Best Nootropics for Depression and Mood

Nootropics that Improve Depression and Mood

Depression is no fun. It can corrode a good time, wreak havoc in one’s life, and ruin motivation. Depression may have many forbearing contributing factors, but it basically starts and ends in the brain.  And fortunately, there are many nootropics which provide an easy, natural solution, all in the form of a simple supplement. From traditional Eastern medicine to modern empirical studies, there are a variety of nootropic herbs which have been proven to reduce depression and give a positive, clear state of mind.

11 Herbs

Top 12 Nootropics That Help with Depression

Although there are many holistic approaches for combating depression, these nootropics are the top twelve best herbs for improving mood and decreasing a depressed state.


Stress and depression and debilitate the mind and body, but Ashwagandha can help.  The herb has been clinically studied to reduce overactivity of the mind and body, and promote recuperation and relaxation (Chevallier, 2016).  It can improve sleep, which also contributes to a positive mood and energy (2016).  Additionally, it contains adaptogenic benefits, especially in its supplement-extracted form (Murray & Pizzorno, 1998).  The herb has also been proven to reduce serum cortisol levels, giving the mind and body a better chance to promote an improved mood and state of being (1998).

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri

As a nootropic adaptogen, the herb offers a number of “destressing” properties (The Nootropics Zone, 2017). These properties give the mind and body an opportunity to reach a mood-based equilibrium, where depression can be reduced (or even eliminated).   The herb has the ability to dramatically reduce tension, a feature supported by numerous clinical trials (2017).  Some of the other assets this nootropic brings to the table include the ability to reduce nervousness, palpitations, insomnia, headaches, and concentration (Beshara et al., 2019).  By reducing oxidative stresses, it provides antioxidant properties that also contribute to the reduction of depression and promotion of a positive mood (Aguiar & Borowski, 2013).

Huperzine A

Probably one of the best studied nootropics for combating depression is Huperzine A.  This herb has revealed the potential to lessen almost all attributes and symptoms of depression (Du et al., 2017).  It can regulate numerous neurotransmitter levels and alter depression-oriented behavior (2017).  It can also improve cognitive impairments which result from depressive disorder (Zheng et al., 2016).  The ability for this nootropic to alter these mood disorders comes from its ability to inhibit AChE.  Basically, it improves the balance of Ach levels in the brain and reduces the feelings of depression and anxiety alike (Higley & Picciotto, 2014).

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm has been used as an antidepressant for thousands of years (Shakeri et al., 2016).  The herb has been proven to enhance mood, a claim backed by many clinical trials (2016).  Lemon Balm is even referenced throughout ancient texts for its ability to “lift the spirits” (Chevallier, 2016).  It can reduce short-term depression, improve long-term health and longevity, and ease anxiety (2016).  It is one of the strongest nootropics when it comes to impacting overall mood (Scholey & Stough, 2011).

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion's Mane

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is well-purported for its ability to decrease depression and improve mood (Beshara et al., 2019).  It can reduce negative symptoms of depression, and reduce anxiety.  Many notable studies back these claims, and support the herb’s ability to improve overall mood (Nagano et al., 2010).  The fungi’s ability to improve sleep contributes to an overall improved mental health (Vigna et al., 2019).  Some studies suggest the fungus could be an alternative treatment for depression altogether (Chong et al., 2019).

Longvida Curcumin

Longvida Curicumin’s ability to control mood is no new news.  The nootropic has been showcased several times for its ample mood-boosting ability (Cox et al., 2015), with most of these benefits stemming from its general health-promoting properties (2015).  Ultimately, Turmeric can enhance mood enough to combat depression (Ramaholimihaso et al., 2020).  It is a common alternative for treatment and management of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), as well as for reducing oxidative stress (2020).  Some recent studies have included FDDNP-PET scans which prove its ability to reduce plaque and tangle accumulation in the brain regions modulating mood (Small et al., 2018).


L-Theanine is renowned for its ability to improve cognitive state and decrease depression (Ross, 2014). It is regularly used for its ability to reduce oxidative stress and promote calming effects on the mind (2014).  The nootropic also possesses powerful antioxidant properties which provide positive effects on mood and behavior (Dodd et al., 2015).  Many clinical trials have outlined its stress-reducing abilities, as well as its ability to promote an overall positive mental health (Hidese et al., 2019).  It has even been suggested that L-Theanine can improve dopamine, serotonin, and GABA neurotransmitter production in the brain (Nathan et al., 2016).


L-Tyrosine is a strong anti-depressant nootropic, possessing the ability to improve dopamine and norepinephrine production in the brain (Alabsi et al., 2016).  It improves nerve cell communication and reduces stress, contributing to its ability to improve mood and combat negativity (Young, 2007).  There are a lot of studies which outline the herb’s natural ability to decrease depression symptoms (Alabsi et al., 2016).  One study in particular showed the herb’s non-essential amino acid’s ability to bolster motivation, improve mood, and produce massive dopamine (McTavish et al., 2005).

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is one of the best natural nootropics for depression, being first used in Europe for its mood-boosting properties (Chevallier, 2016).  The herb has been used in a lot of natural, hollistic remedies throughout the modern world, and clinical trials that back its use as an anti-depressant are pouring in (Ashraf et al., 2019).  One prominent study has proposed that the primary constituent of the herb, silymarin, can have powerful antidepressant effects due to its antioxidant-capabilities.  The same study also outlined the flavonoid’s ability to massively increase neurogenesis in the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, contributing further to its antidepressant activity (2019).

Poria Mushroom

Poria Mushroom is a powerful, natural anti-depressant that can favorably impact mood (Huang et al., 2020).  It provides antioxidant effects which reduce anxeity and depression (Lin et al., 2012).  It is also well known for its ability to promote peaceful, relaxing sleep (Chen et al., 2010), which can also improve depression.

Red Reishi Mushroom

Red Reishi

Red Reishi Mushroom is commonly used to boost mood and reduce depression (Socala et al., 2015).  Many studies have outlined itsa bility to moderate mood, neurotransmitters in the brain, and anxiety (2015).  Other studies suggest that the mushroom’s higher water solubility makes it a wonderful antagonizer of the 5-HT2A receptors, helping the herb moderate anxiolytic-like effects and contributing to positive, balanced mood (Matsuzaki et al., 2013).

Rhodiola Crenulate

Rhodiola is a powerful adaptogen and general tonic, typically turned to for its ability to improve the entire mind and body in many facets (Orr, 2014).  It has been a huge part of Chinese and Ayurvedic traditional medicines, and is well-known for its ability to improve mental endurance.  Its strength in terms of an energy booster affords it the ability to modify mood and improve productivity (2014). These properties make it wonderful for decreasing stress and depression, alongside its purported ability to resist chemical and environmental stressors (Beshara et al., 2019).

Final Notes About Using Nootropics for Depression and Mood

Many nootropics and holistic herbs exist to help reduce depression, improve mood, and combat a poor sense of self.  Utilizing the nootropics on this list within their designated daily values, together or alone, can help improve life altogether.  While some are more effective than others for each individual, after a little trial and error, the correct nootropic for each system will become clear.  Any of these nootropics are a great start for improving mood and eliminating depression. Adding an anti-depression nootropic to a daily regimen is an excellent idea for almost any nootropic stack.

A Note From NooFiles

This article is intended to be used for information only.  We want to remind you that consulting your physician is recommended before adding any dietary supplement of any kind to your daily regimen.


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