For many people who suffer from depression, their symptoms can strike with the weight of an anvil.
Sadness may turn into despair and hopelessness. Low energy may turn into extreme fatigue. Gone are the days of regular showers, reading for pleasure, or hanging out with friends.
According to the UK Office of National Statistics, 21% of the British adult population experienced a form of depression in early 2021.
Even with so many people suffering from this illness, many aren’t comfortable talking about their experience with it. As a result, it may seem as if we’re the only ones in the world dealing with it. And that isolation may prevent us from knowing where to get the help we need.
Fortunately, there are several avenues available to find relief. From therapy and counselling to support groups or even nootropics, prescription medications, or over-the-counter supplements, we don’t have to battle depression on our own.
What are nootropics?
Sometimes referred to as “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers,” nootropics are any natural or manufactured substance that may improve mental performance.
Some of the most common nootropics include caffeine, nicotine, ginseng, Ginkgo Biloba, and so many more. Despite their popularity, not all nootropics are safe to consume in high quantities. For example, consuming too much caffeine can be harmful to our cardiovascular and nervous systems.
What is depression?
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a serious yet treatable mental illness marked by extreme sadness and a host of other symptoms:
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Mood swings
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Feelings of isolation
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased ability to focus or concentrate
- Feelings of self-harm or suicide
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 280 million adults worldwide suffer from depression. Fortunately, it’s treatable, often with a combination of therapy, prescription anti-depressants, a healthy diet, and exercise, or nootropics.
Can nootropics help with depression?
Since depression can affect several aspects of our cognitive performance, such as our ability to concentrate or focus, our memory, decision-making abilities, motivation, feeling alert, or our creativity, nootropics may have a positive impact on symptoms of depression that interfere with our cognitive performance.
For example, the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee claims that caffeine can “improve attention span, psychomotor performance, and cognitive functioning,” in addition to promoting “feelings of wellbeing” in the elderly population.
How do I choose a nootropic that’s right for me?
First, before considering a nootropic, it may be beneficial to consult your physician for their advice about what will work best for you. It’s important to consider any existing medical conditions, family history, and what medications and supplements you are already taking.
Whilst doing research online or in your local health and wellness store, it may be helpful to determine if the nootropic you’re considering comes with a Certificate of Authority (CoA). This will tell you if the ingredients contained in the nootropic are pure.
Also, read the reviews by verified buyers. It’s also worth examining the company that produced the nootropic. Are they credible, and what is their reputation like? Are there any complaints, or are they riddled with negative press because of their product lines?
Best nootropics for depression in 2021
If you’re looking for a nootropic to help with symptoms of depression, you might want to try one of the following:
How it can help: Our bodies require magnesium for the maintenance of our bones and nervous system. It is an essential mineral that Normally, we can consume what we need from our diet—eggs, spinach, cashews and walnuts, kale, and dark chocolate. However, when our magnesium levels are low, we may experience fatigue, anxiety, and worsening symptoms of depression.
Benefits: Magnesium may restore your energy levels, help you feel less fatigued, and increase your ability to focus. It can also improve your mood and overall well-being.
Dosage: The normal daily intake for women is 300-310mg and 400-420mg for men.
Keep this in mind: A daily dosage of over 350mg for some patients could lead to adverse side effects, such as irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, or confusion.
How it can help: Also known as maidenhair, Ginkgo Biloba is indigenous to China and has been used in Eastern, alternative medicine for thousands of years. Rich in antioxidants, it’s touted for its ability to fight inflammation and reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and dementia.
Benefits: In addition to its positive effects on fighting inflammation and improving blood circulation, Gingko may also reduce cognitive decline in elderly individuals. For people suffering from depression or a mood disorder, it may improve memory recall, concentration, and executive functioning. Also, because of its antioxidant content, it may help relieve symptoms of anxiety.
Dosage: Gingko comes in capsule, tablet, liquid extract, and tea form. The most common dose is 120mg to 240 mg daily.
Keep this in mind: Unprocessed Ginkgo seeds are poisonous, so do not consume them. Also, avoid taking large quantities of Gingko, as it may have adverse effects, such as allergic skin reactions or arrhythmia.
How it can help: Coenzyme Q-10 exists naturally in the body and plays a major role in maintaining our metabolism. In addition to helping improve our cardiovascular health, it may also improve the symptoms of mood disorders.
Benefits: It may decrease depression and fatigue, improve or stabilize mood, and restore energy levels. Research suggests it may also help treat depression-associated conditions, such as fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Dosage: Whilst there is no standard dosage, on average consumers may take 50mg to 250mg daily.
Keep this in mind: Since Coenzyme Q-10 can lower your blood pressure and blood sugar, patients with diabetes or those on blood-thinners should consult their doctor before taking this nootropic.
How it can help: L-Theanine is an amino acid naturally found in black and green tea. It may help with insomnia, stress, and anxiety.
Benefits: May increase focus and concentration, help with symptoms of anxiety by promoting calmness, lower your blood pressure, and help bolster your immunity, leaving you less susceptible to illness or feeling drained.
Dosage: It is sold in tablet, capsule, and tea forms.
Keep this in mind: Because of its caffeine content, it’s important to be mindful of how much L-Theanine you are consuming, especially when taken with coffee or other stimulants. This is especially critical for women who are pregnant or nursing.
How it can help: Rhodiola Rosea is a herb grown in the cold climates of Asia and Europe. It has been used for centuries throughout Russia to treat anxiety and other mood disorders. Since it may help balance your neurotransmitters, Rhodiola Rosea may help combat mild to moderate depression.
Benefits: Because its roots are adaptogenic, Rhodiola Rosea may help reduce cortisol levels and stress, and stabilize your mood. It can also help alleviate fatigue or burn-out that can coexist with depression.
Dosage: Rhodiola is available as a capsule, tablet, powder, liquid extract, and tea. Some supplements may exist with other all-natural, mood-boosting ingredients in a health regime, such as in Earths Secret’s Ultimate Complex, or simply taken on its own. Depending on what you plan to take it for, the dosage may vary.
Keep this in mind: Because of its stimulant effect, those suffering from bipolar disorder or who are already taking a stimulant should consult their doctor before taking Rhodiola Rosea.
St John’s Wort
How it can help: St. John’s Wort is a herbal remedy sourced from the St. Johns Wort plant, used for thousands of years to treat mild depression or mood disorders.
Benefits: It may treat symptoms of mild depression. It can also improve your mood and help you concentrate. The Cleveland Clinic reports that it may also help alleviate symptoms of menopause, and aid in wound healing.
Dosage: In addition to using the herb in tea, it also exists as a capsule or a liquid. Whilst there is no standard dosage, the most mg dosage on the market is 300mg capsules, and users generally take them one to three times daily.
Keep this in mind: Because St. John’s Wort can cause an increase in your serotonin levels, it’s important to avoid it (or consult your doctor) if you are taking an antidepressant or SSRI.
Need a hand to boost your mood?
Depression wears many costumes, and none of us will experience it in the same way. Whilst you may feel isolated in its clutches, a helping hand may be in plain sight.
Earths Secret’s Calm complex combines five all-natural ingredients—KSM-66 Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, Holy Basil extract, L-Theanine, and organic black pepper—that could help alleviate several symptoms of depression, including insomnia, difficulty concentrating, low energy levels, and mood swings.
This vegan-friendly, non-GMO complex contains natural nootropics and adaptogens that can tackle your depression symptoms at the cellular level, and may help you find your way back to your old self.