5-HTP for depression

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

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.

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.

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Best Nootropics For Depression


1. Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro Best Nootropic

The Nootropic Multivitamin

  • 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.

2. Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind For Depression

Most advanced fully-loaded formula

  • Qualia Mind is very effective at fighting depression.
  • This advanced formula provides several potent, mood-boosting ingredients that boost dopamine, which leads to better mood and motivation, including:
  • DL-Phenylalanine
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, 
  • and Mucuna Pruriens 
  • There are adaptogens that lower stress hormone response and optimize your HPA axis function, which improves mood. These include:
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • You also get B-vitamins, vitamins C, and D3 co-factors to optimize neurotransmitter synthesis.
  • Caffeinated and non-caffeinated versions are available

  • 3. 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.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.


    4. 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.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.

    Learn More About Taurine


    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.4Toyoda A Iio W. Antidepressant-like effect of chronic taurine administration and its hippocampal signal transduction in rats, Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013 5Gao-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. 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.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

    Learn More About Citicoline


    7. 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.”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.

    Learn More About L-theanine


    8. 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.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


    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

    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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