To ask if you have tried 5HTP / St John's Wort for depression?

(109 Posts)
DownAndConfused Fri 18-Sep-15 22:47:07

I have a duplicate thread in Mental Health but no traffic so sorry if this feels in the wrong place. I just wanted to know if anyone has found either of these useful for depression? I tried an AD (escitalopram) but it made me really anxious and upset my stomach. I'm having counselling and on a waiting list for CBT, I am hoping to have another baby but my doctor said that you can't be on antidepressants and get pregnant as it causes heart problems for the baby?

So I saw online that 5HTP and St John's Wort can be good and maybe someone could tell me if they are good? I could stop before having a baby but maybe they would help first.

Branleuse Fri 18-Sep-15 22:53:45

ive used both and both are good in different ways

%htp is good with anxiety too, its calming and can help with sleep, although can give vivid dreams, but its very effective because it actually replenishes seratonin in the brain. I definitely think its worth trying if youre thinking about antidepressants, but start off with a low dose such as 50mg as that was enough for me for ages.

Ive used st johns wort here and there but usually only on an irregular "as and when" which is not supposed to be the best way of using it, but its still enough, and i quite often use the tincture to give me a boost here and there if im dipping. The only time i took it regularly it made my skin really sensitive to the sun and it was summer so i stopped, but I think theyre both worth trying, because the side effects were much less than any of the prescribed antids ive used, and they were also both much easier to come off when I felt ready to

DownAndConfused Fri 18-Sep-15 23:00:54

Thankyou Branleuse I don't have anxiety at the minute, I am just very tearful and have found it really hard to do the things I have to do for my home business and even keeping the house tidy! Do you think they would help with that?

I have been depressed for about two years, I felt numb for a long time (months and months) and then I was very anxious for a while. I think the counselling is helping but I cry a bit every day for no real reason, it's like having bad PMT maybe I will see refugees on the news and cry or think about my DS growing up and cry it's mad! I just want something to stop my moods swinging all over the place.

cremeeggboycotter Fri 18-Sep-15 23:04:22

You shouldn't take herbal medicines when pregnant either. It may be more natural but that doesn't mean recommended especially as St John's Wort sold as supplements is not regulated and could be anything.

It is used on prescription in some countries but it is a bespoke medicine, tailored to patients. Taking a supplement of unknown concentration that's not the concentration you need won't help- unless you have potluck. If you want to take it I would talk to your GP about taking it, especially if ttc.

One thing to bear in mid with SJW is if you do find a good dosage, don't come off it because it's 'worked'. The down side is more.just as horrific as with A/D.

I don't know much about 5HTP, but a lot of supplements aren't worth shit. They could be made by a great manufacturer or the equivalent of a back garden knock up- there's no regulation in place to protect you.

Talk to your GP, if he's herbal adverse then ask to be referred to one who will listen even if they don't agree.

Salene Fri 18-Sep-15 23:06:51

St. John's wort got my 22 year old nephew from lying in a bed day in day out feeling suicidal to being totally happy, getting a job and buying his own flat. It basically saved his life.

DownAndConfused Fri 18-Sep-15 23:10:37

Wow Salene that's great do you know how much he took every day?

StarOnTheTree Fri 18-Sep-15 23:14:33

I take 5HTP for fibromyalgia and I can't manage without it. It just takes the edge of the fatigue and pain enough so that I can work and look after the DC and live a semi-normal life. I've stopped taking it twice because I thought it wasn't doing any good but within days I realised that it had been working.

Without 5HTP the fatigue and pain is so bad that I have to drag myself through each day, I cry a lot and I'm generally a non-crier and all I can think about is going to bed sad

I'm not depressed or anxious so I can't vouch for whether it's effective for those conditions but I would think that it's worth trying.

Salene Fri 18-Sep-15 23:19:48

Yes I do as I bought it for him and made him take it as he was living with me at the time as had walked out of university and no one in the family knew how to help him

Doctors gave him anti depressants but they made him feel worse he said.

I bought 1000mg tablets from Amazon and made him take 1 a day and within 3 months the cloud had lifted from his life

yorkshapudding Fri 18-Sep-15 23:22:02

Mental Health Nurse here.

If you are planning to TTC you need to avoid St John's Wort as it is thought that there may be risks associated with taking St John's Wort in pregnancy so the offial guidelines state that it shouldn't be taken in the 3 months before conception or during pregnancy/breastfeeding.

I would consult your GP before taking St John's Wort. It is not licenced as a medication in this country due to safety concerns. This is partly due to concerns around side effects (including anxiety, panic attacks, hypertension and hair loss) and potentially quite severe withdrawal symptoms on stopping. It has also been linked to the development of cataracts. The biggest issue with St John's Wort is that it's such a complex mix of so many active ingredients and there's a massive variation in the way they're harvested and stored and the quantities used. This means that the strength of the tablets is unpredictable and you don't know how much of these various ingrediants you're actually ingesting when you take St John's Wort.

