Taking the supplement S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe) in addition to prescription antidepressants may help patients who have not responded to single-drug treatment, according to a Massachusetts General Hospital study.

In fact, researchers found this dual treatment improved or completely relieved symptoms of depression in the majority of patients they studied.

The Study

The study included 30 people who continued to have significant depression after more than one month of treatment with antidepressants such as Prozac, Effexor and Paxil. Over the six-week study, they continued those drugs along with a supplemental dose of SAMe, a substance found in every human cell and available as an over-the-counter supplement.

The participants started by taking 400 milligrams (mg) of SAMe twice a day. After two weeks, the dosage was increased to 800 mg twice a day.

At the end of the study, 50% of the patients had significant improvement in their symptoms and 43% experienced complete remission of their depression.

The researchers note that the study was small and lacked a control group, So patients knew they were taking an active dose of SAMe.

Shock Therapy Helps Seriously Ill

Shock therapy, also called electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can help improve the mood and quality of life of people who are experiencing major depression, say researchers.

Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center found that ECT improved mood in 66% of 77 patients diagnosed with major depression.

During ECT, patients' brains are given a brief electrical shock to produce a generalized seizure that is visible on a brain scan, but is not experienced by the patients.

Earlier Wake Forest research found that patients treated with ECT showed greater improvements in function and quality of life than patients who took antidepressants.

"ECT produces a net improvement in health for most patients," says study author Dr. Vaughn McCall, a professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Wake Forest.

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