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Thread: Supplements/Vitamins Question - for depression page

  1. #1
    jenn26point2's Avatar
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    Supplements/Vitamins Question - for depression

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    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 won’t help with depression.
    Has anyone had any luck with other supplements for depression?
    Primal since March 5, 2012
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  2. #2
    Neckhammer's Avatar
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    Good reports with getting vitamin D replete along with Primal eating and sensible exercise.

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    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).
    Journal on depression/anxiety
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    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.
    Journal on depression/anxiety
    Currently trying to figure out WTF to eat (for IBS-C).

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    jenn26point2's Avatar
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    Quote 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: 182 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)




  6. #6
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    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!!

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    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. :-)

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    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: 182 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)




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

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

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    namelesswonder's Avatar
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    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.
    Journal on depression/anxiety
    Currently trying to figure out WTF to eat (for IBS-C).

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