Lately I've been researching DHEA as a treatment for anxiety and chronically elevated cortisol levels. But what I'm also finding is that it's an effective treatment for many cases of depression that are resistant to conventional treatments. I would guess these cases of depression are caused by chronic excess inflammation, high cortisol, or both and the direct and indirect effects they have on the brain.
Some research I found: "In a study conducted by S. S. C. Yen and associates at the University of California, San Diego, researchers found that 50mg a day of DHEA administered for 6-months restored levels of DHEA in both men and women. This DHEA replacement was associated with an increase in perceived physical and psychological well-being for both men (67%) and women (84%). " "Another study at UCSD was conducted in which researchers considered the association between levels of DHEA and depression. Nine different hormones (including DHEA) were measured in 699 older women. Out of all of these hormones, only low levels of DHEA were linked with depression." "In studies conducted at Cambridge University in England, researchers discovered that children with major depression have abnormally low levels of DHEA accompanied by abnormally high levels of cortisol. "
I think most people think of DHEA as an anti-aging hormone that we all produce enough of when we're young and may or may not need to take as we age, but if this study is showing that even many kids have very low levels, is DHEA a treatment we should be focusing on for kids and teenagers with depression? The more important question is why are their cortisol levels so high in the first place? Obviously the SAD is to blame for a lot of it and a paleo diet should be the first line of treatment, but what about the kids who live in high stress environments or were born with a messed up HPA axis due to the mother being under stress or malnourished? Should DHEA be used for these kids as a temporary treatment for depression, and if so for how long? Also, do you think the antidepressant effects of DHEA are due to its anti-inflammatory effects (it lowers Il-6, TH2 cell activity, etc), because it counteracts high cortisol, or both?