Best Nootropics For Anxiety

anxiety
  • Nootropics can be a potent therapy for anxiety.

  • Anxiety can be treated with other holistic methods like diet, exercise, stress reduction, and biohacking.

  • Pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety can be effective but come with many side effects.  Most nootropics are free of such side-effects.

Our society has glamorized “stress” and “busy,” making us think it’s normal.

A certain degree of “stress” and “anxiety” is indeed normal.

Anxiety is a normal response to a range of different situations. It allows us to be alert to threats and motivate us to react. However, it can impact your mental wellbeing when you feel anxious every day and can’t remember the last time you felt relaxed.

The following article breaks down anxiety and the best nootropics that help anxiety.

anxiety

What Are The Best Nootropics for Anxiety - Quick Answers

Mind Lab ProThe Nootropic MultivitaminLearn More
MagnesiumThe most underrated essential mineral for brain healthLearn More
Testo Lab ProTestosterone support to decrease anxietyLearn More
L-TheanineThe all-natural "chill pill"Learn More
TaurineNot just for energy drinksLearn More
L-CarnitineThe Red Meat AminoLearn More
Reishi MushroomA staple in Eastern medicineLearn More
AshwagandhaTraditional herb with potent relaxing effectsLearn More
AniracetamOne of the most popular nootropics for focus and moodLearn More
N-acetylcysteine (NAC)Versatile and effective all-round cognitive supplementLearn More

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety can affect you both mentally and physically and can present itself with a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous, agitated, and angry
  • Feeling powerless
  • Having a sense of unexplained impending danger, panic, or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Struggling to pay attention and focus
  • Sleep disturbances
anxiety

HPA Axis and Stress Response

Physiologically, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis mediates the stress response.1Mary Ann C. Stephens, Ph.D.,Gary Wand, M.D. Stress and the HPA Axis Role of Glucocorticoids in Alcohol Dependence, Alcohol Res. 2012

Anxiety is characterized by a dysregulation of the HPA axis 2Gustavo E. Tafet1 and Charles B. Nemeroff Pharmacological Treatment of Anxiety Disorders: The Role of the HPA Axis, Front. Psychiatry. 2020.

Anxiety disorders are often found as a comorbidity with depression 3Zhiguo WU and Yiru FANG, Comorbidity of depressive and anxiety disorders: challenges in diagnosis and assessment, Shanghai Arch Psychiatry. 2014.

Both anxiety and depression are strictly connected to gut health.

70 % of dopamine and 90% of serotonin are produced in the gut 4Philip Strandwitz, Neurotransmitter modulation by the gut microbiota, Brain Res. 2019.

Dopamine and serotonin are both neurotransmitters and are both considered “happy neuro chemicals.” They are related to mood and happiness.

Dopamine and serotonin also play crucial roles in sleep, digestion, pain response, and other bodily functions.

This means that what is going on in your gut will affect your mood, anxiety, depression, and focus 5Dr. Siri Carpenter, That gut feeling, American Psychological Association. 2012.

Types of Anxiety

There are several different types of anxiety. Let’s look at the five most common ones.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

anxiety worries worry

A long-term condition that causes feelings of anxiety and exaggerated worry. These worries regard a wide range of issues and situations rather than one specific event 6Rowa, Karen Antony, Martin M., Generalized anxiety disorder., American Psychological Association. 2008.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

An anxiety disorder characterized by having repetitive thoughts, behaviors, and urges 7Daniel A Drubach, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2015.

Panic Disorder

An anxiety disorder where unexpected and intense fear is accompanied by severe physical manifestations such as chest pain, sweat, and palpitations 8Peter P Roy-Byrne , Michelle G Craske, Murray B Stein, Panic disorder, Lancet. 2006.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD

An anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a traumatic event 9Heather A Kirkpatrick, Grant M Heller, Post-traumatic stress disorder: theory and treatment update, Int J Psychiatry Med. 2014.

Social Anxiety Disorder

A condition where the subject experiences overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about social situations.10Falk Leichsenring, Frank Leweke, Social Anxiety Disorder, N Engl J Med. 2017

Common Anxiety Prescriptions Medications 

antidepressants

Treatment for anxiety usually consists of psychotherapy and medications. The most common prescription medications for anxiety include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antidepressants

Benzodiazepines

A group of sedatives commonly used to treat anxiety disorder 11Malcolm Lader, Benzodiazepines revisited–will we ever learn?, Addiction. 2011.

