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Antidepressants are drugs that help provide relief from signs of anxieties and depression. Most widely administered meds belong to genres called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (in short, SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (referred as SSRIs). Most forms of antidepressants are prescribed by a qualified medical specialist. But, are there over the counter antidepressants? It helps to know more.

Antidepressants help to optimise the presence of neuro-transmitting chemicals in your brain. Healthcare professionals believe these meds can alter your mental wellbeing by regulating your moods. Antidepressants are used for spells of panic, anxieties, restlessness, depression, etc.

These drugs are considered effective in treating several mental conditions. But you also need to know that not two individuals respond in the same manner to antidepressants. Studies done on their efficacy indicate that ~ 47% of users of SNRIs or SSRIs witnessed some relief from mental problems in ~ 7 weeks.

Over-the-counter antidepressants

Most meds labelled as antidepressants are sold only with a valid prescription. However, a few herbs and supplements can be procured through over the counter (OTC) route. Most OTC offerings are known to have milder antidepressant properties. Owing to their milder nature they are not used for acute spells of depression. Instead, they are administered when the signs are not very severe.

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St. John’s wort

Medical research shows this herb has some antidepressant properties. It is used for obtaining relief from milder signs of mental problems like depression and panic. Reviews reveal it produces effects similar to those of tricyclic antidepressant drugs. However, a few medical research agencies infer St. John’s wort cannot produce outcomes to bring relief from depression consistently.

This herb may cause a few undesired side effects. If you observe adverse outcomes like drowsiness, dehydration, parching of lips, drying of skin, difficulties to pass stools, being in a confused state of mind, a few gastric problems like pain or nausea, seek medical assistance without delay.

Omega-3 fatty acids

These fatty acids perform a critical role in cardiac health and also function as an anti-inflammatory agent. A few research show its ability to boost your mental wellbeing. More research is required to establish conclusive evidence between intake of omega-3 fats and mental health. However, evidences available thus far do suggest possibilities of better mental health with intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

You can also get these essential fatty acids by eating fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, etc. A few seeds and nuts such as walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds are also considered to have omega-3 fats. You can also try flaxseed oil, canola oil or soybean oil to avail these fatty acids.

Intake of omega-3 fatty acids may trigger a few discomforts like thinning of blood, gastric conditions like excessive burping or stomach upset. Reputed agencies suggest intake of 2 servings of fish per week is considered a healthy option. Such servings may help minimise risks of above side effects.


You may also consider 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP which enhance the availability of serotonin in your system. This chemical is essentially an amino acid naturally made by your system. As 5-HTP cannot be sourced from foods, supplements are sold either through online pharmacies or drugstores. A popular source of this chemical is the seeds of a plant called Griffonia simplicifolia.

Studies done on 5-HTP indicate it can enhance the efficacy of other antidepressants. Typical daily dosage ranges between 50 to 350 mg. Also, if you notice undesired effects like softening of muscles, an altered libido, etc., tell your caregiver immediately.

In sum, antidepressants are mostly sold through prescriptions. But some supplements can be bought as OTC drugs. Over the counter antidepressants meds listed above may only have milder capabilities to manage depression. Owing to it, they are taken only when symptoms are not acute. It is always a safe practice to talk to a caregiver prior to using over the counter antidepressants.


Information provided here are only of supplementary nature. Information shared here does not substitute a qualified doctor’s advice. This website is not suggesting intake of this drug is safe or appropriate. Hence it is advised to talk to your doctor before consuming this med or any other drug.

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