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Teenage depression is medically identical to adult depression, according to MayoClinic.com. Nonetheless, coping with depression as a teenager can pose a different set of challenges than those faced by adults. Since depression can cause long-term cognitive deficits if left untreated, it is important to talk to a medical specialist about counseling and medication for your child. 5-HTP, a substance found naturally in the human body, has been used for more than 20 years to treat minor-to-moderate depression; however, more evidence is needed to conclusively determine its efficacy in adults and teens.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
5-HTP and Serotonin
Although the neuroscience of depression can not be reduced to a single molecule, it can be stated that nearly every pharmaceutical treatment for depression works in part by increasing synaptic serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found throughout the body which plays an important role in regulating biological process as wide-ranging as digestion and body temperature. It is best known, however, for its role in maintaining a healthy mood. As deficits in synaptic serotonin are consistently correlated with depression in both teenagers and adults, nearly all treatments for teenage depression attempt to increase the levels of this neurotransmitter in the brain. Unlike pharmaceutical antidepressants, 5-HTP does not prevent the destruction or re-absorption of serotonin by the body; instead, it serves as a basic building block for the neurotransmitter, theoretically permitting the body to manufacture more.
- Although the neuroscience of depression can not be reduced to a single molecule, it can be stated that nearly every pharmaceutical treatment for depression works in part by increasing synaptic serotonin levels.
- Unlike pharmaceutical antidepressants, 5-HTP does not prevent the destruction or re-absorption of serotonin by the body; instead, it serves as a basic building block for the neurotransmitter, theoretically permitting the body to manufacture more.
Dangers and Side Effects of Ritalin in Adults
According to a review of 5-HTP research by the University of Maryland Medical Center, several studies have concluded that it may be as effective as some pharmaceutical antidepressants in the treatment of moderate depression 23. In a study where the 5-HTP was compared with the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor fluvoxamine, both treatments were found to be equally effective, although 5-HTP had fewer side-effects. However, this research needs to be repeated in larger studies for the findings to be considered conclusive. There are currently no studies that research the effects of 5-HTP exclusively in teenagers.
- According to a review of 5-HTP research by the University of Maryland Medical Center, several studies have concluded that it may be as effective as some pharmaceutical antidepressants in the treatment of moderate depression 2.
There is a low incidence of side-effects with 5-HTP when taken in normal doses. People who are pregnant or nursing should not take 5-HTP, as elevated neurotransmitter levels may impact fetal and early childhood development. Although a study by the National Institutes of Health concluded that antidepressants do not cause an increase in suicidal thoughts in teens, it is nonetheless worth noting that many antidepressant drugs may cause suicidal ideation. By contrast, 5-HTP is not generally associated with an increase in suicidal thoughts in teens or adults.
- There is a low incidence of side-effects with 5-HTP when taken in normal doses.
- By contrast, 5-HTP is not generally associated with an increase in suicidal thoughts in teens or adults.
Ritalin and Metabolism
When combined with many antidepressant drugs, 5-HTP can produce potentially fatal side-effects. 5-HTP is also suspected of interacting with cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan. Consequently, it is important to talk to your doctor before starting your teen on a 5-HTP treatment regimen. Unlike 5-HTP, however, many pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs interact dangerously with alcohol. Since teens are at a greater risk of consuming alcohol under the influence peer pressure, it is important to assess the risks of these medications.
- When combined with many antidepressant drugs, 5-HTP can produce potentially fatal side-effects.
- 5-HTP is also suspected of interacting with cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan.
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- MedScape Reference; Pediatric Depression; March 2011Angelo Giardino, et al;
- University of Maryland Medical Center; 5-Hydroxytryptophan; March 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center; 5-HTP: Possible Interactions; May 2007
- MedLine Plus; 5-HTP; April 2011
- Harvard Health Publishing. What causes depression? Harvard Health. Published June 2009. Updated June 24, 2019.
- Mental Health America. Co-Occurring Disorders And Depression. Published November 18, 2013.
- ADAA. Co-Occurring Disorders. Anxiety and Depression Association of America website. Published 2019.
- DeRubeis RJ, Hollon SD, Amsterdam JD, et al. Cognitive therapy vs medications in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(4):409–416. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.4.409
- Arnow BA, Constantino MJ. Effectiveness of psychotherapy and combination treatment for chronic depression. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2003;59(8):893-905. doi:10.1002/jclp.10181
- Ng QX, Venkatanarayanan N, Ho CYX. Clinical use of Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) in depression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2017;210:211-221. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.048
- Harvard Health Publishing. Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression. Harvard Health. Published April 2013. Updated April 30, 2018.
- American Psychological Association. Depression. APA website. Published 2019.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. Depression overview. NAMI website. Reviewed August 2017.
- National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center. Revised February 2018.
Canaan Downs began working as a grant writer for nongovernmental organizations in 2003. While in the Himalayas, he managed the Tibetan Medical Digitalization Project, and he also writes for "The Climber" magazine, the "New Zealand Alpine Journal" and 27Crags.com. Downs received his Master of Arts in religious studies at Victoria University of Wellington.