Fighting depression is a crucial factor in fighting heart disease, because depression is not just a mental affliction. It has real physical symptoms that should be treated as aggressively as the more well-known and common contributors to heart disease.
If you suffer any degree of depression, discuss a treatment plan with your doctor and, as always, never engage in any health practice without first consulting your doctor. While you have your doctor's ear, discuss and consider the more accessible and inexpensive non-prescription remedies available to you right now.
1. Fish oil
One of the most widely researched and prescribed supplements for heart disease sufferers is fish oil. Time and again it has been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease on many fronts.
Additionally, Mayo Clinic has this to say about fish oil and depression: "Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in brain function. People with depression may have low blood levels of brain chemicals called eicosapentaenoic (i-koe-suh-pen-tuh-e-NO-ik) acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (doe-koe-suh-hek-suh-e-NO-ik) acid (DHA). EPA and DHA can be found in fish oil."
2. Folic acid
The jury is still out on whether folic acid supplementation is an effective treatment for high homocysteine as it relates to heart disease. However, there is clinical data from several small studies that suggest it elevates mood, including in those who already take anti-depressant medications. As little as 500 mcg of folic acid per day has been shown to be effective.
S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) has been shown to be an effective anti-depressant supplement in numerous studies. In fact, multiple clinical trials comparing SAMe with several conventional anti-depressants showed SAMe to be equally effective against depression and with few side effects. Some researchers speculate that folic acid owes its anti-depressant effect to the fact that one of its metabolites is SAMe. These studies show that about 400 mg/day seems to be an effective dose.
4. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
DHEA is an adrenal hormone known to demonstrate a mood-elevating effect. DHEA is also among the novel agents purported to reduce lipoprotein(a) which has recently been discovered to increase heart attack risk, especially among young adults. The most common dose is 25 mg for women and 25 to 50 mg for men.
You probably already know that exercise reduces heart disease risk, and it should come as no surprise that it also helps with depression. Aerobic exercise has the capacity to improve mood, and studies have shown that as few as 16 weeks of exercise can be as effective as prescription antidepressant medication for some forms of depression.
Talk to your doctor about these treatments and any others that could improve your cardiovascular system and your mental health.