Supplements to Consider During the Antidepressant Tapering Process
Can your support your body during a psych med taper? YES! Supplementation can be an instrumental tool when going through the tapering process.
SSRIs, and other psych meds, can deplete your body of nutrients that (counterintuitively) are essential for mood stabilization and brain health (0).
I am a big fan of the work of Dr. Kelly Brogan, and other integrative/functional psychiatrists, and base a lot of my suggestions on her work, so, definitely go check out her content!
As always keep in mind that there is no one “cure-all” pill for our ailments. Supplements work best in addition to diet, exercise, and mindfulness practices. If you’re unsure, always consult with your doctor before starting a supplementation regimen.
Multi-mineral that includes Magnesium, Selenium, Iodine, and Zinc.
Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency is found in 80% of depressed individuals (1), and research has indicated low levels of magnesium in suicidal patients (2). People with prominent anxiety, insomnia or PMS might benefit of dosages higher than 300 mg/day. Good forms of this nutrient are Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Threonate.
Selenium: This mineral is essential in the production of Glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. It is also essential in the production of neurotransmitters and aids in the conversion of the thyroid hormone T4 to its more active form T3. Always opt for the chelated form of Selenium such as selenomethione or selenium glycinate. Typical dosage ranges from 100 to 200 µg/ day.
Iodine: Iodine is extremely important for the formation of thyroid hormone. Environmental toxins (like bromine) can compete with Iodine in your body and deplete it from this essential nutrient. Dosage ranges from 200 µg to 3 mg/ day. Seaweed supplements are a great way to start introducing more Iodine in your diet.
Zinc: Zinc deficiency has been linked to mood disorders such as depression and aggression. Our brains host the higher concentration of Zinc in our bodies. Over 300 enzymes in our body depend on Zinc to function properly! Optimal dosage is from 15 to 30 mg/day as Zinc Gluconate.
Omega-3: These are a type of fatty acids essential in the make-up of cell-membranes, including neurons! EPA and DHA are good sources of Omega 3s. Therapeutic dosage includes 1-2 grams of EPA with DHA in a 3:1 ratio (3).
Activated B Complex: B vitamins are essential components of neurotransmitters. A study conducted by Rush University scientists showed that higher intake of B vitamins (via food or supplements) was associated with a decrease chance of depression for over a decade (4). These are water-soluble vitamins, so our body cannot store it in our fatty tissues. Best forms of these vitamins are Folate (as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate), Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin) in addition to other B vitamins.
Adrenal Glandulars: These whole-food supplements are made from animal glands and tissues and are comprised of many different beneficial compounds like enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, neurotransmitters and lost of nutrients. An Adrenal Cortex formula is best for depressive symptoms, while a Hypothalamus formula is best for those with acute anxiety.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: This is potent antioxidant that helps recycle many compounds necessary for nervous system function, like vitamins C, E, CoQ10 and glutathione. It is also one of the only supplements that can cross the blood-brain barrier where can aid in raising levels of gluthatione in the brain. Dosage is usually at 100 mg/day.
Tryptophan: This is an essential amino acid that is used to produce niacin, essential in the synthesis of serotonin. We cannot produce Tryptophan, so it needs to be acquired via diet or supplementation. Best form is L-Tryptophan and dosages range from 500 mg to 3 mg/day.
Broad-Spectrum Amino Acid Supplement: While tapering, we need to support our brain in producing and getting used to its own neurotransmitters. Amino acids like tyrosine, tryptophan, histidine and arginine are essential for neurotransmitter and neuromodulator synthesis (5). Take dosage as directed in the bottle.
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(0) Pelton, Lavalle, Hawkins, Krinsky. Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook. Lexi-Comp; 2nd Ed., 2001
(1) C. Normam Shealy et al., “The Neurochemistry of depression.” American Journal of Pain Management 2, no. 1 (1992): 13-16
(2) C. M. Bank et al., “Biochemical Markers in Suicidal Patients. Investigations with Cerebrospinal Fluid Amine Metabolites and Neuroendocrine Tests,” Journal of affective disorders 6 (1984); 341-50
(3) Dr. Kelly Brogan, “A Mind of Your Own.” Harper Wave, 2016.
(4) K.A. Skraruspski et al., “Longitudinal Association of Vitamin B-6, Folate, and Vitamin B-12 with Depressive Symptoms among Older Adults Over Time,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, no 2 (Aug 2010)
(5) H. R. Liberman “Amino Acid and Protein Requirements: Cognitive Performance, Stress, and Brain Function.