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Nootropics for Depression: Are They
Better Than Antidepressant Medications?


Are you suffering from depression? Traditional approaches to the issue not helping?

Well, you're in the right place, because you might just find the supplement to help you out. Nootropics are a type of chemical compound that is primarily used for cognitive enhancement.

However, mood stabilization, memory improvement, verbal fluency, and much more is also possible.

In this article, we will cover the best nootropics for depression.

So keep reading to learn more...

The Link Between Neurogenesis And Depression

In a recent discovery, the function of neuronal circuits, connections, and the consequential neurogenesis plays an important role in depression. Even more so than the neurotransmitters.

For instance, in Germany, researches analyzed 24 women who had depression. On average, their hippocampus was 10% smaller than those who were healthy. And the more often they experienced depression, the smaller it was.

Stress can contribute to depression, and research shows that neurogenesis is suppressed by it, which would explain the diminished hippocampus. Not to mention, we know that the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor is critical for the prevention of apoptosis (brain cell death), growth of synapses, and neurogenesis.

This means that increase in BDNF will combat depression. If you've ever been on antidepressants, you will know that it takes weeks to feel their efficacy. It is believed that over time they strengthen the neuron connections, improve neural signaling, and generate neurogenesis.

So speculation exists that medications can be existed to specifically address neurogenesis. But you mustn't wait, because the world of nootropics already has several substances that do just that.

The Link Between Neurotransmitters And Depression

Now that we have gathered that neurotransmitters are not the only culprit for preventing depression, we still can not discontinue their value either.

Neurons come to life in a such way that they can interact with each other. When one is activated, it signals an action function to the axon, which signals to the axon terminal. The neurotransmitters are stored in vesicles inside of this terminal.

The signal causes the releases of neurotransmitters into the synapse, and further to the dendrite of the recipient neuron. As the level of neurotransmitters rises in the synapses, they begin to bind to the receptors of the membranes that unify the two neurons.

This release from one neuron can inhibit or activate another neuron. When the first has released a specific amount, a feedback loop occurs that instructs the neuron to stop, and begin pulling it back to the first neuron. This is referred to as reuptake.

In those who are manic or depressed, the fine-tuned system is out of balance. Either too little or too much of a certain neurotransmitter is released.

Or if the reuptake system is overactive, and collects too many neurotransmitters before they get a chance to bind to the receptors, this can lead to significant changes in mood.

The primary neurotransmitters that play a part in depression are Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, GABA, Glutamate, Acetylcholine.

Each of which can be boosted, or the reuptake of which can be affected via nootropic supplements.

The Link Between Stress And Depression

Stress is an imminent occurrence of everyday life. And while not everybody who faces stress develops depression, it still plays an important role in its development.

Depending on how sensitive you are, along with unbalanced neurochemistry and even genetic dispositions, a combination of these factors can lead to depression.

So it's important to address the issues when recognized, and not rely on supplements to help. Stress is a silent killer, and some people are most sensitive to it than others.

You ever spend time with somebody, and see that they are having a terrible time while you're having a great time, even though you are experiencing the same circumstances and reside in the same environment? Well, whether or not stress is implicit or explicit, it is harmful and should be addressed in a variety of ways.

CBT, meditation, psychotherapy can all help with stress-response reactivity.

However, nootropics have lots of use and we're about to get into them.

Nootropics for Depression

As promised, here are the best nootropics for depression. Now you will find that most of them have varied effect profiles, meaning they don't just do one thing, and considering these effects are mostly positive that's great.

However, don't expect everything to work as if intended. Different people, different reactions, different results.


A very popular nootropic of the racetam family used to increase mood, motivation, focus, and reduce anxiety. A lot of users find that aniracetam is effective and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

However, that's not the only racetam that is applicable. For instance, phenylpiracetam is another option you can learn about.

A study done on rats found that aniracetam had great results in anxiety-reduction, due to its serotonergic, dopaminergic, and cholinergic actions. In the same study, anti-depressant effects were noted for aniracetam's ability to influence acetylcholine.


This nootropic also from the racetam family was studied as a treatment for Alzheimer's. While being researched, it has shown to have a sufficient impact on anxiety, and mood.

One study found powerful anti-depressant effects. In fact, it has shown that it was more effective than prescription drugs at improving the depressive condition. The participants had taken several prescriptions to no avail, whereas coluracetam had worked.


Citicoline is safe, effective, and stacks with any other supplement. It has anti-depressant effects and is primarily used as part of The Happy Stack, which consists of DHA/EPA, Uridine Monophosphate, and Choline sources, such as CDP-Choline or Alpha GPC.

The studies show that dual-diagnosis patients with bipolar or unipolar depression who used CDP-choline have noticed a tremendous reduction in depressive symptoms.

As mentioned earlier, acetylcholine is particularly interesting, because if you have too little, you will feel depressed. If you have too much, you will feel depressed, thus it's important to regulate this neurotransmitter. But that's hard to do because there is no way to measure your levels in an available manner.


5-hydroxytryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. This means the body converts it in a single step. Serotonin is known for its role in appetite, sleep, mood, and much more.

Most antidepressants affect serotonin. For instance, Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac are known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, which keep serotonin in the synapses active for a longer time.

5-HTP works by increasing the levels of serotonin. In European countries, it's actually prescribed as an antidepressant. It is the most studied on the list and is proven to reduced depressive symptoms better than placebos.

Keep in mind that 5-HTP, when taken excessively, can lead to serotonin syndrome, which is significantly worse than depression. So before you take any of the substances on this list, do you research and find that what you must.


Green tea is great. One of the things responsible for that is l-theanine. Even though it's minimal in tea, when taken as a supplement, it can have powerful anti-depressant effects.

It's stacked with caffeine often because it's found to eliminate unwanted side-effects of coffee while enhancing the mood-boost and alertness of the experience.

One study found that l-theanine improves relaxation in high-stress conditions. Another study found that reduced anxiety. And another reduced physical symptoms of anxiety and stress, such as heart rate.


Noopept is similar to piracetam, which is part of the racetam family. It's popular with nootropics users because of the safety profile, and the ability to improve mood, enhance focus and reduce anxiety.

It is often taken on its own but it can be stacked with other nootropics. There are various studies that show noopept as a great supplement for anxiolytics and antidepressant effects.

Studies show that noopept has decreased learned helplessness, also known as a common symptom with depression. Another study showed significantly reduced signs of anxiety. A human study shows that noopept decreased markers for anxiety and dress in mild cognitive disorders.

Nootropics for You

Now that you know about nootropics for depression, you are well on your way to determining if they are useful to your circumstance.

You might have noticed that there are many anecdotal reports about nootropics, but that only makes them more alluring. If they worked for someone, you will think they will work for you.

And although we wish that was the case, it's not. Every person is different, thus every nootropic will affect a person differently. Consult with a health professional before you try nootropics to determine that there are no contraindications with your pre-existing conditions and medications, if applicable.

If you're interested in learning more about supplements, go through our health categorical pages at the top of the site.

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