DHEA eases midlife depression

From Reuters. First published in the February 2005 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. 

A nonprescription hormonal supplement sometimes marketed as a “fountain of youth” drug has been shown to be effective in combating midlife depression. The product — dehydroepiandrosterone — “may have a useful role in the treatment of mild to moderately severe midlife-onset major and minor depression” in some patients, said a report from the National Institute of Mental Health

The findings were based on a small study involving 46 men and women ages 45 to 65 who had major or minor depression of moderate severity. Some were given DHEA and others an inert placebo, and the process was repeated switching the supplement and placebo groups. At the end, the participants were measured with standard tests for depression. In all, 23 showed a reduction of at least 50% in their depression after they received DHEA. In addition, 13 showed improvement after the placebo. The report was published in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.