Due to inadequate efficacy of antidepressants, various new chemical entities and agents of natural origin have been tested for therapeutic efficacy both alone and to augment existing antidepressants, producing varied clinical results. This article summarizes the basic properties of curcumin and its mechanisms of action, with specific emphasis on the etiopathogenesis of depression, preclinical and current clinical evidence, and future research directions, to better understand the possible role of curcumin in treating depression. Curcumin may have antidepressant activities with diverse mechanisms of action involving primarily neurotransmitters, transcription pathways, neurogenesis, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and inflammatory and immune pathways, as demonstrated in various animal and human studies. Current published randomized clinical trials suggest a small, non-significant benefit of curcumin for major depression. More adequately-powered and methodologically improved studies are mandatory.
Keywords: antidepressant; curcumin; depression; mechanism of action.