Depression: Does nutrition have an adjunctive treatment role?

Journal: Nutrition & Dietetics. Volume 63 Issue 4 Page 213. December 2006. Authors and affiliations: Volker D, Ng J. Department of Psychology, University of Sydney, Chippendale (Volker); Goodman Fielder Commercial, North Ryde, New South Wales (NG) – Australia. [E-mail: diannevolker@iinet.net.au ] DOI:10.1111/j.1747-0080.2006.00109.x

Depression is a serious illness, affecting more than one million Australians each year. It causes significant morbidity and is a major risk factor for deliberate self-harm and suicide. Depression was traditionally viewed as a personality weakness, for which few treatment options were available. The simplistic view that depression is a personality weakness has changed in recent times. Depression is now widely recognized as a mood disorder with underlying biological (biochemical and genetic) and psychosocial causes and as such is responsive to a number of different treatments.

The aim of the present paper is to review the literature related to dietary manipulation and how manipulation may assist in treating this illness. Evidence reviewed supports a potential therapeutic benefit of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the alleviation of negative symptoms associated with depression. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, optimal omega balance, folate, tryptophan, vitamin B6, B12, S-adenosyl-L-methionine, and Hypericum perforatum [St. John’s wort] may all serve as adjuncts to psychosocial and pharmacological therapies, with positive implications for long-term prognosis.

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