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Vitamin B Complex vs. Antidepressants

By Laura Wallace Henderson

Depression is a common condition that can range in severity, often interfering with daily life. Treatment options vary and may include psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, dietary changes and the use of prescription medications. While prescription drugs can help reduce and manage various symptoms of depression, certain vitamins may also help in the treatment of depression.


Depression is the most prevalent type of psychiatric disorder, according to the University of Minnesota. While the exact cause of depression often remains unknown, this disorder generally includes feelings of low self-esteem and loss of pleasure. Symptoms of depression include changes in sleep patterns, loss of energy, feelings of guilt or hopelessness, difficulty concentrating and thoughts of death or suicide. Women experience depression almost twice as often as men.


Prescription antidepressants are frequently helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression, although they may cause unpleasant side effects. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may work by increasing serotonin in your brain. Many individuals have low levels of this brain chemical, although it is unclear how serotonin affects moods. According to, some studies contradict the theory that chemical imbalances in the brain cause depression. SSRI antidepressants can cause nausea, diarrhea, headaches, weight gain, dizziness, decreased sex drive, anxiety and tremors. Some people who take prescription antidepressants may experience an increase in depression, resulting in a higher risk of suicide.

Vitamin B Complex

B-vitamins play an essential role in producing and regulating the neurotransmitters that control depression, although more studies are necessary to determine the benefits of taking B-vitamins to treat mood disorders. A deficiency of B-vitamins may lead to depression and anxiety, as well as other mood disorders. Vitamin B6 is a major player in the B-complex group of vitamins when it comes to depression. B6 helps produce serotonin, possibly reducing symptoms of depression. Unlike prescription antidepressants that perform this action, nutritional supplements do not undergo the extensive testing necessary to approve drugs for use in medical therapies and treatments.


Depression is a serious disorder that requires professional care. Avoid taking vitamin supplements in an attempt to self-treat medical or psychological conditions, without your doctor’s recommendation. Very high doses of B-vitamins can cause side effects. Too much B6 may lead to a loss of sensation in your legs, as well as possible skin reactions, nausea, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. Prescription antidepressants may stop working. Notify your doctor if feelings of depression return while you are taking your medication.

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