SAMe Treatment for Depression


S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine or more commonly SAMe is an important biological agent in the human body and participates in detoxification reactions and in the manufacture of brain chemicals, antioxidants, joint tissue structures, and many other important components. It is normally produced in the liver from the amino acid methionine which is abundant in most diets as well. Because there are no foods that have high SAMe levels, our bodies must make this compound. Folic acid and vitamin B12 are necessary for the synthesis of SAMe, and deficiencies of these vitamins results in low concentrations of SAMe in the central nervous system. SAMe has been found to raise levels of the neuro transmitter dopamine, and patients may have to notice the effects in as soon as a week. Dopamine is an important chemical produced by the brain and responsible for mood.

SAMe used for depression have been positive

In a meta-analysis of the most significant clinical studies, SAMe efficacy was shown to exceed that of placebo and was equal to or slightly better than tricyclic antidepressants providing a rapid onset of action with few side effects. The first serious application of SAMe was for depression, but as cases were evaluated it became evident that the compound was also helpful for anxiety, and other problems such as arthritis. Often an elevation in the neurotransmitters,especially norepinephrine will help alleviate pain in fibromyalgia, arthritis and other pain disorders. SAMe is depleted in liver disease and is a precursor of the critical antioxidant tripeptide glutathione which is a primary protector in cells from free radical damage, and a key molecule in the detoxification process in the liver. SAMe slows the reuptake or breakdown of these neurotransmitters allowing them to work longer (similar to the SNRIs and SSRIs). SAMe also speeds production of the receptors which receive these neurotransmitters. The presence of additional receptors allows the neurotransmitters that are present to work more effectively. Some research suggests that SAMe may also make the existing receptors more responsive (better able to receive messages from neurotransmitters). All of these mechanisms combined seem to increase the levels of the neurotransmitters, which decreases depressive symptoms. Research confirms that both depressed and non-depressed people who supplement with SAMe have overall higher levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. If you use SAMe, you should begin treatment only with the support of a licensed health professional. As with any medicine you should check with your healthcare provider to ensure that SAMe will not affect or have a deleterious reaction or interaction with other medications that you are currently taking. Are you seeking a qualified and experienced Scottsdale psychiatrist? Please contact my office to schedule an appointment.