As autumn leaves us and the cold winter months descend, our days are becoming shorter and colder. Gone are sunny weekends spent at the coast. For many of us, this time of year can leave us feeling low, anxious, or even depressed.
Depression can affect more than just our mood or energy levels. It can disrupt our sleep, affect our diet, rip away our motivation, leave us feeling isolated, and so much more.
Sometimes making lifestyle changes or taking an antidepressant isn’t enough. We may need to wage war on depression by taking a more natural, comprehensive approach.
Nootropics and depression
Why am I so depressed?
The Mayo Clinic defines Depression (Major Depressive Disorder) as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.”
Depression can disrupt our thought process, mood, ability to learn new material, much less retain it, and can leave us feeling exhausted, extremely sad, or in its extreme form, suicidal.
In addition to the seasonal change, any number of factors can contribute to the onset of depression:
- Chronic stress
- Vitamin or mineral deficiency (e.g., Vitamin D, magnesium, etc.)
- Family history or a genetic predisposition
- A major life event, such as a death of a loved one, divorce, terminated employment, giving birth, financial issues, etc.
- Unresolved past trauma
- An underlying medical condition (e.g., thyroid disease, cancer, etc.)
What are nootropics?
Often referred to as “cognitive enhancers” or “smart pills,” nootropics are any natural, synthetic, or controlled substance that can have a positive impact on your cognitive performance.
Most natural nootropics are widely available for purchase over the counter at health and wellness shops around the world.
In fact, you may have already taken a nootropic and didn’t realize it. If you can’t seem to start your day without a cup of coffee or tea, then you are already familiar with two nootropics—caffeine and L-Theanine.
Notice how these nootropics help you feel alert, focused, and even motivated. Research shows that nootropics can even increase several mental functions, such as memory, creativity, attention span, and motivation.
How can nootropics help with depression?
Arms you to fight stress
Let’s face it—many of us may struggle to cope with daily stress.
When our cortisol levels rise, and remain that way, we can end up feeling drained, anxious, or depressed.
Some nootropics are also adaptogens, meaning they can help us fight the physical and psychological effects of stress by helping lower our cortisol levels. Some of the most effective adaptogenic nootropics include: KSM-66 Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Ginseng.
Improves sleep quality
When we sleep, our bodies regenerate cells, repair our muscles, and top-up our energy levels.
However, when depression interrupts our sleep cycle, these processes may stall, often leaving us tired as a result.
Some nootropics like chamomile, magnesium, and melatonin can improve our sleep quality and duration by relaxing us, calming our nerves, and allowing us to drift off into a peaceful slumber.
When some of us are coping with depression, sometimes we can lose interest in activities that once brought us joy.
Unfortunately, there can be personal and professional consequences to not feeling motivated and getting things accomplished.
Nootropics can increase your motivation by influencing our dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by the hypothalamus, and it’s responsible for sending signals from our body to our brain and enables us to feel pleasure, especially after accomplishing a task.
Certain nootropics, like L-Theanine and Rhodiola Rosea, can boost our dopamine levels, which can positively impact our level of motivation.
Lifestyle changes to help fight depression
Depression is complex and often ushers in a battalion of physical, psychological, and neurological symptoms.
Evaluating our habits, environment, and overall lifestyle could help assuage our symptoms, and you may want to consider your:
Diet: Limit your intake of fried, sugary, or processed foods, and instead opt for whole foods as possible, like leafy greens, fruit, eggs, nuts, and lean proteins.
Sleep: Stick to a consistent sleep routine. Our bodies need to recharge every night. If you aren’t getting enough quality sleep, it can leave you feeling drained, exhausted, and moody.
Activity: Engage in exercise whenever possible. If the thought of running a few miles puts you off––be creative! Try an at-home workout on YouTube or take a 30 minute walk in the middle of the day.
Social contact: Limit contact with “toxic” people by establishing boundaries, and choose to spend time with loved ones who help you feel most like yourself.
Achievement: Create a to-do list everyday. Even if you aren’t feeling obligated, usually life goes on, and we still have to get things done. Crossing tasks off a to-do list can help you feel a sense of accomplishment.
Mindset: Practice self-care, self-love, and self compassion. Try to find pockets of time to do the things you love—like going to brunch with your friends or curling up with a new book.
The top mood-boosting nootropics of 2021
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a yellow spice, and part of the ginger family that grows throughout Southeast Asia. Its primary, active ingredient, curcumin, comes from the roots of the plant, and it’s a staple in ancient and modern Ayurvedic medicine.
Its antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties can help treat physical and psychological illnesses such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety, and depression––to name a few.
Can it boost my mood?
Because of the adaptogenic properties in its roots, turmeric can help us cope with stress by lowering our cortisol levels.
What’s more, its anti-inflammatory composition may, according to some studies, balance our mood and ultimately be effective in treating depression.
How to take it:
A standard dosage of a turmeric supplement is 500 mg. You can also buy it as a powder or a spice available in most food shops.
Aside from consuming it in a curry or any number of delicious Southasian recipes, you can also add one to two tablespoons to a mug of warm milk before bed time to help you relax and drift off to sleep.
A purer form of Turmeric, like Hydrocurc has increased bioavailability and a more potent concentration of curcumin, which may yield more effective results.
Our bodies don’t naturally produce these essential fats. Instead, we must consume them either in our diet (e.g., by eating oily fish such as mackerel, herring, anchovies, tuna, etc.) or by taking a dietary supplement.
Not only do they contain anti-inflammatory properties, but Omega-3 fatty acids can also help us maintain good cardiovascular health, lower our triglycerides, and reduce inflammation in our body.
Can it boost my mood?
The two primary types of Omega 3 acids––eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)––may be the most effective in treating depression and other mood-related disorders.
How to take it:
Aside from consuming three to five ounces of oily fish or marine algae daily, you can also take an Omega 3 dietary supplement. The average dose is one gram to two grams daily.
The sun is a natural source of Vitamin D.
But with winter around the corner, we’ll have limited, if any, opportunities to soak up rays.
Vitamin D is essential for building strong bones, and protecting us against developing diabetes, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.
Can it boost my mood?
When we are deficient in Vitamin D, we can experience a host of physical and mental issues, including muscle weakness, moodiness, depression, fatigue, loss of interest in the activities we enjoy, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts, to name a few.
Increasing our intake of Vitamin D––whether from the sunlight, our diet, or with a nootropic––may help us combat our depressive symptoms and stabilize our mood.
How to take it: Aside from absorbing Vitamin D from sunlight, we can also consume it as part of a healthy diet (via milk, spinach, and fortified juices and yoghurts, etc.).
You can also find Vitamin D supplements readily available at most pharmacies and health and wellness shops. A typical dose is 10-20 micrograms daily.
Need a boost lifting your mood?
Psychology is not an exact science, and because of this it may take a combination of lifestyle changes and natural nootropics to lift your mood and ease your depression symptoms.
Earths Secret’s Thrive Complex blends five all-natural nootropics and herbs into a single, vegan-friendly, non-GMO complex: Hydrocurc Turmeric, Organic Spirulina, Organic Reishi Mushroom, Black Elderberry extract, and Organic Ginger root.
This unique, potent formula energises all systems of your body, reducing fatigue and inflammation, and clearing up that brain fog, helping you accomplish your daily goals and thrive whilst you do it.