Drug alternatives for depression

ANTIDEPRESSANTS are not effective for all patients with depression and they can also have potentially serious adverse effects. Patients are interested in alternatives, although few ask their GPs if these therapies are effective. 

To assist GPs, a Canadian review has assessed six commonly used therapies.

The reviewers searched the literature for articles on depression and St John’s wort, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, S-adenosylmethionine, acupuncture and exercise.

A meta-analysis of 29 trials compared St John’s wort with antidepressants and placebo. 

The response to the plant was as good as the response to antidepressants with fewer adverse effects. There was, however, some bias in the studies and longer-term trials are needed.

Omega-3 fatty acids were assessed in a systematic review of 35 trials. In patients with major depressive disorder, the fatty acids had a significant effect on the scores of a