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SAMe is Effective for Depression

But talk to your doctor before you take it

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Updated November 22, 2003

Updated November 22, 2003

Several recent studies have added to a body of evidence suggesting that the substance SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine) is an effective antidepressant.  In the U.S. SAMe is available over-the-counter and in health food stores.

A 2002 Italian study found SAMe to be as effective as imipramine, one of the original triclycic antidepressants.  The researchers also found that SAMe subjects reported fewer side-effects than subjects who took imipramine.  This research and earlier studies are summarized in these MEDLINE abstracts.  While superior this particular study did not compare SAMe to placebo, previous studies have found it to be superior to placebo.

SAMe is a natural compound that appears to function as a methyl donor to many neurotransmitters, proteins, and lipids that may be involved in depression.  It appears to have a faster onset than traditional antidepressants - which often take two weeks or more to work. 

Should you take it?  That's a difficult question to answer, and the answer depends very much on your individual situation.  If you are already taking an antidepressant you should not take SAMe.  Little research has been done on how SAMe will interact with other medications.  If you are not currently taking an antidepressant you should discuss SAMe and other antidepressants with your doctor.   While SAMe appears to be an effective antidepressant, long term studies have not been done.  SAMe does appear to hold promise as a natural substance that helps depression.

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