Medication Monday: St. John’s Wort

Welcome to the start of another week and another Medication Monday, the weekly series that looks at some of the common medications and common supplements for mental illness, as well as some of the common issues associated with medication. Today, we are talking about St. John’s Wort, an herbal supplement that has been used for treating some mental illness. For example, it is used widely in Europe for the treatment of depression.

However, caution should be used if you are thinking of using St. John’s Wort alongside prescription anti-depressants because it can create a potentially dangerous situation where the body produces too much serotonin, a condition known as serotonin syndrome. Additionally, research suggests St. John’s Wort may decrease the effectiveness of certain prescription medications, including antidepressants.

Yet other studies suggest it may be more effective than a placebo, and equally effective as a prescription anti-depressant. That research is far from settled though.

It is also important to note that even though St. John’s Wort is available over the counter, you shouldn’t try to treat severe depression on you own. Major depressive disorder is a dangerous, potentially deadly disease and deserves proper medical treatment. Similarly, if you are taking St. John’s Wort to help with your clinical depression, you should discuss this with your doctor. And while we are discussing things with our doctor or psychopharmacologist, it is time for my weekly reminder that Medication Monday is not a substitute for medical advice, but rather a brief, informative introduction to some of the mental health medications and supplements currently available. As such, I hope it has been helpful. And thanks as always for reading.

Source: National Institute of Health – St. John’s Wort and Depression

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