Mood disturbances, depression and anxiety are a prevalent problem in our society. For many, these conditions may feel limiting and in fact there are actually demonstrable issues with cognition, confidence and other factors that anxiety and depression will definitely contribute to. Some estimate that around 10% of the population have some mild to moderate mood disturbances. For those with severe clinical depression, pharmaceuticals may be the best line of defense and taking supplements while under a doctor’s care under a pharmaceutical regimen is not advisable without consulting with your primary care practitioner, but for those who have mild to moderate mood or anxiety issues supplements, herbs and nootropics could be beneficial. An article in Psychology magazine explains how the system of working memory is responsible for managing complicated, interior cognitive tasks such as learning, memory, reasoning and attention and comprehension. Working memory is also involved in temporary storage (that is real-time processing). Depression can severely negatively affect working memory, processing power, focus, attentiveness and other vital elements in cognition.
Aniracetam, one of the original racetam drugs developed by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, who coined the term nootropic, has often been considered an anxiolytic (anxiety relieving) and mood boosting compound. It seems to have some GABAergic effects which may improve mood while relieving nervousness without the sedation that further impairs cognition. Depression often comes with a sense of demotivating anhedonia (lack of the ability to feel joy) so improving mood and motivation can be a double-pronged attack against depression.
Aniracetam, like any compound, may be more or less effective for different people. Some people are sensitive while others will respond less to the same amount. It’s always best to start small and work your way up.
Sulbutiamine is an analogue of a b-vitamin that has been modified to more easily cross the blood brain barrier for greater absorption leading to greater bioavailability. B vitamins in general, and sulbutiamine as well, are great for increasing attentiveness and energy levels while boosting the mood.
In some countries sulbutiamine is even prescribed for depression. One of the ways it works is by stimulating the release of dopamine while increasing receptor density of dopamine in the pre-frontal cortex. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved with feelings of pleasure and joy, but also with attentiveness and focus. For those with severe anhedonia, staying focused or even caring about staying focused may be an issue. Sulbutiamine may also lower inhibitions and increase confidence, according to some anecdotal reports, which can improve the experience of social anxiety or depression for those living with these conditions.
Noopept is a peptide chain that has a similar effect to the racetams without possessing the same chemical structure and backbone as the traditional racetam compounds. Noopept and aniracetam are believed to have a similar effect on dopamine and serotonin receptor sites. Serotonin, or 5-HT, is the neurotransmitter that most traditional antidepressant drugs (the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRI’s) modulate.
Noopept is far more potent than aniracetam or the other traditional racetams and is taken in much smaller doses (10-40mg is a recommended dosage range). Noopept is a psycho-stimulant which means it stimulates the mind without increasing heart rate or directly stimulating the body but once again, certain anecdotal evidence suggest for some it may relieve some anxiety, improve confidence levels and boost mood.
Inositol is a nootropic related to the b-vitamins that is commonly found in some energy drinks. It is believed to affect the mood by reducing anxiety and improving energy levels. It has a modulatory affect on the GABA receptor system. GABA is our mind’s natural calming agent and the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the body.
Inositol is a nootropic that can reduce anxiety levels and and depression quite effectively. It works by interacting heavily with the GABA receptor in your brain, which can improve your clarity of thought and reduce anxiety when you take it in low doses. Inositol may also potentiate (increase the potency or effectiveness of) GABA drugs by increasing the GABA receptor uptake and overall levels of GABA in the brain. GABA, dopamine and serotonin are often closely related to chemical imbalance related anxiety and depression.
5. Velvet bean, or mucuna pruriens, is another nootropic compound that’s actually naturally based that is considered cognitive enhancing, mood boosting and may improve testosterone levels and act as an aphrodisiac. It works by elevating dopamine and norepinephrine levels which in turns boosts mood, focus and motivation. In addition it seems to improve stress response and have a positive effect on the libido. Depression and anxiety can have a negative effect on sexual desire, so this may be a boon to some.
Phenethylamine, or PEA, is considered a natural mood booster. PEA is one of the compounds found in cacao and as a result chocolate that induces a feeling similar to that released when you fall in love. PEA is a mono-aminergic alkaloid that is found in the brain, it is believed to be a neurotransmitter in it’s own right and is found in certain foods.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Rush University and the Centre for Creative Development in Chicago regarding PEA’s anti-depressant effects:
“Phenylethylamine, an endogenous neuroamine, increases attention and activity in animals and has been shown to relieve depression in 60% of depressed patients. It has been proposed that PEA deficit may be the cause of a common form of depressive illness.”
L-theanine, a natural substance found in green tea, is also a mild nootropic that is considered a mood boosting anxiolytic. It also seems to be immunostimulant. Immune functioning and attention and sexual desire are just a few things that seem to be negatively affected by levels of stress and depression.
Citicoline is an endogenous substance that is found throughout the body but has an important effect on the brain. Citicoline can be endogenously produced from choline found in foods like eggs, meat, dairy and seafood, but low levels of choline are bad for focus, memory, intelligence and mood and well-being. Citicoline is found to improve levels of dopamine and acetylcholine in the body so as a result should have a mood boosting and cognitive enhancing effect especially for those who may be choline deficient and considering some studies show that over 90% of people worldwide aren’t getting enough choline, chances are you might be in that population!
Always remember that depression and anxiety are serious issues. If and when they become severe therapy, counselling and/or the aid of a trained psychologist and/or psychiatrist may be necessary. Always make sure to check with your doctor before adding any new supplement to your routine as well, especially if you’re currently taking any over-the-counter or prescribed medicines.