Best Nootropics for Depression
What is depression?
Depression is often described as a neurotransmitter imbalance in the brain and you will usually find various nootropics suggested helping lift mood and banish depression. Some recent research shows that depression can have many possible causes like mood disorder, genetic problems, stressful events, prescription medications and medical problems.
Actually, though neurotransmitters are involved in the process that contributes to depression, it’s not something like – a matter of one neurotransmitter being too low and another too high. Rather there are several neurotransmitters, amino acids, hormones and other neurochemicals working both inside and outside neurons. And the interactions of those neurochemical reactions frame a highly dynamic system responsible for your mood, perception and experience. Symptoms of depression and the issues in your brain and body may be similar to or completely different from the person next to you. And the nootropics work here effectively.
How do we get depressed?
Depression and Neurogenesis
Truly speaking, neuron connections, neurogenesis and the function of neuronal circuits may play a more important role in depression than levels of neurotransmitters. Stress plays a vital role in depression and can suppress neurogenesis, which would account for the smaller hippocampus in depressed women – a study says.
Again, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a naturally occurring protein, is important for preventing apoptosis (brain cell death), growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) and growth of synapses, while increasing BDNF is one way to fight depression. Here you will see a list of nootropics used for boosting BDNF.
Also antidepressants can generate new neurons (neurogenesis), strengthen neuron connections, and improve neural signaling, which often take weeks to feel any benefit. But better benefits you can have with several natural nootropic supplements.
Depression and Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters are also an important part for preventing depression. Actually, neurons are particularly designed to communicate with each other. As soon as a neuron is activated, it passes an ‘action potential’ down its axon to the axon terminal where neurotransmitters are stored in vesicles. This action potential (signal) releases certain neurotransmitters into the synapse (space between neurons). Since the concentration of neurotransmitters rise in the synapse, they bind to receptors embedded in the membranes of the two neurons. This release of a neurotransmitter from one neuron can activate or inhibit the second neuron. In the reuptake process, when the first neuron has released a certain amount of neurotransmitter, a reaction mechanism guides the neuron to stop putting out this neurotransmitter and starts reinstating it into the first neuron. In the over depressed and manic people, this fine-tuned system of neuro-signaling goes out of whack and as a result, either too much or too little of the neurotransmitter is released. Or when the reuptake is too efficient and mops up too many neurotransmitter molecules prior to their having a chance to bind to receptors, it can have a significant impact on mood.
The most common and important neurotransmitters that play a role in depression include:
Below you will find how each one of these neurotransmitters can be boosted, or their reuptake affected by nootropic supplements.
Depression and Prescription Medication
Time and again it is seen that depression is caused as a side effect of some prescription drugs such as antimicrobials, antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, heart and blood pressure drugs, hormones, insomnia drugs, tranquilizers, antacids, narcotic pain drugs and more. We can just tell you that nootropic supplements can be safer replacement of these prescription drugs. However, though nootropics are safer natural alternatives, consult your doctor first before stopping using any medications.
Recommended Nootropics for Depression
You’ve already understood the importance of nootropic supplements as a safer way to relieve you of your symptoms of depression. Actually, now there are many who look for an alternative to drugs that come with a host of side effects. A survey shows that now many women are turning to using alternative medicine to treat their symptoms of depression.
After much research, we have found that the following list of nootropics work well for different types and causes of depression.
A member of the racetam-family of nootropics, Aniracetam has been used in studies to treat depression and works with dopamine D2 and D3 receptors in your brain, and desensitizes AMPA (glutamate) receptors.
Bacopa is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing that has been used for millennia to relieve anxiety, fatigue, restore energy and boost concentration. It protects your neurons and balances neurotransmitters. Studies show Bacopa to be quite effective for relieving depression as benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is known as your cell’s natural source of energy, which fuels your mitochondria by taking fat and converting it into usable energy. Depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are now being recognized as having mitochondrial dysfunction in common. CoQ10 helps preserve brain function, helps relieve you of mental illness and migraines. Studies show that 1,200 mg per day of CoQ10 in bipolar adults experienced a significant reduction in depression.
5-HTP is known for its effectiveness for reducing depression naturally. It is an amino acid naturally produced in your body. It is the precursor needed to produce the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter serotonin. It is used to reduce depression, but a summary published by the Alternative Medicine Review noted a lack of evidence for ‘loading’ precursors to treat depression.
Ginkgo Biloba has been used in China for thousands of years to boost mental alertness, improve cerebral circulation and for overall brain function. Many have found Ginkgo to be very effective in reducing anxiety, depression and stress and improving mood, energy and happiness.
Research shows that iodine deficient populations are up to 13.5 IQ points less than normal people. Iodine is essential to thyroid health and nearly every tissue in your body relies on thyroid hormones. Inadequate iodine can result in hypothyroidism and negatively affect acetylcholine synthesis in your brain affecting cognition, memory, learning, recall and mood.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane Mushroom boosts brain nerve growth factor which increasea neurogenesis. It can also help improve focus and attention, boost thinking, repair brain cells, and help reduce anxiety and depression. In a clinical trial, researchers found that Lion’s Mane has the ability to reduce anxiety and depression in the women. Parkinson’s and muscular dystrophy can benefit from taking Lion’s Mane.
