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SAM-e May Boost Effects of Antidepressants

SAM-e May Work as an Add-On Therapy in Treating Major Depression

SAM-e Plus SSRI Equals Depression Relief, Remission continued...

In reviewing side effects, the SAM-e group did show a slightly higher mean systolic blood pressure of 3.1 points over the placebo group.

The next step is to confirm these findings in a larger study, Papakostas tells WebMD.

"This study is promising and nicely done, but it's relatively small," says J. Craig Nelson, MD, the Leon J. Epstein Endowed Chair in Geriatric Psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. "It does suggests that SAM-e has effects when added to SSRI antidepressants," says Nelson, who also wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

Now, "we have to do it again to show that it really works in larger numbers of patients and to assess the safety of the compound," he says.

Talk to Your Doctor Before Adding SAM-e to SSRI Regimen

Until then, don't try this at home, Nelson cautions. "Many people take supplements on their own and most don't do much harm, but someone who has serious depression should talk with the person treating them," he says.

SAM-e may induce mania, he says. "If someone has bipolar disorder and is depressed, they should be very careful about using SAM-e," he says.

Oral SAM-e Is a Boon

Although SAM-e occurs naturally in the body, it has been hard to manufacture in an oral form. At first, there were problems producing a form that remained stable until ingestion and then would dissolve in a predictable way. "These problems were solved in the late 1990s, but then studies showed that some products didn't contain what they said they contained," he says. These issues were ultimately resolved, he says.

"Most studies that looked at SAM-e in depression involved intravenous or intramuscular SAM-e," Papakostas says. "The oral form is more convenient because you don't need to sit through intravenous treatment or go to a nurse to get a shot."

The National Institute of Mental Health funded the new study.

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