9 Best Nootropics For Depression

5-HTP for depression
Key Takeaways:
  • Some nootropic supplements could complement traditional therapy for depression

  • Some nootropics work by lowering inflammation and clearing cellular damage in the brain, which could raise moods

  • Other nootropics work on the acetylcholine system, and may directly complement traditional anti depressants

  • There are also nootropics that can potentially increase the amounts of dopamine or serotonin (feel-good chemicals) in the brain

  • Nootropics are sold over-the-counter, but should not be seen as a replacement for the advice of a licensed physician


9 Best Nootropics For Depression

Depression is an incredibly common condition that affects almost everyone at some point.

Although there is no substitute for professional help, there are some holistic remedies that may ease the burden of this debilitating mental illness.

What Are The Best Nootropics for Depression – Quick Answers

Mind Lab Pro #1
Mind Lab Pro
Science-backed nutrition for your brain
Cordyceps Mushroom #2
Cordyceps Mushroom
The Mushroom for Energy
Reishi #3
Reishi
A staple of Eastern medicine
Blood Sugar Breakthrough #4
Blood Sugar Breakthrough
Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels
NALT (L-Tyrosine) #5
NALT (L-Tyrosine)
The natural way to boost serotonin
Citicoline #6
Citicoline
Get more done in your day
L-Theanine #7
L-Theanine
The all-natural "chill pill"
Taurine #8
Taurine
The miracle ingredient in energy drinks

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Supplementing with Nootropics for Depression

Some nootropic supplements can raise your mood and potentially lift you out of the darkness, at least somewhat.

Nootropics are generally considered mental performance enhancers, but you should keep in mind that feeling and emotion are also parts of healthy cognition.

Depression is considered the “common cold” of psychiatric illnesses, but if left untreated, can lead to much worse outcomes.

Certain nootropics can also potentially help you in this way.

However, when treating a mental condition like this, you should also remember that factors like exercise, nutrition, and sleep play a huge role. Therapy and traditional pharmaceuticals are also valuable tools that you should not ignore.

When to Seek Help for Depression

If depression is a persistent problem, you should get professional help. Although it may be tempting to try and “cure” depression with over-the-counter nootropics, you should remember that these are supplements, not substitutes.

A holistic approach is always going to be the most effective.

That said, these are some of the best nootropics to treat symptoms of depression.

Read More: Why You Should Never Buy Nootropics From Amazon

Best Nootropics For Depression

Bust through your depression

Mind Lab Pro

  • Mind Lab Pro is a powerful nootropic multivitamin that contains nootropics, amino acids, vitamins, and adaptogenic herbs.

  • Designed specifically to boost focus, memory, mood, while lowering stress and anxiety.

  • Increased mental energy, clear thinking, and working brain cells

Mind Lab Pro is a preformulated Nootropic “stack” with mood-boosting properties.

This product includes 11 high-potency nootropic ingredients that work synergistically to optimize the full potential of your brain.

Anyone dealing with depression will find the N-acetyl-L-tyrosine and CDP-choline incredibly beneficial since both boost dopamine and parasympathetic activity.

The included adaptogens and L-theanine work to lower stress hormones and stabilize mood.

One of the key ingredients in Mind Lab Pro is citicoline, which is a compound that helps to produce acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in memory and learning. Citicoline has been shown to improve attention span and working memory in healthy adults.

Another ingredient in Mind Lab Pro is bacopa monnieri, which is an herb that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to improve memory and cognitive function. Bacopa monnieri contains compounds that increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which has been shown to be effective in treating depression.

Mind Lab Pro also contains Lion’s Mane Mushroom, which is a type of fungi that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Lion’s Mane Mushroom contains compounds that help to repair nerve damage and improve cognitive function.

The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients.

Mind Lab Pro is backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.

Pros

  • Proven to boost overall cognitive performance including memory, focus, mood, creativity, motivation, and overall well-being.
  • Potent blend of all-natural nootropics, herbs, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Good for Experienced Biohackers and those new to nootropics.
  • Caffeine Free
  • No artificial fillers or toxic preservatives
  • Affordable Price

Cons

  • Ingredients are lower dosed.
  • Fewer ingredients than other leading nootropic stacks

The Mushroom for Energy

Cordyceps Mushroom

  • Improve your stamina and energy levels

  • Helps improve your respiratory function and blood circulation

  • Potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects

  • Helps ncrease the oxygen intake (VO2 max)

Cordyceps has been advocated as a traditional therapeutic approach for depression management since ancient times.1Jianyou Guo, ChangYu Li, Jie Wang, Yongmei Liu, and Jiahui Zhang, Vanadium-Enriched Cordyceps sinensis, a Contemporary Treatment Approach to Both Diabetes and Depression in Rats, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011