Lack of sufficient magnesium can result in brain fog, anxiety and depression. The presence of adequate magnesium in brain cells affects the plasticity of neuron synapses. A study shows that low magnesium intake is related to depression.
Mucuna Pruriens (L-DOPA)
Mucuna Pruriens is synthesized from the amino acid tyrosine in your body, and is a precursor to the formation of dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine in your brain. It has been used in Ayurbedic medicine for healing things like snakebite, intestinal problems, sexual issues and melancholy mood. A study shows that supplementing with L-DOPA as Mucuna Pruriens extract can greatly reduce depression naturally.
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC)
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine or NAC is an amino acid which regulates the amount of glutamate and dopamine in your brain and is a precursor to glutathione which reduces free radicals. A study shows that treatment with NAC caused a significant improvement with depression.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT)
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine or NALT is a highly bioavailable form of the amino acid L-Tyrosine. If you have ADHD, or other issues with low dopamine, NALT supplementation can help improve your memory, and relieve depression.
Nefiracetam is one of the newer members of the racetam-family of nootropics and used clinically to treat and prevent seizures, severe depression. It is similar to the other great racetam – Aniracetam and has neuroprotective qualities. A study shows that Nefiracetam produces a significant improvement in the most severely depressed stroke patients.
Noopept, a peptide-derived nootropic related to the racetam-family, is said to be much more potent than Piracetam. However, its mechanism of action in your brain is similar to other racetams. Noopept stimulates dopamine, nicotinic and serotonin receptors and helps boost cognition, memory, logical thinking, reflexes and mood. It is also very much effective in reducing depression  and bringing a joyful mood.
Phenylalanine is an amino acid tyrosine in your brain, and is a precursor to the formation of dopamine, epinephrine, melatonin and norepinephrine in your brain. A study found that Phenylalanine can completely improve mood. A study found that Phenylalanine can improve mood, energy, and lower anxiety.
Rhodiola Rosea activates AMPA receptors in your brain. The activation of these receptors can be generally associated with decreasing depression and stress-related mood swings, reducing fatigue, stimulating energy and alertness, and boosting cognition. A clinical trial found that Rhodiola was slightly less effective than sertraline for depression, but produced far fewer side effects and was better tolerated.
SAM-e is the naturally occurring amino acid methionine bound to an ATP molecule. SAM-e is considered a potent nootropic and helps in the process of cell division and repair, and the generation of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin. SAM-e is used to enhance mood, relieve depression, improve energy levels and reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia. A study shows SAM-e as an effective antidepressant.
St. John’s wort
It is a plant that has traditionally been used for mood disorders and wound healing. According to WebMD it is currently studied and used mostly as a treatment for anxiety, depression and stress.
Sulbutiamine is a synthesized form of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) which easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. As a nootropic, it is taken to improve mood, memory and motivation. A study found that 2 months after supplementing with thiamine, participants were more clearheaded, felt more composed and energetic, reaction times improved, and mood was better.
An essential amino acid, tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin and niacin (Vitamin B3) in your body. Tryptophan stack can help boost your serotonin levels, also help with anxiety, ADHD, depression, insomnia, memory boosting, pain and eating disorders. 
Turmeric is one of the main spices in curries. It is beneficial to Alzheimer’s disease. This spice (and its extract called curcumin) has a unique ability to reduce inflammation common to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and brain tumors. Turmeric is also very effective for reducing major depression.
This precursor to Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) provides instructions to your DNA to help create memory by facilitating connections between brain neurons (synapses). Uridine is a nootropic supplement that uplifts and stabilizes mood, helps Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is anti-stress, anti-anxiety and helps modulate and normalize dopamine release.
Vitamin B6 helps your brain make serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin. The activated form of Vitamin B6 is called P-5-P. P-5-P is particularly effective in boosting serotonin and GABA in your brain. These are two neurochemicals that are directly related to anxiety and depression.
Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the efficient conversion of carbohydrates to glucose –a source of fuel for your cells. It also helps your body convert fatty acids into energy. People with optimal levels of Vitamin B12 in their system have been known to have lower anxiety levels, higher alertness, cognition, energy, vision, mood and sleep better than those who do not.
Depressed No More
Now the conscious people incline to nootropics as they are a strong alternative to many antidepressant medications currently prescribed by doctors. But, be cautious – if you are currently using any prescription antidepressant medications, or other medication for this matter. You have to research each nootropic including side effects and interactions before using nootropics.
If you want to ultimately beat depression, you must figure out the root cause of it. As there are various nootropic supplements, research first until you find out what works for you. We hope you will find out the best for you to conquer your depression.