Hey there! If you’re looking for the best nootropics for depression, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m a practicing functional nutritional therapist and I’ve spent countless hours researching, testing, and comparing different supplements to find the best ones that can help reduce symptoms of depression.
In this article, I’ll be sharing with you my findings and how some of these nootropics have helped my own clients manage their depression.
You’ll also learn about the different types of nootropics available, what they do, and which ones are most effective at treating depression.
So if you’re ready to take control of your mental health, read on!
What Are The Best Nootropics for Depression – Quick Answers
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, it 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.
Best Nootropics For Depression
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Helps boost energy levels so you can stay active even when feeling down or depressed
Alpha GPC increases the production of acetylcholine in the brain which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression
Cat’s Claw is a medicinal herb that can help reduce stress and anxiety levels which are often linked to depression
Anti-depressant effects from Bacopa Monnieri which increases serotonin levels in the brain
Helps restore motivation so you don’t give up easily even when faced with difficult tasks despite feeling unmotivated due to depressive episodes causing apathy towards activities once enjoyed
- Preformulated for easy access to essential nootropics
- Best value for nootropic cognitive enhancement
- All-natural ingredients with no fillers/preservatives
- Includes B-vitamins for enhanced metabolism
- Some ingredients may be underdosed for specific nootropic therapy
Alpha Brain delivers a blend of potent nootropics that promote alpha brain waves and improved cognitive function
The formula includes L-Theanine, phosphatidylserine, L-tyrosine, cats claw, be it in a propriety form
There are no artificial additives, flavors, sweeteners, colors, caffeine, dairy or gluten in the product
Keto and paleo diet friendly
Reduces stress and fatigue
Boosts neurotransmitter cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels, leading to improved focus and concentration
Helps regulate hormones important for learning and memory formation
Contains B6, artichoke extract, forskolin, L-phenylalanine and acetyl-L-carnitine
NeuroFuel is a brain supplement and focus supplement created by Natural Stacks. NeuroFuel contains the patented CILTEP Nootropic Formula that put the company on the map and set the standard for high-quality nootropic stacks long ago, and its this unique formula of natural ingredients sets Neurofuel apart from other supplements:
It contains B6, artichoke extract, forskolin, L-phenylalanine and acetyl-L-carnitine, all of which work together to increase neurotransmitter cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels in the brain which helps to improve focus and concentration, as well as memory formation and recall.
Together these ingredients create an effective nootropic stack that can help you reach peak mental performance.
What we really like about NeuroFuel is the company behind it – Natural Stacks is committed to providing clean and effective supplements backed by science. They have an “open source” transparency program that provides ingredient traceability and 3rd party lab test results for every batch so that you can make informed decisions about their health and wellness.
I have personally used Neurofuel for a few months, and I can attest to its effectiveness in improving my mental clarity and focus. After taking it regularly, I noticed an increase in my ability to concentrate on tasks for more extended periods of time without feeling overwhelmed or fatigued.
The dosage instructions were easy to follow, and the capsules are easy to take on an empty stomach in the morning for maximum effect.
- 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.
- Quality cordyceps can be quite expensive and hard to find
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.
Reishi – Real Mushrooms
- 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
- Common side effects include gastrointestinal upset and nausea
- Not recommended for people with autoimmune disease or taking immunosuppressive medication
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.
Blood Sugar Breakthrough
- 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
- Produced by BiOptimizers, one of the most trusted names in the Supplement Industry
- Can be a bit pricey
- Encapsulation includes magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide (not toxic at low levels, but not 100% clean)
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.
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- May cause stomach upset, headache, dizziness, and insomnia
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
L-Theanine – Nootropics Depot
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.
- 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
- Large doses may cause gastrointestinal distress
- Cause some side effects such as headaches, insomnia, and anxiety.
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.
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.