Many studies have found Cordyceps able to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.2Jian-You Guo , Chun-Chao Han, Yong-Mei Liu, A Contemporary Treatment Approach to Both Diabetes and Depression by Cordyceps sinensis, Rich in Vanadium, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2010

Adding this mushroom to your diet will help you build up your immune system and manage neurological disorders including, PTSD, depression, stress, and anxiety.3Huai-Syuan Huang, Hsin-Yu Wu, Wan-Ting Chang, Yu-En Lin, Yun-Ju Huang, Kuan-Hung Lu, Yun-Sheng Lu, Mei-Hsing Chen, Lee-Yan Sheen, The Antidepressive and Anxiolytic Effects of Formula Consisted of Poria cocos and Cordyceps militaris Waster Medium Extract in Unpredictable Chronic Mild Stress Animal Model, Current Developments in Nutrition. 2020

It is a perfect natural remedy as it can be used by anyone with any co-morbidity and without any age restriction.

Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Cordyceps.

Pros

  • Available in capsules and powder form
  • Can protect against health problems like asthma, depression, diabetes, fatigue, high cholesterol, and upper respiratory tract infections.
  • Has been shown to improve athletic performance and reduce fatigue.
  • All-natural

Cons

  • Quality cordyceps can be quite expensive and hard to find

A staple of Eastern medicine

Reishi

  • Promotes long-term focus and mental energy

  • Stimulate neurogenesis

  • Boosts immune system

  • Calm effects on central nervous system

Reishi mushroom contains calming and soothing properties which act on the central nervous system.

It’s been observed that this mushroom contains a vast variety of proteins that facilitates precursors of neurotransmitters and endorphins to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. 4Katarzyna Socala , Dorota Nieoczym , Krzysztof Grzywnowicz, Dawid Stefaniuk, Piotr Wlaz, Evaluation of Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant-, and Anxiolytic-like Effects of an Aqueous Extract from Cultured Mycelia of the Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (Higher Basidiomycetes) in Mice, Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015

The aqueous extract of reishi mushroom has been found to enhance cognitive functioning and manage signs of depression.5Jayanthi.K, Reishi Mushroom – Promising in treatment of Depression, Pondicherry Journal of Nursing. 2016

Regular intake of this reishi aids in building new nerve cells, developing better connections within your nervous system, supporting your immune system and managing other neurological disorders like stress, and anxiety.6Aslam Muhammad , Nasir Ali, Antidepressant-Like Activity of Ethanol Extract of Ganoderma lucidum.(Reishi) in Mice, International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences. 2017

Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Reishi.

Pros

  • May help improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels
  • Can be consumed in many different forms, such as capsules, powders, teas, and tinctures
  • Used in Asia for centuries as a medicinal mushroom

Cons

  • Common side effects include gastrointestinal upset and nausea
  • Not recommended for people with autoimmune disease or taking immunosuppressive medication

Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels

Blood Sugar Breakthrough

  • Promotes blood sugar balance in your body

  • Boosts mood and reduces stress

  • Helps fight anxiety and depression

  • Promotes healthy circulation

Many studies are now finding the direct connection between blood sugar management and depression.

In fact, several ingredients in Blood Sugar Breakthrough, dihydroberberineand chromium specifically, have been shown to successfully treat mood disorders.7Kimberly A. Brownley, PhD, Charlotte A. Boettiger, PhD, Laura Young, MD, and William T. Cefalu, MD, Dietary Chromium Supplementation for Targeted Treatment of Diabetes Patients with Comorbid Depression and Binge Eating, Med Hypotheses. 20168Jie Fan, Kun Zhang, Yang Jin, Bingjini Li, Shuohui Gao, Jiaming Zhu,corresponding and Ranji Cui, Pharmacological effects of berberine on mood disorders, J Cell Mol Med. 2019

Research suggests that dihydroberberineand chromium may have modulatory effects on the neurotransmitters in the central nervous system which may play a role in the alleviation of depressive symptoms.9Anna Och, Rafał Podgórski, and Renata Nowak, Biological Activity of Berberine—A Summary Update, Toxins (Basel). 2020

These ingredients, along with other metabolism-boosting compounds like bitter melon, cinnamon, and alpha-lipoic acid, make Blood Sugar Breakthrough a potent formula for the improvement of depressive symptoms and mood disorders.

