Researchers have been testing different supplements for a long period of time that may help in mental health conditions. Their findings have been controversial. Nutritionists and researchers often approve or disapprove different supplements used for the treatment of mental illness.
Supplements have received a lot of attention as potential support for treating mental disorders. However, many researchers have found diet as a key factor in psychological health.
Different studies have either concluded various physical and mental benefits from supplements or no benefit at all.
The largest review of top 33 meta-analyses
To understand the controversies in results, Joseph Firth and his colleagues performed a major review of all evidence till date.
They observed the data obtained from a large number of clinical trials worldwide. The trials included over 10,000 people treated for mental health conditions.
Researchers observed whether the supplements brought about any improvement in conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, ADHD, etc.
Firth and his team reviewed the data of 33 meta-analyses. This included the data collected from 10,951 individuals with different mental health conditions in randomized controlled trials.
The purpose of the review was to identify the supplements which could improve a particular condition. This was meant to find out the doses that could bring about any improvement as well.
The findings of the review are published in the journal World Psychiatry.
Some supplements proved beneficial for mental health conditions
The researchers found that the majority of the nutritional supplements did not significantly improve any mental condition.
However, they found that certain supplements worked to improve particular symptoms of specific conditions. They found this when supplements were given under specific conditions along with other therapies.
The reviewed meta-analysis suggested that omega-3 supplements could improve the symptoms of depression when taken with antidepressants. Certain studies suggested that omega-3 supplements may cause improvements in people with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Similarly, they found that N-acetylcysteine supplements decrease symptoms of mood disorders and schizophrenia when taken with regular therapies.
The researchers also found that folate-based supplements relieved the symptoms of depression and schizophrenia. However, folic acid itself did not show this improvement.
The researchers found no significant evidence that vitamins and mineral supplements can improve any mental health condition.
They also suggested that people can use all supplements according to dosage recommendations. When used within recommended limits, the supplements do not cause any harm to the body. Moreover, they suggested that nutritional supplements do not interfere with the action of psychiatric medications.
Prof. Jerome Sarris advised about upcoming researches. He said that the future researches should be aimed at determining the individuals that get most benefit from supplements. They should reveal the underlying mechanisms of supplement actions.
In this way, we can adopt a targeted approach to using supplements to improve mental health conditions.
Jerome also suggested that researchers should perform more studies on the role of psychobiotics. In mental health development, the role of the gut microbiome is a vast and emerging field for research.