Inositol is a sugar that is similar to glucose. It is found naturally in the body. It is in many foods such as meat, fruits and whole-grain cereals.
Some people with depression have lower levels of inositol in their brain and spinal fluid. It is suggested that increased inositol may improve mood.
Inositol plays a role in the chemical-messaging system in the brain and may help depression by helping brain cells communicate better.
There are some small studies on inositol and depression. Two reviews of multiple studies have found that inositol was no more effective than taking a dummy pill (placebo) in treating depression.
Overall, there is very little scientific evidence on inositol for the treatment of depression. More studies of better quality are needed.
No side effects have been reported in the studies of inositol and depression, however, these studies may not have looked for negative effects. Dietary supplements, including inositol, may have negative interactions with prescribed medications or other supplements. They should always be taken under the supervision of a health care professional.
Inositol is available as a dietary supplement. It can be purchased at some health food shops or over the internet.
Given the lack of evidence on inositol for depression, it cannot be recommended.
Last reviewed and updated: 1 May 2019