Life can be stressful, especially since the pandemic turned the world upside down. You’ve been dealing with challenges that have ranged from outfitting your home office to homeschooling your kids. It’s enough to turn your mood sour. Many people these days are turning to natural supplements to improve their mood. But before you do, consider these questions first.
1. How’s Your Mental Health?
Obviously, if you’re thinking about taking a mood-boosting supplement, you’re concerned about your mental wellbeing. However, there’s a difference between having a slight dip in your mood and having a severe mental disorder. If you have a mental problem like bipolar disorder, major depression, or panic disorder, you may need to be more careful about how you deal with mood problems. You can read about and take screening tests for a range of mental disorders to get a sense of whether you need to be concerned.
2. What is in the Supplement?
The ingredients of mood-elevating supplements are often questionable. First, it’s important to know that the FDA does not regulate supplements. So, it’s often hard to know exactly what’s in them. One way to be surer that the contents are as described is to look for a supplement that bears the USP or ConsumerLab label. Buy from a reputable company, preferably one manufacturing in the U.S., and use standardized products whenever possible.
3. Is the Supplement Proven to Help?
There are many supplements promoted as natural methods to lift your mood. However, not all are proven to help. Although more researchers are testing natural supplements these days, the truth is that there have still been very few studies. So, stick to supplements that at least have some evidence of helping, such as Mucuna Pruriens, curcumin, probiotics, or Vitamin D.
4. Does the Supplement Have Side Effects?
Since the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements as it does prescription drugs, you might not find a complete list of side effects in the package. That means you’re going to have to do some research on your own. Many people have the idea that if a supplement is billed as “natural,” it is completely safe for anyone. However, this isn’t always true. Some supplements have serious side effects, especially when you take more than a standard dose.
5. Have You Discussed It with Your Doctor?
Even if a supplement doesn’t cause any problems for someone you know, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe for you. To be sure, you need to talk it over with your doctors – all of them. Your primary care doctor is the first person you should have this discussion with before you take a supplement. They can determine whether the new supplement will likely cause a problem with any medical condition you have or any prescription you take. If you see other specialists, you need to talk to them as well. It’s especially important to bring up supplements if you’re seeing a psychiatrist, because the supplement might interact with any psychiatric medications you take.
6. Is There a Better Way to Improve Your Mood?
Supplements can certainly be a positive part of an overall plan to boost your mood in some cases. However, even if they work safely for you, you also need to take other steps to avoid depression and burnout. Healthy habits like exercise, healthy eating, adequate rest, and getting plenty of sunshine can make a huge difference on their own. Then, if you need more help, talking to a mental health counselor is a good next step.
Supplements can be beneficial for some people in some cases. Yet, before you put something like that into your body, it makes sense to consider your decision thoughtfully. A careful assessment of any supplement you plan to take can make the difference between feeling better and causing problems for yourself.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with Mind-Diagnostics.org. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.