Can Nootropics Cause Depression?
Nootropics can be of great value to just about anybody. Whether you are studying at school, college or university, maybe you are looking for something to help increase your brain power or increase your concentration, or maybe you (like me) have suffered some sort of brain injury and stumbled into Nootropics purely as a way to help your brain return to “normal” function.
But what if you have an underlying, or quite significant mental illness?
In this post I will examine the benefits of taking Nootropics if you have a mental health issue.
As a sufferer of Anxiety, Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following an accident, I have found certain natural Nootropics to be of great value, and have truly helped me in my daily life, whether it is by lowering levels of stress and anxiety, increasing my general mood, by assisting in my sleep patterns or by helping me focus and concentrate.
Of the VAST number of Nootropics I have tried and tested I can give you some insight to help educate you and perhaps alleviate your fears and maybe point you in the right direction of Nootropic supplements that can be of benefit to you and your brain.
The Nootropic suppliments I have suggested are of course natural but if you have any sort of history or diagnosis of depression then I would most certainly consult a doctor before taking anything.
I would also suggest that you steer clear of anything which may be a controlled or prescribed substance, UNLESS told to do so by your Doctor.
Also be advised that there are interactions between many prescribed drugs and Nootropics, both natural and otherwise, thus I would highly suggest consulting a Doctor to check what Nootropics interact badly with any medication you may already be on.
Can Nootropics Cause Depression?
The short answer is that taking Nootropics COULD really be beneficial to your mood, your levels of concentration, your energy levels, memory, mental capacity and much more. And speaking from experience, taking the right Nootropic for you can really help alleviate feelings of depression.
Depression can be brought on by a number of varying factors. Life changing events, loss of a loved one, brain injury, or it could be hereditary. Whatever the reason it can be a severely debilitating affliction which seriously should be addressed by a medical professional.
There are however proven natural remedies which can assist in increasing good hormone levels, balancing and managing sleep patterns, releasing tensions, increasing blood flow to the brain and protecting against antioxidants.
We will discuss some of these further down below.
Can Nootropics Cause Anxiety?
As I previously mentioned (and will keep mentioning), if you have ANY sort of mental health concern then you MUST consult your Family Doctor.
However there are a number of organic Nootropics that have proven health benefits and can help lower anxiety levels and increase levels of “Happy Hormones.”
On a side note however I would highly suggest that if you suffer from anxiety then you try to limit your intake of stimulants such as caffeine, and definitely steer clear of energy drinks.
There are however a number of natural Nootropics that can actually help lower levels of Anxiety, from helping you relax and reducing stress levels and lowering the “stress hormone” cortisol.
High doses of stimulants can actually bring on feelings of anxiousness, and if you have been told that you suffer from anxiety then cutting your caffeine intake for example will make a big difference in your general mood and anxiety levels.
On a side note, having regular exercise (and also sex) releases Endorphins, and Serotonin, both of which go a long way in reducing your levels of Anxiety, but also as a bonus will help you get more sleep, again helping to keep tabs on your stress levels.
We will look at stress and Anxiety reducing Nootropics further down in this post.
Are Nootropics Safe?
Yes and no. when taken in reccomended doses, natural Nootropics can be completely safe, like anything else. They also have highly desireable effects, and can replenish vital missing nutrients, assist with cognative function, and assist with regulating sleep and hormone production.
however, when you start to take too much of anything your body starts to react to it in some way. For instance. Taking too much vitamin C can have some detrimental and unpleasant effects on your health.
Consuming “drugs” such as prescribed or controlled medicines that are intended to treat ADHD if you do not suffer from the illness they are intended to treat for instance, is quite a bad idea...unless you have been instructed by your Doctor to do so of course.
Thus I would highly recommend that you stay well clear of these sort of Nootropic substances where possible.
As noted before, many Nootropics have interactions with some prescribed drugs, always check before you take anything.
What Are Natural Nootropics?
Imagine this, you go to the gym and have a really hard workout, you lift some weights to build up your muscles, this breaks down the muscle fibres causing tiny microscopic tears.
You then go and spend 20-30 minutes having a cardiovascular workout.
At the end of which you feel exhausted and your muscles feel weak.
You have depleted your body of a number of nutrients, so what do you do?
You chug down a protein shake, because your body NEEDS protein to repair the muscle damage. The protein shake is full of sugars. Your workout has depleted your glucose reserves.
You then go and take a few Amino Acids, which help to synthesise the protein in your diet and help to rebuild the damaged tissues. You take some Zinc as its the first mineral to be exhausted when you lift weights.
Effectively you are refilling your body with the some of essential nutrients that it needs.
These are all supplements that you are perhaps missing from your diet that you are simply topping up.
Now lets look at it this way.
You get up, have your breakfast and start the long commute to work. You have to concentrate (albeit maybe not a lot) whilst you are driving, you get stuck in traffic and get stressed.
You arrive at work and have meetings, paperwork, maybe manual and mental labour and generally more stress.
When works finished you get back in your car and start the long commute home.
You then feed the kids and yourself before you take them to soccer practice, or whatever.
All the general daily tasks work your brain. Go and do an hour of algebra and feel how tired your brain is and how much it hurts.
The task of carrying out your daily routine, and all the stresses of the day is like a workout on your brain.
