7 Best Nootropics For Depression
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
Nootropics And 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.
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. 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. 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.
Learn More: What Are Nootropics?
Best Nootropics For Depression
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.1Beckmann 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.
Where To Buy DLPA:
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.2Toyoda A Iio W. Antidepressant-like effect of chronic taurine administration and its hippocampal signal transduction in rats, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013 3Gao-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.
Where To Buy Taurine:
NAC (N-Acetyl L-cysteine) is one of the most versatile nootropics out there.
It is a potent antioxidant with several uses, including fighting depression.
It works primarily by increasing the amount of glutathione, the body’s main antioxidant.
This process can clear out stress-related damage and keep your neurons healthy, stabilizing your mood.
Researchers believe it can also increase dopamine production.4Olivia Dean, et al. N-acetylcysteine in psychiatry: current therapeutic evidence and potential mechanisms of action, J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2011 5Chenghao Yang, Fokko J. Bosker, Jie Li & Robert A. Schoevers. N-acetylcysteine as add-on to antidepressant medication in therapy refractory major depressive disorder patients with increased inflammatory activity: study protocol of a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial, BMC Psychiatry. 2018
Despite its potency, NAC has a minimal side-effect profile and should be in consideration for anyone’s depression stack.
Where To Buy NAC:
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.6Roohi-Azizi M, et al. Citicoline Combination Therapy for Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, Clin Neuropharmacol. 2017 7Brown ES, Gabrielson B. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of citicoline for bipolar and unipolar depression and methamphetamine dependence, J Affect Disord. 2012
Where To Buy Citicoline:
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.”8Hidese 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.
Where To Buy L-Theanine:
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.9Mouret 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
Where To Buy NALT:
Selegiline is a prescription medication in countries around the world.
In the United States, however, a prescription is not necessary.
Otherwise known as Deprenyl, this nootropic can work wonders for some people with depression.
It acts as an MAOI, meaning it inhibits the enzymes that break down neurotransmitters like dopamine, meaning these feel-good chemicals stick around longer in your synapses.
This process can potentially raise your mood and may help you climb out of a depressive state.
Especially when combined with DLPA, another nootropic on this list.10W. Birkmayer, P. Riederer, W. Linauer, J. Knoll. L-deprenyl plus l-phenylalanine in the treatment of depression, Journal of Neural Transmission. 1984
It may even treat some cases of treatment-resistant depression.11Yuji Kitaichi, et al. Selegiline remarkably improved stage 5 treatment-resistant major depressive disorder: a case report, Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2013 12Kelly C Lee, Jack J Chen. Transdermal selegiline for the treatment of major depressive disorder, Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007
Where to Buy Selegiline:
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 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.