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Dietary Supplement SAM-e Aids Treatment of Depression

Dietary Supplement Aids Treatment of DepressionA provocative new study suggests an over-the-counter dietary supplement can assist treatment of adults with major depressive disorders.

Investigators at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) recommend S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM-e), as an adjunctive treatment for adults with major depressive disorders who do not respond to their treatment with antidepressant medication.

This first-of-its-kind study is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are approximately 14.8 million people with major depressive disorders in the United States.

The study is the first randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted on SAM-e in a population of patients with major depressive disorders.

A total of 73 adults were enrolled in this six-week study and randomly assigned to the placebo control group or the SAM-e treatment group.

SAM-e, in combination with standard depression treatment, was more effective than antidepressant treatment alone in improving measures of depression and remission rates of patients with significant clinical depression. SAM-e-treated subjects had a greater response and remission rate to treatment than the placebo-treated group. SAM-e was well-tolerated with no reported adverse reactions.

“With each study we continue to gain a better understanding of SAM-e’s role in treating depression. This new finding, albeit preliminary and in urgent need of replication, suggests significant, clinically meaningful differences in outcome among patients who had SAM-e added to their antidepressant medication treatment compared to those taking a placebo with their medication,” said George Papakostas, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

“These findings provide preliminary support for the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of SAM-e as an additive therapy for patients with major depressive disorders who do not respond to antidepressant treatment alone. Continued research, however, is urgently needed to more definitively further our understanding of the role of SAM-e in the treatment of adults diagnosed with depression. Adjunctive SAM-e therapy is promising, but cannot yet be recommended for widespread clinical use,” said Papakostas.

The National Institute of Mental Health funded the study. Pharmavite LLC, the manufacturer of Nature Made SAM-e Complete and the leading distributor of SAM-e supplements in the United States, provided the SAM-e supplements and placebo pills used in the study.

To date, at least 40 clinical trials have been conducted on SAM-e directly and in combination with traditional antidepressant medications.

Studies have evaluated SAM-e’s use in naturally restoring a healthy mood to the most recent research for treating major depressive disorders.

This current study follows a pilot study published in 2004 in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, which concluded that antidepressants used in combination with SAM-e were significantly more effective in relieving depression than medication alone.

In an accompanying editorial, J. Craig Nelson, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University California, San Francisco, wrote, “The study of Papakostas, et al. is persuasive. It is the first adjunctive treatment trial of SAM-e and the first placebo-controlled trial of oral SAM-e since 1993. The era of development for new amine reuptake inhibitors appears to be coming to a close. Some novel approaches appear to be dead ends. SAM-e offers a novel mechanism of treatment action and opens up a new area for future exploration. Of course this clinical trial requires replication. And there are numerous other questions about long-term safety and efficacy, comparisons with other adjunctive agents, and selection of appropriate patients. But demonstration of a new treatment for depression with a novel mechanism is exciting news.”

Source: Porter Novelli

Dietary Supplement SAM-e Aids Treatment of Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Dietary Supplement SAM-e Aids Treatment of Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 1 Sep 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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