According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), supplemental vitamins and minerals have been shown to lessen mental illness symptoms in some people, whether taken instead of or in addition to antidepressants. Some vitamins, like folic acid and vitamin B6, can even improve antidepressants’ effectiveness. Talk to your doctor about the options.

But if you’ve been stuck in major depression for a while, don’t discount the real benefit that gentle, nonaddictive medications can provide. Talk to your doctor, psychiatrist or nurse practitioner about the options (psychologists and licensed therapists cannot prescribe medications). “In my experience, a combination of the nutritional approach with medication often works better than either one alone,” says Rountree. “For example, research shows that folate can enhance the effects of SSRIs [antidepressants].”

If you choose medication, give it time; doses are intentionally low, and effects are gradual. Because of this, many people—more than 50 percent, according to NAMI—decide to stop taking meds before they see any results. Reasons include fears about becoming addicted (even though antidepressants are not addictive or habit-forming), lack of insurance or money to pay for meds, or a temporary improvement that leads people to believe they don’t need meds any longer.

Some people also stop taking antidepressants after experiencing normal, minor side effects, Occhipinti says, especially in the first two weeks. “The side effects in the beginning, like dry mouth and upset stomach, can be unpleasant, but those usually subside. It’s important to stay on most meds for a full four weeks [to start].” If symptoms haven’t improved by then, talk to your prescribing physician about adjusting the dose or switching to a different medication.