What are my options when it comes to over-the-counter antidepressants? I'm losing my health insurance pretty soon and wanted to have this planned out. Will I be able to cover my depression pills out of pocket?
So I wanted to find out about the over-the-counter options that might work for me. I also heard that there are some pretty good non-prescription options worth exploring. But I don't know where to start. Should I maybe try something natural? Thanks.
AnswerIf you're still on your medical insurance and have access to a qualified specialist, we strongly suggest to reach out to them, while you still have the option. They have more data on your treatment history and could offer a better solution, as each case of depression, anxiety, or other conditions is unique in many ways. But if that’s no longer an option, there are some alternatives.
There are prescription programs available at various retailers that you can access without medical insurance. For example, Walgreens has the Prescriptions Savings Club, and Walmart has the $4 prescription program. These options are both affordable and accessible without insurance. CVS might have specific discounts or offers in your area. Inquire about them in your local CVS Health store.
These programs are often cheap for a reason. Many of the drugs on the list are generics. This means that when signing up, you might not find Lexapro, Celexa, Effexor, Paxil, Wellbutrin SR, Zoloft, or Prozac on the list of offered medications. But don't worry, as these programs usually have alternatives that are as good. Again, if you still have access to your doctor through the insurance - now would be a good time to ask about the generics that might work for you.
There are, however, depression medication alternatives that you can get over the counter. They are commonly referred to as 'OTC antidepressants', where 'OTC' stands for 'over-the-counter'. Keep in mind that a prescribed drug will always be the best option. A lot of these medical alternatives aren't approved or don't have a proven medicinal effect. Most of them are harmless and natural, so trying them out shouldn't be that risky of an endeavor. Some of these are naturally occurring in foods, so just changing your diet might be a solution for you. Below are some of the options:
5-HTP - this chemical works by improving the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is popularly considered to be one of the main contributors to the feeling of happiness. 5-HTP is also often used as a supplement for anxiety, insomnia, and migraine treatment.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - this is a group of fats (EPA, DHA, etc.) that is found in many foods, occurring naturally. Walnuts, salmon, canola oil, wild rice, eggs, and many other foods include Omega-3 fatty acids. It is recommended as a dietary supplement and as a natural antidepressant. These fats can also improve the performance of actual antidepressants (prescribed drugs). But, as with previous alternatives, there isn’t any definite and conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Saffron - is a culinary spice that can also be used as a supplement to treat depression. Most of the evidence is inconclusive, but according to an analysis by Human Psychopharmacology, saffron can be as effective as some antidepressant drugs, like fluoxetine.
S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAMe) - is a chemical compound that is found in our bodies. It helps with hormone production and maintains cell integrity. It's often used as a supplement to treat depression. Again, the research proving its antidepressant effectiveness isn't conclusive, but it is accepted as an alternative depression medication.
St. John's Wort - also known as Hypericum perforatum is a plant that's often used as a natural antidepressant. It is, however, not approved in the US by the FDA. Although clinical research of its effectiveness is ongoing and also inconclusive at this point, it is widely used as a dietary supplement to treat depression, as well as other conditions, like ADHD.
DHEA (Prasterone) - DHEA is a steroid hormone that naturally occurs in humans. Its primary role is being a metabolic intermediary during hormone production, but it has other applications within our body. It's been known as an antidepressant for over 50 years and is sold over the counter as Prasterone. Outside of US, Prasterone is banned from being marketed, and some athletic organizations consider it to be a performance-enhancing steroid.
The content of this article does not constitute professional medical advice. The information above is presented for educational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis or a treatment plan. You should seek professional medical assistance and take advice from your doctor.