Nutritional therapy can reduce the burden of depression management in low income countries: A review

Elsevier, IBRO Neuroscience Reports, Volume 11, December 2021
Ekong M.B., Iniodu C.F.

Depression is a serious mental and mood disorder with global health and economic burden. This burden may be overwhelming in low income countries, although there are insufficient data. Most antidepressant formulations are predicated on the monoamine, neuroendocrine and neuro-inflammation hypotheses, with little or no cognizance to other neurochemicals altered in depression. A nutritional strategy with or without conventional antidepressants is recommended, as nutrition plays vital roles in the onset, severity and duration of depression, with poor nutrition contributing to its pathogenesis. This review discusses nutritional potentials of utilizing omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals and herbs or their phytochemicals in the management of depression with the aim of reducing depression burden. Literature search of empirical data in books and journals in data bases including but not limited to PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, Web of Science and Google Scholar that might contain discussions of sampling were sought, their full text obtained, and searched for relevant content to determine eligibility. Omega-3 fatty and amino acids had significant positive anti-depression outcomes, while vitamins and minerals although essential, enhanced omega-3 fatty and amino acids activities. Some herbs either as whole extracts or their phytochemicals/metabolites had significant positive anti-depression efficacy. Nutrition through the application of necessary food classes or herbs as well as their phytochemicals, may go a long way to effectively manage depression. This therefore will provide inexpensive, natural, and non-invasive therapeutic means with reduced adverse effects that can also be applied alongside clinical management. This nutritional strategy should be given more attention in research, assessment and treatment for those with depression and other mental illness in low income countries, especially in Africa.