Here is a three-part article on one of the top natural supplements in the fight against depression. Depression is a major topic in the health news these days, as the veil is being lifted and people are feeling more and more comfortable disclosing their issues. Here is an introduction to SAMe and depression.
Over in Europe, a supplement has been routinely prescribed by doctors for at least 33 years. Its full name is S-adenosyl-L-methionine, or SAMe for short. In the United States, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that SAMe was released as a dietary supplement. Since then, it’s been widely used and promoted for the treatment of depression, liver disease, and osteoarthritis. Its annual sales exceed $45.0 million, making SAMe one of the most popular items in health food stores.
What is SAMe? Our body makes it from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the amino acid, L- methionine. The latter depends on enough folate and vitamin B12 to work; two vitamins that can also lead to depression if you don’t have them in adequate amounts. SAMe is an energy-creating amino acid that helps break down and regulate many chemicals, including fatty acids, neurotransmitters, proteins, nucleic acids, polysaccharides, and fats located in cell membranes.
Depression is linked with low levels of many chemicals in the brain, such as neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. In the U.S., 10% to 25% of women and five percent to 12% of men will suffer a major depressive disorder in their lifetime. This isn’t just feeling depressed; this is a serious disorder. Apart from causing a large economic burden, depression disrupts many aspects of our physical and mental lives: sleep, appetite, energy level, mood, concentration, and pleasure, to name a few.
One easy way to remember the symptoms of depression is shown here:
D = Depressed mood
E = Energy loss/fatigue
P = Pleasure lost
R = Retardation or excitation
E = Eating changed — appetite/weight
S = Sleep changed
S = Suicidal thoughts
I = I’m a failure (loss of confidence)
O = Only me to blame (guilt)
N = No concentration
You don’t need all these to have major depression, but the more symptoms you have, the stronger the likelihood.