One of the biggest lies in modern psychiatry is that depressed people have Prozac deficiency syndrome. Despite physicial exam findings that can discover specific deficiencies/excesses in the brain and specific urine tests that can effectively evaluate neurotransmitter levels, the mainstays of modern psychiatry remain non-targeted antidepressant drugs. The New York Times recently broke a story showing that as often as studies showing a benefit from antidepressants are published, studies showing that they don't work are suppressed (read the article here.)
I always recommend having a neurotransmitter test done (I use a lab called NeuroScience) to pinpoint brain deficiencies and excesses in individuals with depression. An excellent physcial exam can also reveal relevant therapeutic strategies, whether they include lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, exercise, supplements, or somatic therapies like chiropractic care.
Two supplements are gaining attention in the treatment of depression that I would like to mention here; creatine monohydrate and whey protein. For those of you who have worked on becoming no-neck muscle heads, these will be familiar, as they are mainstays in the world of fitness.
Athletes use creatine monohydrate to re-energize muscle cells during workouts. What new research shows is that that creatine does the same thing in your brain! The study involved giving 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate to people with "treatment resistant" depression for 4 weeks. Astoundingly, all the patients improved significantly! If this were a drug trial it would of headlined on every newspaper and television show in the world. Since creatine is a cheap, non-patentable supplement, the research was only seen by people who read the journal Bipolar Disorders (you can read the study here). One warning; the researchers gave the creatine to 2 people with bipolar disorder and they both developed hypomania/mania--people with bipolar should not use creatine.
Next, Whey protein has shown some promise in normalizing neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Disturbances in these chemical balances is associated with depression. One study (read it here) looked at serotonin levels and cognitive ability (memory, in this case) among people taking whey protein. They found increases in serotonin and improvements in memory. Another study again found increases in serotonin with use of a protein in whey protein, as well as better sleep, and "improved behavior patterns" in people who has poor sleep prior to supplementation (see the study here). Whey protein is a complete protein that both supplies the brain with precursors needed to create neurotransmitters, and increases the body's production of glutathione--your most potent antioxidant and detoxifier (see the whey protein page). I offer an excellent whey protein product in my store-- click here to view it.
Last, don't forget about omega-3's--you can read more about them in the treatment of depression in a separate article--click here.