Teenager im GlasSSRIs are “selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors” and SNRIs are “selective norepinepherine reuptake inhibitors”. These are antidepressant medications that work by affecting neurotransmitters. SSRIs and SNRIs slow down the body’s clearing away of the neurotransmitter—enabling it to do its work for a longer time. This has an effect on mood. The first SSRI was fluoxetine (sold under the brand name Prozac), which first became available in the United States in 1987.

SSRIs and SNRIs are mainly indicated for treating clinical depression, but they are often prescribed for anxiety disorders, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders. The use of these drugs has been controversial, with many believing that they are over prescribed. Annual sales of SSRIs in the Untied States total about $7 Billion.

Side effects of these drugs include headache, nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, restlessness, weight gain, insomnia, agitation, rash, and diarrhea. In 2004 studies linked the drugs to teen suicide. The FDA now requires a “black box warning” on package inserts of the drug.

The goal of the drugs is to make more neurotransmitter available, maybe we should try to find safer and more natural ways of achieving that goal. Another way to ensure there is adequate neurotransmitter is to supply the body with necessary nutrients.

If you look at the chemical pathways below, you can see what is needed. For one thing, you need the amino acid tyrosine to produce norepinephrine and you need the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin. So it is important to have adequate protein in the diet. Proper digestion of protein is also necessary. Vegetarians and people who do not produce enough stomach acid possibly may not have adequate tyrosine or tryptophan.


There are three B vitamins that figure prominently into these pathways, B6, niacin and folic acid. Folic acid is found in green, leafy vegetables (the root word is from the word “foliage”). It is a very common deficiency  in the US, and suspect it in people who do not like to eat their vegetables. Also, there will be a tendency to for the MCV to be above 90, just as it is in patients who need vitamin B12 (another deficiency that can produce depression). A good product to give is B 12 2000 Lozenges. The product also has folic acid and, in general, it is a good idea to give these two nutrients together. The product also contains B6, which you will notice also figures prominently in the pathways.

If an individual is eating a lot of refined foods and is depressed, their problem may simply be due to a deficiency of B vitamins. Before taking a drug with side-effects and a black-box warning, it is a good idea to change their diet and give them some supplementation. Even if you give them a good multiple vitamin