What can you do to lift your mood when you feel depression, fatigue, anxiety, fear, or exhaustion? For those of you looking for mood-enhancing drugs, nootropics may be a solution. Nootropics are best known as cognitive enhancers because of their ability to boost brain power and increase energy levels. They’re primarily used to assist with learning and studying, increasing memory capacity, speeding up information recall, and helping overcome cognitive impairments.
In addition to improving mental cognition, recent research provides details on how nootropics can also benefit your mood and sense of well-being. Who doesn’t want to be happier on a daily basis? Below, you’ll find our suggestions for the best nootropics for mood enhancement. First, let’s cover a major concept on how these supplements work to improve your mood.
How Do Mood Enhancers Work?
There are two types of neurotransmitters that we need to consider: inhibitory and excitatory. Each type serves a specific function. Excitatory neurotransmitters work to stimulate the brain. Inhibitory neurons work to create balance and calmness in the brain, a crucial function of natural ADHD medications
When excitatory neurotransmitters are overactive, feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression can occur. The overactivity of excitatory neurons will quickly deplete the supply of inhibitory neurons creating an unbalanced chemical environment in your brain. Active inhibition of excitatory neurotransmitters helps to achieve mood stabilization and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Therefore, drugs or supplements that increase the presence of inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain can enhance your mood.
Under normal conditions, excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters work together to achieve equilibrium. Unfortunately, that balance can be upset at times, and some outside help is needed. All of the mood-boosting nootropics and supplements listed below can play a role in maintaining that all important balance.
Here is our list of the best nootropics for mood enhancement and stabilization, in no particular order. In our list, we will cover: Noopept, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Phosphatidylserine, Aniracetam, L-Tyrosine, Sulbutiamine, Inositol, L-Theanine, Phenibut, St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP, and Modafinil / Adrafinil.
Best Mood Enhancing Supplements & Nootropics
Noopept, a powerful peptide nootropic with anxiolytic properties, is one of the most popular mood enhancement drugs. It also made our list of the best nootropics for focus. The benefit of a Noopept supplement over common racetams (such as Piracetam or Aniracetam) is that it’s much more potent. Noopept’s strength means you can get away with much smaller daily dosages to achieve the same mood-boosting effects. The daily recommended dosage for Noopept is around 10mg to 30mg. Piracetam requires 4 to 8 grams per day to achieve similar cognitive enhancement results.
We know that Noopept has a positive impact on cognitive function. However, a recent study noted that Noopept could also reduce stress and anxiety levels. This reduction of stress and anxiety allows for mood stabilization and an improved sense of mental well-being. Taking Noopept for mood enhancement comes with many additional benefits. Its antidepressant qualities combined with its ability to improve memory, speed up recall, and increase motivation and energy make it a well-rounded synthetic nootropic supplement.
2. Omega-3 Fish Oil
Omega-3 fatty acid, more commonly known as fish oil, has exceptional antidepressant qualities. The two types of omega-3 supplements to consider are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA is best known for supporting cognitive function by improving communication between neurons in your brain.
Studies have shown that EPA is much more useful for reducing symptoms of anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. EPA does this by controlling neuroinflammation and lessening the presence of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. When choosing a fish oil supplement for mood stabilization, ensure it has a higher ratio of EPA to DHA.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid that plays a critical role in the growth and maintenance of neurons. As the primary structural force behind our cell membranes, PS is vital for cell-to-cell communication and healthy brain function. This phospholipid is well-known among nootropic users for its ability to improve focus, mental stamina, and memory. Much like fish oil, Phosphatidylserine offers many benefits outside of neuroprotection and nootropic properties.
Studies have shown that PS can positively impact several neurotransmitters that influence mood. Specifically, PS can regulate serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Phosphatidylserine can even affect melatonin, which helps normalize sleeping patterns. Insomnia is a leading cause of anxiety, depression, and various other mood disorders. Therefore, an all-natural supplement that can improve the levels of mood-related neurotransmitters in the brain and help regulate sleep cycles is highly desirable.
Aniracetam can positively affect the brain’s acetylcholine and glutamate receptors (specifically AMPA receptors). Glutamate is a highly prevalent excitatory neurotransmitter in your brain. Therefore, supplementing Aniracetam can help improve creativity, focus, mental clarity, energy, and memory in an individual. But how does it help with mood enhancement?
Studies suggest that Aniracetam is an anxiolytic (anxiety inhibiting) nootropic because it increases production of neurochemicals dopamine and serotonin in your brain. These two chemicals are primarily responsible for those “feel good” emotions associated with excitement, reward, and one’s zest for life. When these chemicals are low, depression, anxiety, and insomnia may occur.
Taking Aniracetam for improving memory retention is common, but the results on mood improvement are positive as well. Those who experience mild cognitive disorders may also find that Aniracetam can support emotional stability. This added benefit is helpful to those struggling with depression and anxiety.
Aniracetam is considered by many to be the most effective mood enhancing nootropic in the racetam family. It has both more potency and improved absorption for blood-brain barrier penetration than any of the other racetams. Aniracetam’s effects are noticeable around the 15-20 minute mark post-ingestion due to its rapid absorption rate. Although, its half-life is relatively short at only around two hours.
L-Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid that plays a vital role in the production of neurotransmitters (catecholamines) dopamine and noradrenaline. Protein-rich foods like turkey, chicken, fish, yogurt, milk, cheese, avocados, and almonds contain L-Tyrosine. Studies have shown little to no effect of L-Tyrosine for mood improvement in normal individuals.