ALL that natural Nootropics are, are supplements that provide your body with some of the essential nutrients that your BRAIN needs to recover and function properly, and that you are most likely lacking in.
The exact same way that protein, amino acids glucose etc are what your body needs to repair and function properly from the physical rigours of working out.
However. The majority of people don't give a hoot about taking supplements to “feed” their brain and aid in brain function, thus are likely to be deficient in some way or another of one or more of the nutrients their brain requires.
Taking Nootropics tops up these levels. Sometimes having low mood can be addressed by a natural nootropic substance that increases “happy hormones” such as seratonin, and can assist in regulating your sleeping paterns, as in Melatonin.
You also have your more extreme Nootropics, but we'll get to them shortly.
Are there different kinds of Nootropics?
There are ultimatly 2 kinds of Nootropic supplements...Now many of you may be complaining about your “...tam,” and Choline type “drugs.” and how they differ, but bear with me.
Yes there are different types of medical Nootropics (ones commonly prescribed for instance for ADHD and other behavioural issues etc), however, from a nice and simple, basic perspective you have natural vs medicinal (prescribed/controlled).
In my opinion and from my experiences you SHOULD NOT be buying something which is either controlled or prescribed to treat lets say a behavioural problem, UNLESS told to do so by your Doctor.
You do not know what sort of effect they will have on you and your brain, and are basically playing Russian roulette with your brain health, mood, personality and general mental health. Avoid these as much as possible...Again, unless your doctor gives you good reason to take them.
These types of Nootropic supplimets are extremely powerful substances, who's main job is to treat certain problems, and any Nootropic effect is purely a secondary or side effect.
People tend to take them as they are trying to achieve some sort of “limitless” effect or believe that it will increase their cognitive power making them more intelligent and turn them into Albert Einstein or Nikolai Tesla overnight….And it goes without question that anything which promises results similar to this are probably lying.
Continuous use of these type of Nootropic Supplements can be highly dangerous as studies have shown some to damage the body’s ability to produce certain hormones over time
So discounting your Adderal and Fasoracetam for example what do we have left?
There are an abundance of natural Nootropics which nourish and protect the brain, and are easily available and affordable, some of which have been used for centuries and some of which are only being discovered to assist with cognitive function.
When taken in the prescribed doses these can be totally safe. I would however highly suggest that before you take anything whatsoever, you consult your Doctor.
Some of these are of course in concentrated pill form, and most have extracts from for instance foods etc. These have of course been created in a lab somewhere but I would still very much consider these to be natural.
These would include (but not restricted to).
Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein...they help repair and build tissue. Several of these however are highly beneficial for the brain,
Which predominately creates acetylcholine, a neuro-transmitter used for learning and memory functions. ALCAR can improve mood, mental clarity, brain processing speed and alertness. It also has antidepressant properties.
Commonly found in red meat, and vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in Creatine.
Despite being heavily used by athletes and body builders to assist in muscle growth, recovery and athletic performance. Creatine also has a number of Nootropic benefits, assisting in memory and processing speeds.
Taurine is often an ingredient used in energy drinks in part due to its ablilty to increase focus and concentration. Taurine however does have some other interesting Nootropic and cognitive benefits.
Its primary purpose in the brain is to move and remove calcium, magnesium, potassium ans sodium in and out of the brain.
It can also assist with those who are perhaps anxious or suffer from insomnia due to its ability to activate Gaba receptors.
Tryptophan acts to create Serotonin and Melatonin (the happy hormone and the sleepy hormone...so to speak), which both make you feel happier and regulates your sleep cycle.
As well as helping with concentration, Tryptophan has also been shown to help with a large variety of mental health disorders including depression and anxiety.
Found in tea, Theanine assists in creating a state of relaxed concentration, it also increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and GABA which helps with learning new things, memory, and improves mood.
Arctic Root increases your ability to successfully cope with both physical and psychological stresses.
Can help with difficulties concentrating, and lower stress and anxiety.
Bacopa helps by balancing good brain hormones and reducing cortisol levels (the stress hormone). It also has other Nootropic effects and increases cognitive function by increasing concentration, memory, focus and lowers stress.
You will probably have heard of this already, As well as having numerous other health benefits, Ginko has a number of Nootropic and cognitive enhancing abilities.
It mainly works by promoting circulation around the brain and preventing it against radicals. It can assist with memory loss, concentration, fatigue, depression and mental exhaustion. After suffering a brain injury, Ginko was a common part of my daily supplements.
Word of caution on Ginko Biloba, it does have some serious interactions with medication for depression as it can lead to tachycardia.
A favourite of Simon and Garfunkel, you probably have some of this in your cupboards somewhere as its been used in cooking since time immemorial.
Despite helping to make your shepherds pie taste delicious and being on sale at Scarborough Fair. Rosemary is quite efficient at improving mood and increasing concentration when inhaled or smelled in oil form.
This Turmeric extract is an excellent antioxidant, and can increase blood flow in the brain, improve concentration and may even have preventative qualities against age related memory loss, Alzheimer's and other cognitive impairments.
It can also increase Dopamine and Serotonin production and stimulate cell production.
Suffering from a mental illness can be a very debilitating and isolating experience. And as you can see, there are many natural remedies which although they may not be a short term fix, they can certainly go a long way to assisting in your recovery. Whether that’s from managing hormone levels, getting more sleep, or by just increasing your energy levels.