear headed on SSRIs then when I wasn't, and increasing the dose tended to give me nightmares or a foggy brain (can't think, can't remember, just feel like blah).
                      This is how I feel but things have gotten a touch better since ditching the Adderall and much better since going primal. I actually laugh occasionally now. I'm still lacking sponteneaity (sp??) and my libido is absolutely shot. I'm hoping I can repair it. There are supplements I saw on WebMD that are supposedly good for libido, but we'll cross that bridge later, me thinks.
                      Primal since March 5, 2012
                      SW: 221 | CW: 204 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)



                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Oh libido. Mine started creeping back after slowly creeping away after I dropped oral birth control & Lexapro (I've also been on Prozac, Celexa, Wellbutrin XL/SR, and had a few days on Effexor but it made me manic). It's still hit or miss, but primal + managing the depression & anxiety is working pretty well I think. I'm stable enough to actually break down when I'm just being a nutter and can choose not to be (putting bad thoughts aside), and when it's just not in my control right then.
                        Depression Lies

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                        • #13
                          Being married and not wanting any more kids (pretty sure we're done with kids), I will remain with the birth control, I think. It's easier. I use the shot and was a raging nypho on it as a teen and young adult.

                          I just want to WANT to have sex. That would certainly be nice.

                          But happy would be better. I don't feel sad, but I don't feel happy either. I feel neutral. I don't like neutral. I want to feel happy.
                          Primal since March 5, 2012
                          SW: 221 | CW: 204 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)



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                          • #14
                            Since it hasn't been mentioned...you should consider your B12 levels as well. B12 deficiency is common and can play a roll. I know it did for me. I see that you have 81lbs to lose...a good guess is you have taken a lot of stomach acid medicines which can exacerbate B12 absorption issues. I'd have it checked. I think fixing B12 was the number one thing that allowed me to lose 100lbs.

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                            • #15
                              I watched a movie about the Gerson Therapy and they outlined the use of Niacin (vitamin b3) for depression.
                              Up to 3000mg for severely depressed individuals.
                              My sister in law is depressed and her life is so hectic that her meds are given to her by my mother in law, so we slipped in some niacin (about 300mg per day) into her meds and her mood improved almost overnight.

                              She went back to her Dr to have her depression meds reduced and when my mother in law told him what we had done, he insisted that we stop giving her the niacin as it could have "been bad for her".

                              So we did, and she is back to her old depressed self...

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