However, those in stressful situations have significantly benefited from L-Tyrosine supplements. These scenarios include elongated sleep deprivation, stress-induced weight loss, extreme fatigue, or significant life stress (such as divorce, bankruptcy, or death). When acute stressors occur, there may be a depletion of noradrenaline and other neurotransmitters related to mood. Once L-Tyrosine is metabolized, it may influence catecholamine synthesis when the body is under immense stress.
Sulbutiamine, a synthetic derivative of vitamin B1 (thiamine), is mainly used to treat chronic fatigue conditions associated with asthenia. Asthenia is a physical condition in which one feels extreme exhaustion due to perceived or true muscle weakness. Perceived meaning, when you feel that you must exert more effort to accomplish a task. True weakness refers to exerted strength being significantly less than you would expect. Arcalion (the brand name for Sulbutiamine) is the medication often prescribed to treat this condition.
It may be helpful to take this form of vitamin B for mood enhancement as well. Many regular users of Sulbutiamine tout the drug’s antidepressant and anxiolytic-like effects. It can thicken dopamine receptor density in your brain’s prefrontal cortex and increase the amount of dopamine released. Some countries even prescribe it to patients as an antidepressant.
Another form of vitamin B, Inositol is found naturally in cantaloupes, oranges, grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetables (which contain a wide variety of other B vitamins). Various studies have found this mood-boosting nootropic to be helpful to those suffering from panic attacks or OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).
Further research noted that inositol might also help alleviate symptoms of depression. Victims of suicide who had previously suffered from depression or bipolar disorder were found to have reduced levels of inositol in the frontal cortices of their brain. Because inositol is a natural compound, it is a beneficial mood enhancing drug for patients who are currently taking other medications for psychiatric conditions, such as antidepressants.
While B vitamins are typically good for curing brain fog naturally, Sulbutiamine and Inositol can cause brain fog in some users. This effect arises from their anxiolytic properties. If you experience any form of mental fatigue, we suggest stabilizing your mood with a different supplement.
L-Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in green tea leaves. It is capable of increasing levels of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and glycine in the brain. Many studies show that taking L-Theanine for mood reduces stress, improves positive mindset, and decreases anxiety levels in its users. We’ve written extensively on the subject of L-Theanine for anxiety and depression, and found that it certainly holds up to its claims. The amount of L-Theanine found in green tea is not sufficient to provide a noticeable mood enhancement effect. Thus, you should consider L-Theanine supplementation for maximum benefit.
Eliminating anxiety, fears, and stress is the main effect of Phenibut on mood. Phenibut works by reducing levels of excitatory neurotransmitters and increasing dopamine concentrations in the brain. This nootropic passes through the blood-brain barrier in larger quantities than GABA because its structure contains a phenyl ring. The addition of the phenyl ring is the main differentiator between Phenibut and GABA.
Phenibut, an anxiolytic nootropic, contributes significantly to feelings of relaxation and tranquility. The dopamine increase can help your mood, energy, and motivation as well. Phenibut is also a powerful sleep aid due to its ability to relax the user. The relaxation allows for more vivid dreams and a better night’s sleep. It is recommended to cycle this nootropic supplement on and off to avoid developing a tolerance to its effects.
10. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is a leafy herb that sprawls across regions with mild temperatures and open spaces. The active ingredient, known as Hypericum perforatum, is a well-studied medicinal herb known to have antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties.
A study of St. John’s wort in subjects suffering from major depression revealed that it was a highly effective antidepressant. In fact, this nootropic was comparable to that of regularly prescribed medication with far few side effects. Taking St. John’s wort for mood enhancement should be side effect free for most users. It is not known to have any adverse interactions with other drugs or supplements.
Derived from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, 5-HTP works to increase the serotonin levels in your brain. 5-HTP is the immediate precursor to serotonin, meaning it converts directly into this mood stabilizing neurotransmitter once it enters your brain. Replenishing serotonin from age-related depletion can contribute to feelings of happiness and well-being, relaxation, and calmness, as well as an improved mood.
Studies suggest that 5-HTP and St. John’s wort work together synergistically to create a mood enhancing effect much more impactful than you’d experience by using them individually. As a side benefit, 5-HTP is touted for its usefulness as a sleep aid, similar to tryptophan (the precursor to 5-HTP).
12. Modafinil / Adrafinil
Adrafinil is one of the best smart drugs and best nootropics for mood. Adrafinil is essentially the same thing as Modafinil (Provigil). The main difference is that Adrafinil is metabolized in the liver because it’s a precursor to Modafinil. Its mechanism of action is still unknown, but its effect on mood enhancement and productivity are not up for debate.
A study by the University of Toronto stated that Adrafinil promoted physical activity, increased motivation, improved depression, alleviated anxiety, and caused the subjects to be more sociable. There have been many similar studies demonstrating Adrafinil/Modafinil’s ability to increase cognition and focus for extended periods of time. For energy and motivation, it’s about as close as you’ll come to a real life limitless pill.
Final Thoughts on Mood Enhancing Drugs
Overall, this list of nootropic supplements can be beneficial to boost your mood, increase your energy levels, relieve symptoms of depression or anxiety, and help decrease stress. Although this is not a complete list of mood enhancing drugs, these are the most well-known cognitive boosters and are certainly worth considering. What is your favorite nootropic for mood enhancement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
~ Zig Ziglar
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