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?
Chris is right. DHEA is great for people with depression. Twist 25 DHEA cream is recommended for people 35 and up. You are alot better off using DHEA cream for depression rather than the expensive and dangerous anti-depressant drugs so many people are on.
The trouble with DHEA is you can't control what it gets used for. For example, if you have high chronic stress, it will be converted to cortisol. So in this case, it may be worth it to fix adrenal, or rather, stress stimulus first with things like meditation, phosphotydil-serine, holy basil, etc.
It can also be converted to estrogen or testosterone, which is great if it converts to the one you want, and terrible if it goes the other way.
One trick I've noticed is that by taking both ZMA and Tribulus, you can force (at least) some to get converted to testosterone. So, you need some stimulus along with it to help drive it for your specific needs.
There is also the 7-Keto DHEA version, which can prevent it from converting over to estrogen/testosterone. You could use this with regular DHEA or by itself, if you were targeting increasing other hormones than these, or for its thermogenic effect.
Another thing to realize is that all of these hormones, including Vitamin D, are end products of cholesterol, so consuming lots of good quality saturated fats can help wake up your own systems to produce DHEA. (The usual suspects, grassfed butter, coconut oil, red palm oil, lard, extra virgin olive oil, etc.)
You'd probably want to both supplement with DHEA/7Keto, and consume good fats, and lower your stress levels, and take something to stimulate conversion to the hormones you need. (i.e. sunshine if you need D3, tribulus if you need testosterone, etc.)