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  • Kate Aronoff, MA, LPC

Looking for a medication alternative?

It seems like more and more often, I hear from clients that they don’t want to take traditional medications to treat mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Medication often comes with stigma and side effects, that many people are not willing to accept as a trade off for the potential benefits they provide. There are certainly reasons why medications can be indicated, or even necessary. While counseling is usually a great alternative or supplemental treatment option, there is also now another alternative to medication that could work for some.

The Amino Acid Therapy Option

Simply put, amino acid therapy involves taking supplements of the building blocks for neurotransmitters. To break it down, neurotransmitters are the naturally-occurring chemicals in our bodies, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and GABA. These neurotransmitters play a dominant role in our moods and behaviors. We all have different levels of these chemicals, varying throughout the day. Some of us tend to run low or high in these levels based on genetics and environmental factors. Since neurotransmitters are essentially made out of amino acids, it is possible to take supplements that help your body create more of certain neurotransmitters.

The Good Stuff

Some people choose to use amino acid therapy because they feel better about taking a supplement that contains chemicals that are naturally found in the body, rather than a medication that could contain unnatural ingredients. In addition, the stigma of taking a supplement can certainly be less striking than taking a traditional medication. Another upside is that the side effects are usually minimal with this method of treatment.

The Drawback

Unfortunately, amino acid therapy has not been rigorously tested like medications have. The supplements involved in this type of treatment have not been FDA-approved. This means that safety, dosing, and efficacy have not been as established as prescription medications. It can be difficult to find the right dose and combination of supplements for an individual. Also, these supplements are not covered by insurance, and can be rather expensive.

If You’re Interested

More information about amino acid therapy can be found at This therapy should only be used under the care of a doctor or trained naturopath.


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