Many alternative treatments for depression have been investigated, including changes in diet, exercise, and the addition of natural supplements. Folate is one nutrient that has been investigated as a possible treatment for those diagnosed with depression. A paper published in the Journal of Phsychopharmacology reviewed 3 studies investigating folate supplementation for treating depression to come to a conclusion regarding the effectiveness of the supplement.
Between the 3 studies, a total of 247 participants were included. Subjective feelings of depression were rated according to the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. It was found that supplementation with folate decreased subjective feelings of depression enough to be statistically significant, but not enough to be used as a sole treatment for depression.
The researchers concluded that although folate only makes a small difference, it may still be an effective supplement to add to other depression treatment. While folate did appear to be an effective treatment for depression, the folate status of the participants was unknown. In people with sufficient folate levels, supplementation with folate may not be as effective of a treatment as it might be for people with low folate levels.
Taylor MJ, Carney SM, Goodwin GM, & Geddes JR. (2004). Folate for depressive disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Psychopharmacology (Oxford, England). 18(2), 251-6.
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