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Depression is a cognitive state associated with hopelessness and apathy. Clinical depression is a realm for medical doctors to address, but subclinical ennui might be counteracted with some supplements. Consider physical exercise as well, it might help a little.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published:
Last Updated:

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect depression
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-a Fish Oil Notable Very High See all 23 studies
Fish oil supplementation has been noted to be comparable to pharmaceutical drugs (fluoxetine) in majorly depressed persons, but this may be the only cohort that experiences a reduction of depression. There is insufficient evidence to support a reduction of depressive symptoms in persons with minor depression (ie. not diagnosed major depressive disorder)
grade-a Saffron Notable Very High See all 9 studies
30mg saffron daily (both petals and stigma) appear to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms in persons with major depressive disorder, and the potency has been noted to be comparable to reference drugs (fluoxetine and imipramine).
grade-b Curcumin Notable Very High See all 5 studies
Curcumin seems to be somewhat more effective than placebo in reducing symptoms of depression. It may take 2-3 months to see any outcomes. Skepticism is warranted though, as the studies comparing curcumin to placebo were not well designed and produced effect sizes not too far apart, even though the differences were statistically significant.
grade-b Zinc  
grade-b Chromium  
grade-b Folic Acid  
grade-b Inositol  
grade-c Creatine  
grade-c Red Clover Extract  
grade-c Rhodiola Rosea  
grade-c S-Adenosyl Methionine  
grade-c Ashwagandha  
grade-c Bacopa monnieri  
grade-c Centella asiatica  
grade-c Ganoderma lucidum  
grade-c Kava  
grade-c Maca  
grade-c Panax ginseng  
grade-c Vitex agnus castus  
grade-c Yamabushitake  
grade-c Dehydroepiandrosterone  
grade-c Ginkgo biloba  
grade-c L-Tyrosine  
grade-c Marijuana  
grade-c N-Acetylcysteine  
grade-c Nefiracetam  
grade-c Nicotine  
grade-c Vitamin C  
grade-d Agmatine  
grade-d Holy Basil  
grade-d Lavender  
grade-d Magnesium  
grade-d Phenylpiracetam  
grade-d Royal Jelly  
grade-d Uridine  
grade-d Vitamin B12  
grade-d Vitamin D  

All comparative evidence is now gathered in our ​A-to-Z Supplement Reference.

The evidence for each separate supplement is still freely available ​here.