5-HTP for depression

7 Best Nootropics For Depression

Written by Erik Levi, FNTP — Updated on June 9, 2021

OVERVIEW:

  • 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

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

Blood Sugar BreakthroughStabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levelsLearn More
Mind Lab Pro#1 Nootropic For Beginners
Learn More

Cordyceps MushroomLearn More
Reishi
A staple in Eastern medicineLearn More
NACVersatile and effective all-round cognitive supplementLearn More
NALTEffective, natural way to support dopamineLearn More

CiticolineSupercharged source of choline for your brainLearn More

L-theanineThe all-natural "chill pill"Learn More

TaurineNot just for energy drinksLearn More

DLPANon-stimulating nootropic for ADHD and moodLearn More

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.

Nootropics for Depression
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


1. Blood Sugar Breakthrough

Blood Sugar Breakthrough

Stabilizes and promotes healthy blood sugar levels

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.1Kimberly 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. 20162Jie 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.3Anna 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.


2. Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro Best Nootropic

#1 Nootropic For Beginners

  • 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.
  • The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients. 
  • I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.

3. Cordyceps

Cordyceps has been advocated as a traditional therapeutic approach for depression management since ancient times.4Jianyou 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.5Jian-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.6Huai-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.


4. Reishi

A staple in Eastern medicine

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. 7Katarzyna 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.8Jayanthi.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.9Aslam 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.


5. NAC

NAC for Depression

Versatile and effective all-round cognitive supplement

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.10Toyoda A Iio W. Antidepressant-like effect of chronic taurine administration and its hippocampal signal transduction in rats, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013 11Gao-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


6. NALT

NALT for Depression

Effective, natural way to support dopamine

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.12Mouret 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


7. Citicoline

Citicoline for Depression

Supercharged source of choline for your brain

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.13Roohi-Azizi M, et al. Citicoline Combination Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, Clin Neuropharmacol. 2017 14Brown 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


8. L-theanine

L-Theanine for Depression

The all-natural "chill pill"

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.”15Hidese 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


9. Taurine

Taurine for Depression

Not just for energy drinks

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.16Toyoda A Iio W. Antidepressant-like effect of chronic taurine administration and its hippocampal signal transduction in rats, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013 17Gao-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


10. DLPA

DLPA for Depression

Non-stimulating nootropic for ADHD and mood

DLPA is a combination of d- and l-phenylalanine, two isomers of the same compound.

Phenylalanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that your body needs to make essential proteins and regulate mood. It is a precursor to dopamine.

There is some preliminary evidence that supplementing with DLPA can help with depression.18Beckmann H, Strauss MA, Ludolph E. Dl-phenylalanine in depressed patients: an open study, J Neural Transm. 1977

Learn More About the Nootropic DLPA for depression and other symptoms.


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.

About the author:

Erik Levi, FNTP

Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.

As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.

Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.

Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.

You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.

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