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February 11, 2005
DHEA For Depression and Stress Reduction
Integrative and "alternative" approaches to improving an individual's well-being are finally receiving the respect they deserve. In a recent report, supported by the NIMH and published the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that the naturally occurring hormone DHEA improves the mood of clinically depressed individuals. In particular, low levels of DHEA in the blood relative to cortisol, correlate to higher levels of depression in individuals in their 20s and those in their 60s.
In another report, "researchers at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have found that the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone-S (DHEA-S),which is known to enhance memory and reduce depression and aggression in mice, appears to have a role in coping with stress. It is secreted by the outer portion of the adrenal gland in response to stress and the highest levels are achieved at ages twenty to twenty-five, dropping continuously as we age. Soldiers, studied during grueling military survival school exercises, were found to have the fewest symptoms of dissociation, which is known to present a higher risk of developing post traumatic stress disorder, were found in the soldiers with the highest ratio of DHEA-S to the stress hormone, cortisol. They also performed better under pressure, in terms of the survival school exercises. This appears to indicate that the DHEA-S acts as a buffer against a negative stress impact but it is not know exactly what determines how much is produced."
Although DHEA is available over-the-counter, Dr. Andrew Weil recommends that you don't take it without medical supervision as over-the-counter brands of DHEA may not be as reliable as prescription forms.
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