I don't know much about 5htp except that there is insufficient evidence of it's effectiveness for treating depression at the moment and more research is needed. I believe it has also been linked with the development of a specific blood disorder (the name of which escapes me right now) and seizures but I don't know much about the more common side effects. I do know that, like St Johns Wort, it is considered unsafe for women who are TTC, pregnant or breastfeeding.

DownAndConfused Fri 18-Sep-15 23:22:31

Thank you Salene and Star and I am glad it helps you so much Star. And thank you as well Crème sorry I didn't mean to skip past your message yes you are right about the herbal things being bad in pregnancy too.

DownAndConfused Fri 18-Sep-15 23:25:27

Thank you York I think the blood disorder was from a contaminated batch years ago people died taking that sad The 5HTP seems to maybe work faster than the St John's Wort so I might try it first.

LeftMyRidingCropInTheMortuary Fri 18-Sep-15 23:26:42

And St John's Wort interacts with the Pill so beware or you may find yourself pregnant before you're ready!

DownAndConfused Fri 18-Sep-15 23:28:44

I wish there was an AD you could take while you are pregnant you would think there would be one but the GP said they all could cause heart problems for babies.

cremeeggboycotter Fri 18-Sep-15 23:30:01

It's a shame there's no information but ethically they can't do any clinical trials to find out if they are safe during pregnancy.

Talk to your GP. St John's Wort is getting more popular and hopefully will be used and prescribed as a proper medicine one day, like other countries,but sadly not yet.

yorkshapudding Fri 18-Sep-15 23:34:06

"I wish there was an AD you could take while pregnant"

The two supplements you're considering aren't safe for pregnancy either. Have you been advised roughly how long you will have to wait for CBT? If you feel it's too long, is there an IAPT service in your area you could self refer to? They provide short term CBT based interventions and usually see people pretty quickly.

DownAndConfused Fri 18-Sep-15 23:37:21

Yes I know that Yorksha I just thought there might be an AD you can take while you are pregnant. Do women on Ads come off them when they get pregnant?

yorkshapudding Fri 18-Sep-15 23:46:30

Some do, some don't. It has to be a case of weighing up the risks and the benefits. For some women, the consequences of their depression being unmedicated is far greater than the risks from taking the meds. The risks to the unborn child from SSRI antidepressants is thought to be very low. The only AD that is associated with 'heart problems' for baby is Paroxetine so it is usually avoided during pregnancy. Although have been (very) rare cases of serious lung problems in babies associated with a couple of other SSRI's the risk is very low.

DownAndConfused Fri 18-Sep-15 23:48:43

The GP was nice but he was quite old so maybe he was thinking of older drugs. Maybe I should talk to one of the other GPs to see if there is one I could keep taking if I needed it.

yorkshapudding Fri 18-Sep-15 23:52:24

It certainly can't hurt to talk it over with someone else. It's always a good idea to have a chat with a GP before thinking about starting any treatment, even a supplement and they can help you weigh up the pros and con's of the different options.

yorkshapudding Sat 19-Sep-15 00:01:36

Also, have you looked into Mindfulness? It can be really useful, especially an an accompaniment to CBT and once people get the hang of it they generally seem to feel the benefit quite quickly. I was very cyncial about it initially but having looked at all the evidence (which is overwhelmingly positive) and seen it work for so may people I'm now a convert. I recommend the book by Prof Mark Williams and Danny Penman as a good starting point.

yorkshapudding Sat 19-Sep-15 00:02:55

Apologies for crap spelling, rubbish eyesight and new phone with tiny keyboard not a good combo!

Flowerpower41 Sat 19-Sep-15 05:19:52

I tried St John's Wort a few years ago as I preferred a more natural route against depression and anxiety. Although it helped in those areas over time I clocked on to the fact that it was actually giving me sharp pain in my chest so I had to give it up.

The GP told me that was unusual though and she had known lots of people with good reactions to it.

coveredinsnot Sat 19-Sep-15 06:12:38

Lots of people take antidepressants during pregnancy. It's not ideal but is definitely possible. Get a second opinion?

DownAndConfused Sat 19-Sep-15 09:23:15

THank you all I am going to get some 5HTP and try a low dose and if it doesn't help I will go back to a different GP and ask for a different AD. Covered do you know which ADs people take in pregnancy?

YOrksha I have that book and CD but I always mean to do stuff like eating well and listening to the CD but I just can't get the motivation so I get stuck sad So maybe the tablets will give me a push in the right direction.

Branleuse Sat 19-Sep-15 09:29:48

if you feel like you have constant PMT, I would seriously consider taking agnus castus for 2 or 3 months. Its a herbal supplement that balances female hormones, and it was actually lifechanging for me, and was a major factor in me being able to come off antidepressants

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