Pros

  • Contains natural ingredients that have been clinically proven to help lower blood sugar levels
  • Has been shown to help people lose weight
  • comes with a money-back guarantee, so you can feel confident that you’re not wasting your money if it doesn’t work for you

Cons

  • Can be a bit pricey

The natural way to boost serotonin

NALT (L-Tyrosine)

  • NALT is a precursor to important neurotransmitters

  • Helps boost serotonin levels, which can improve mood and sleep

  • May help with anxiety and depression

  • Can be used as an alternative to ADHD drugs

L-tyrosine is an amino acid.

It’s a building block for dopamine, which your body needs to regulate mood. Low dopamine is heavily associated with depression.

So, boosting l-tyrosine levels could have an anti-depressive effect.

You can purchase l-tyrosine straight or as NALT, a derivative of l-tyrosine.

We prefer NALT, as it does the same thing, but is more potent and bioavailable.

This nootropic may not work for all types of depression, but it could alleviate symptoms of dopamine-deficient variants.

The main characteristic of dopamine-deficient depression is lethargy and low motivation.

There is preliminary evidence it could work for this type.10Mouret J, Lemoine P, Minuit MP, Robelin N. L-tyrosine cures, immediate and long term, dopamine-dependent depressions. Clinical and polygraphic studies, C R Acad Sci III. 1988

Pros

  • Non-addictive and has few side effects
  • Does not interact with other medications, so it can be taken safely by people who are taking other medications for other conditions
  • Relatively inexpensive and is covered by many insurance plans

Cons

  • Can cause withdrawal symptoms in people who stop taking it suddenly
  • Can also cause liver damage, so people with liver problems should not take nalt

Get more done in your day

Citicoline

  • Helps with depression and anxiety

  • Increases mental health by balancing brain chemicals

  • Works in combination with antidepressants to increase quality of life

  • A potent source of choline for mental function

Citicoline is a potent source of choline, which is crucial to proper mental function. It is a precursor to acetylcholine (ACh), which is the most abundant neurotransmitter in your body.

Keeping your choline levels up can help with depression.

Although it is unlikely to be the only solution, multiple studies suggest that it could work in combination with other treatments, such as SSRIs.11Roohi-Azizi M, et al. Citicoline Combination Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, Clin Neuropharmacol. 2017 12Brown ES, Gabrielson B. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of citicoline for bipolar and unipolar depression and methamphetamine dependence, J Affect Disord. 2012

Learn More About Citicoline

Pros

  • Great choice for students or anyone looking to boost their cognitive performance
  • Improves focus, attention, and impulse control in people with ADHD
  • Generally well tolerated and side effects are rare.
  • All-natural supplement
  • Easily found online or in health food stores

Cons

  • May cause stomach upset, headache, dizziness, and insomnia

The all-natural “chill pill”

L-Theanine

  • Helps ease you out of a depressive state

  • Can help naturally increase dopamine

  • Promotes relaxation and less anxiety

  • Shows multiple beneficial effects on depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and cognitive impairments

L-theanine is a compound in tea leaves that is famous for its relaxing qualities.

It can also naturally increase dopamine, which can help ease you out of a depressive state.

One study saw “multiple beneficial effects on depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and cognitive impairments in patients with Major Depressive Disorder.”13Hidese S, et al. Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study, Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2017

L-theanine is also one of the best anti-anxiety nootropics out there, which often occurs alongside depression.

All-in-all, l-theanine is a good, side-effect free bet for raising your mood holistically.

Learn More About L-theanine


The miracle ingredient in energy drinks

Taurine

  • Taurine helps with stress-induced depression

  • Taurine aids in longevity

  • Taurine is found in energy drinks but also available on its own

Taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks, but it also has clinically-backed antidepressant properties.

Taurine is an essential amino acid that is associated with longevity.

It may be especially useful for stress-induced depression.14Toyoda A Iio W. Antidepressant-like effect of chronic taurine administration and its hippocampal signal transduction in rats, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013 15Gao-Feng Wu, et al. Antidepressant effect of taurine in chronic unpredictable mild stress-induced depressive rats, Sci Rep. 2017

However, you don’t need to drink energy drinks to enjoy its benefits. It is available on its own as a supplement.

Learn More About Taurine

Pros

  • Proven to boost energy, endurance, and focus
  • Promotes healthy metabolism
  • Helps protect the eyes against retinal degeneration
  • Safe and effective nootropic supplement with a wide range of potential benefits

Cons

  • Large doses may cause gastrointestinal distress
  • Cause some side effects such as headaches, insomnia, and anxiety.

Wrapping Up

These are just some of the best and most effective nootropics for treating depression. We’d like to know what you’re using, so please let us know in the comments below.

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Author

Erik Abramowitz is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Naturopathic Doctoral student, health coach, and father. He is the primary content creator for HolisticNootropics.com and the host of the Holistic Nootropics Podcast.

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