SAM-e for Depression: ACRIA study

A study of 20 individuals living with HIV was conducted by the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA). In the study, they evaluated the use of escalating doses (for some) of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) in the management of depression.

Depression can be a serious complication of HIV disease and has been reported at higher rates than in the general population. They evaluated patients using two scores obtained from the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). The study lasted 8 weeks, however it was not placebo-controlled or randomized, limiting the interpretation. Patients received 200 mg of SAM-e twice per day along with 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12 and 800 mcg of Folic Acid. The dose was increased to 800 mg twice per day in patients not reporting side effects. All but one patient were not using any other antidepressant medication.

Both BDI and HAM scores dropped significantly over the 8 weeks of treatment among the 15 individuals who completed the study. 14 of 15 patients achieved a HAM-D score below 7, indicating that they experienced a remission of the depression. That is, they got better!

While future, better controlled studies are warranted, this is an encouraging study that provides a potentially valuable alternative to antidepressant medications which may have side effects or result in interactions with HIV medications.

The study may be found, free, here:

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/jul08_1/a718?eaf

For additional information on this supplement, see the NYBC entry:

SAM-e

Also mentioned in this study:

Vitamin B-12 (Methylcobalamin)

Folic Acid

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