Side effects seem to be much less common with SAMe than with SSRIs or the others. Of course, someone, somewhere, has a reaction to anything.
It is available many places, for example Costco and Rite-Aid.
Many doctors in North America have never heard of it. It is not actually a drug: it is a naturally occurring substance in the brain.
S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe) as antidepressant: meta-analysis of clinical studies. Bressa GM.
Department of Psychiatry, University Cattolica Sacro Cuore School of Medicine, Rome, Italy. Abstract
S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAMe) is a naturally-occurring substance which is a major source of methyl groups in the brain.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We conducted a meta-analysis of the studies on SAMe to assess the efficacy of this compound in the treatment of depression compared with placebo and standard tricyclic antidepressants.
RESULTS: Our meta-analysis showed a greater response rate with SAMe when compared with placebo, with a global effect size ranging from 17% to 38% depending on the definition of response, and an antidepressant effect comparable with that of standard tricyclic antidepressants.
CONCLUSION: The efficacy of SAMe in treating depressive syndromes and disorders is superior with that of placebo and comparable to that of standard tricyclic antidepressants. Since SAMe is a naturally occurring compound with relatively few side-effects, it is a potentially important treatment for depression.
PMID: 7941964 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
SAM-e also helps with liver function and joint pain associated with inflammation. I wouldn’t qualify it as an antidepressant so much as a mood stabilizer. That may be splitting hairs, but it’s a distinction in my mind. I’ve taken SAM-e before and found it useful for lower back pain as well as for a sense of calm and well-being through some personally difficult times.
It’s worth a try before going the SSRI or other prescription antidepressant route, no side effects have been noted and I didn’t experience any. I did, however, with St. John’s Wort. Bitter, metallic taste in my mouth after a few weeks of taking it, and it didn’t so much stabilize mood as elevate it, sort of hyper actually. I’ve at least partially blamed St. John’s Wort for a bout of panic attacks, sonething I’d never experienced before and not since. Very unpleasant, panic attacks.