They work by enhancing the neurotransmitter GABA activity, a chemical in the brain that helps the feeling of calmness.

They also help with sleep disturbances.

Some common benzo’s include:

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Tranxene

Antidepressants:

Antidepressants are also used to treat anxiety, particularly Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

They work by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

This chemical affects mood, sleep, memory, sexual desire, and appetite 12M Berk, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in mixed anxiety-depression, Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000.

In comparison to benzodiazepines, they have less risk of developing dependence.

Therefore, they are a good option for chronic anxiety.

However, they take up to 4-5 weeks to begin relieving the symptoms, so they cannot be taken at need 13M Berk, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in mixed anxiety-depression, Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000.

antidepressants

Some common SSRI’s include:

  • Cymbalata
  • Effexor
  • Pristiq

Things That Make Anxiety Worse

Holistic Ways to Improve Anxiety

When anxiety becomes a daily struggle, even before turning to medications, there are many things you can do on your own to feel better. For example, you can try one of these holistic, drug-free remedies, from mind-body techniques to calming teas.

Improve your diet

Start with avoiding toxic foods that trigger anxiety. Eat more protein and good quality fats (e.g., red meat, organ meats, choline-rich foods, Omega 3 Rich Foods)

Exercise

Exercise is a powerful anxiety fighter for many reasons.

It leads to changes in the brain that promote feelings of calm and wellbeing 20Brendon Stubbs , Davy Vancampfort , Simon Rosenbaum , Joseph Firth , Theodore Cosco , Nicola Veronese , Giovanni A Salum , Felipe B Schuch , An examination of the anxiolytic effects of exercise for people with anxiety and stress-related disorders: A meta-analysis, Psychiatry Res. 2017.

Good examples of exercise for anxiety include yoga and strength training.

Both release endorphins, chemicals in your brain that energize your mood and make you feel good (20).

Exercise also doubles as a distraction, allowing you to find some peaceful time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety 21Aaron Kandola , Brendon Stubbs, Exercise and Anxiety, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020.

exercise anxiety

Breathing exercises

Examples of breathing exercises include meditation, alternate nostril breathing, and EFT tapping.

Several clinical studies have shown how mindfulness meditation, for example, is a promising therapeutic strategy for anxiety and can significantly improve stress reactivity 22Sy Atezaz Saeed, Karlene Cunningham, Richard M Bloch, Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation, Am Fam Physician. 2019.

yoga breathing exercise for anxiety

Calming Teas

Chamomille is one of the most commonly used calming tea. For example, more than 150 participants in a clinical study reported that long-term use of chamomille reduced generalized anxiety disorder 23Jun J.MaoaSharon X.XiebJohn R.KeefecIreneSoellerdQing S.LidJay D.Amsterdam, Long-term chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial, Phytomedicine. 2016.

Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is an Indian medical plant shown to decrease anxiety symptoms in several clinical and preclinical studies 24D Bhattacharyya , T K Sur, U Jana, P K Debnath, Controlled programmed trial of Ocimum sanctum leaf on generalized anxiety disorders, Nepal Med Coll J. 2008 25Manavi Chatterjee , Pinki Verma, Rakesh Maurya, Gautam Palit, Evaluation of ethanol leaf extract of Ocimum sanctum in experimental models of anxiety and depression, Pharm Biol. 2011.

Hibiscus is another calming tea with significant anxiolytic effects 26Cláudia Vanzella, Paula Bianchetti, Sabrina Sbaraini, Samanta Inês Vanzin, Maria Inês Soares Melecchi, Elina Bastos Caramão, and Ionara Rodrigues Siqueira, Antidepressant-like effects of methanol extract of Hibiscus tiliaceus flowers in mice, BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 .

Hibiscus tea anxiety

Mind Your Gut Health

Now we know that the connection between gut health and mental health is loud and clear. Looking after the microbes living in your gut can be a great way to keep anxiety symptoms at bay. You can do so using probiotics and/or digestive enzymes.

