All of us feel down at times which is very normal. However a depressive state lasting more than two weeks may require certain degree of intervention.
Depression is not an imagined or willed disorder neither it is a personality weakens. It is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in brain just as diabetes can be due to Insulin imbalance in pancreas
Currently SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) such as Prozac are being prescribed as treatment for depression. These drugs increase the serotonin level in the brain, which may be low in depressive mood states.
A natural alternative to SSRIs that may also increase the brain’s serotonin level is the 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan). 5-HTP readily passes into the brain where it is converted into serotonin and generally is better tolerated than SSRI
Since the early 1970s, at least 15 studies involving 511 subjects have evaluated the clinical effects of 5-HTP on depression. The overall result of these studies showed a significant improvement in 56% of the subjects. The effectiveness of 5-HTP as an antidepressant may be enhanced when combined with L-tyrosine.
It is not advisable to discontinue a drug treatment regime without first consulting with your medical provider. However, if you suspect that you suffer from depression and need a natural replacement then 5-HTP may be the choice you are looking for.
Taken in recommended dosage the 5-HTP appears to be very well tolerated with few and relatively mild side effects, the most common being nausea. It should not be taken concurrently with anti- depressants unless you are under supervision of a physician.
Other contraindications include pregnancy, lactation, significant cardiovascular disease and Carcinoid tumours.
By Dr Amtul Qudoos Farhat
MBBS, DCH (UK), FCPS (Pakistan)
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Fatima Jinnah Medical College, Pakistan