Probiotics – for example, Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have both been found to be good probiotics for anxiety and overall brain health 27Michaël Messaoudi,Nicolas Violle,Jean-François Bisson,Didier Desor,Hervé Javelot &Catherine Rougeot, Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers, Gut Microbes. 2011 28Michaël Messaoudi, Robert Lalonde,Nicolas Violle, Hervé Javelot,Didier Desor,Amine Nejdi,Jean-François Bisson,Catherine Rougeot,Matthieu Pichelin,Murielle Cazaubiel,Jean-Marc CazaubielAssessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects, Cambridge University Press. 2010. You can try MegaSporeBiotic from Microbiome Labs as a complete probiotics supplement.

Digestive Enzymes – life is better when digestion works at its best. For example, a digestive enzyme supplementation, lactase if you are lactose intolerant, improves anxiety 29J Yang , M Fox, Y Cong, H Chu, X Zheng, Y Long, M Fried, N Dai, Lactose intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome patients with diarrhoea: the roles of anxiety, activation of the innate mucosal immune system and visceral sensitivity, Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 .

Biohacks

Apollo Wearable – a novel science-backed up wearable device that encourages parasympathetic activity to help you relax and not feel overwhelmed by stress.

Apollo Neuro Wearable

 

Red Light/Infrared Light Therapy – a simple, all-natural modality that harness photobiomodulation to increase energy level and fight anxiety and depression 30Michael R Hamblin, Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disorders, BBA Clin. 2016.

Red Light Therapy For Mental Health

The Best Nootropics for Anxiety

1. Mind Lab Pro

The Nootropic Multivitamin

Mind Lab Pro is a preformulated nootropic stack that includes a unique formula of 11 research-backed ingredients.

It works as a whole-brain optimizer that supports overall mental performance. Its combination of powerful nootropics supports a calm mindset and stress management.


2. Magnesium

magnesium for anxiety

The most underrated essential mineral for brain health

One systematic review from 2017 found a significant link between high levels of anxiety and low levels of magnesium 31Neil Bernard Boyle, The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review, Nutrients 2017.

Magnesium regulates neurotransmitters in the brain. It primarily affects the hypothalamus, an area of the brain responsible for stress response 32Neil Bernard Boyle , Clare L Lawton, Louise Dye, The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety, Magnes Res. 2016 33Anna E Kirkland , Gabrielle L Sarlo , Kathleen F Holton, The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders, Nutrients. 2018. Magnesium supplementation can, therefore, help ease anxiety symptoms and improve stress management 34Neil Bernard Boyle , Clare L Lawton, Louise Dye, The effects of magnesium supplementation on subjective anxiety, Magnes Res. 2016 35Anna E Kirkland , Gabrielle L Sarlo , Kathleen F Holton, The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders, Nutrients. 2018


3. Testo Lab Pro

Testosterone support to decrease anxiety

In men, anxiety can be a sign of low testosterone 36Erik J Giltay , Dorien Enter, Frans G Zitman, Brenda W J H Penninx, Johannes van Pelt, Phillip Spinhoven, Karin Roelofs, Salivary testosterone: associations with depression, anxiety disorders, and antidepressant use in a large cohort study, J Psychosom Res. 2012.

Testo Lab Pro is a supplement that contains several minerals, vitamins, herbs extract that enhance the production and the levels of circulating testosterone. This can improve mental clarity, cognitive functions and fixes mood issues such as anxiety.


4. L-Theanine

L-Theanine for Social Anxiety

The all-natural "chill pill"

L-Theanine is a non-protein amino acid found in green tea.

Studies show that theanine intake can significantly reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heartbeat and increased secretion of immunoglobulin A in saliva 37Shinsuke Hidese, Shintaro Ogawa, Miho Ota,Ikki Ishida, Zenta Yasukawa, Makoto Ozeki, and Hiroshi Kunugi, Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Nutrients. 2019.


5. Taurine

Taurine for Anxiety

Not just for energy drinks

Taurine is an amino acid that increases the calming neurotransmitter GABA in the brain 38Abdeslem El Idrissi , Latifa Boukarrou, Wally Heany, George Malliaros, Chaichan Sangdee, Lorenz Neuwirth, Effects of taurine on anxiety-like and locomotor behavior of mice, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009 39Gao-Feng Wu, Shuang Ren,# Ri-Yi Tang,Chang Xu, Jia-Qi Zhou, Shu-Mei Lin, Ying Feng, Qun-Hui Yang, Jian-Min Hu and Jian-Cheng Yang, Antidepressant effect of taurine in chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced depressive rats, Sci Rep. 2017. Taurine works great in someone with mood instability accompanied by anxiety, but it is also helpful for anxiety alone.

6. L-Carnitine

Alcar for anxiety

The Red Meat Amino

L-Carnitine is a molecule that provides cells with energy. Recently, L-Carnitine had promising results in a clinical trial evaluating it as a treatment for depression 40Carla Nasca, Benedetta Bigio, Francis S. Lee, Sarah P. Young, Marin M. Kautz, Ashly Albright, James Beasley, David S. Millington, Aleksander A. Mathé, James H. Kocsis, James W. Murrough, Bruce S. McEwen, and Natalie Rasgon, Acetyl-l-carnitine deficiency in patients with major depressive disorder, PNAS August 21, 2018.

Other preclinical studies showed its potential for anxiety as well41Joseph Levine, Zeev Kaplan, Jay W. Pettegrew, Richard J. McClure, Samuel Gershon, Igor Buriakovsky, Hagit Cohen, Effect of intraperitoneal acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) on anxiety-like behaviours in rats, International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 42Lais Pancotto, Ricieri Mocelin, Matheus Marcon, Ana P. Herrmann, and Angelo Piato, Anxiolytic and anti-stress effects of acute administration of acetyl-L-carnitine in zebrafish, PeerJ. 2018


7. Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi Mushrooms For Anxiety

A staple in Eastern medicine

Reishi Mushrooms are a staple of Eastern medicine.

Also known as Ganoderma lucidum, they grow in various humid locations in Asia.

They are famous for their numerous health benefits, such as immunity booster.

Preliminary studies show that Reishi mushrooms might help cancer survivors with anxiety and depression 43Hong Zhao , Qingyuan Zhang, Ling Zhao, Xu Huang, Jincai Wang, Xinmei Kang, Spore Powder of Ganoderma lucidum Improves Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Endocrine Therapy: A Pilot Clinical Trial, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012

This nootropic could provide the building blocks to make up this deficit.


8. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha for anxiety

Traditional herb with potent relaxing effects

Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb used to treat anxiety.

Studies showed that high-concentration Ashwagandha root could improve an individual's resistance to stress.

Overall, consumption of Ashwagandha leads to an enhanced self-assessed quality of life 44K Chandrasekhar , Jyoti Kapoor, Sridhar Anishetty,

A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults
, Indian J Psychol Med. 2012
.


9. Aniracetam

Aniracetam for Anxiety

One of the most popular nootropics for focus and mood

Aniracetam is a nootropic with similar effects to caffeine.

It is a stimulant and mental enhancer that helps with focus and alertness 45PubChem, Aniracetam, PubChem. 2021.

Some studies showed decreased anxiety following Aniracetam in rodents (42). However, Aniracetam is not FDA-approved, and more research in humans is needed to assess its potential for anxiety treatment 46Kazuo Nakamura, Aniracetam: its novel therapeutic potential in cerebral dysfunctional disorders based on recent pharmacological discoveries, CNS Drug Rev. 2002.


10. N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC for Anxiety

Versatile and effective all-round cognitive supplement

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid naturally produced by the body. It is emerging as a useful agent in treating anxiety after studies showed that it reversed animal models' anxiety-like behaviors 47Olivia Dean, BSc, PhD, Frank Giorlando, MBBS, BMedSc, and Michael Berk, MBBCh, MMed(Psych), PhD, N-acetylcysteine in psychiatry: current therapeutic evidence and potential mechanisms of action, J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2011. NAC can significantly reduce negative thoughts in subjects with different anxiety disorders (OCD, GAD, and others) 48Olivia Dean, BSc, PhD, Frank Giorlando, MBBS, BMedSc, and Michael Berk, MBBCh, MMed(Psych), PhD, N-acetylcysteine in psychiatry: current therapeutic evidence and potential mechanisms of action, J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2011.

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Hello, I'm Erik!

I'm a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who helps people reach peak cognitive performance through diet and lifestyle.

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