Can Nootropics Cause Depression?

November 3, 2023

Nootropics are increasingly being taken as a cognitive enhancer. Also known as ‘smart drugs,’ some research has indicated that nootropics can boost memory, intelligence, focus, and creativity (1). 

A group of nootropics known as ‘social anxiety nootropics’ is also believed to help alleviate symptoms of social anxiety disorder (2). 

However, there are some concerns about the possible adverse psychiatric side effects of nootropics, such as causing depression in some individuals. 

Are Nootropics Linked to Depression?

No research has yet indicated that nootropics directly cause depression. Based on anecdotal evidence, however, it seems that they do have the potential to induce depressive symptoms in some individuals. Some users report experiencing emotional changes after taking certain nootropics. 

The specific effects of nootropics on an individual’s mood can depend on many factors, including mental health history, the specific nootropics being taken, the dose consumed, and personal and environmental factors. 

Interestingly, some studies have suggested that certain nootropics have antidepressant properties and can be a potential alternative treatment for depressive disorders (3). However, there have also been reports of individuals experiencing adverse psychiatric effects with nootropic use, including symptoms of depression and worsening of existing symptoms (4).

Because most of the research on the topic is anecdotal, these reports cannot be treated as conclusive evidence. There is a need for further investigation regarding the link between nootropics and depression, particularly when taken in combination with antidepressants. 

It’s also important to remember that depression is a complex mental disorder with multiple causes, including environmental, psychological, and genetic factors (5). While substances like nootropics can potentially influence mood and may affect brain chemistry, it is unlikely that consuming nootropics alone would be the sole cause of depression.

What’s more, there is a huge difference between temporary emotional instability and clinical depression. Experiencing rapid mood changes and periods of feeling low does not indicate a depressive disorder. In clinical practice, major depressive disorder is diagnosed when people experience any five of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:

  • Depressed mood
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight change
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Restlessness or lack of initiative

What Factors Impact Nootropics’ Effects on Depression?

Several factors can influence the effects of nootropics on your mental state, including symptoms of depression (4). These include dosage, underlying health conditions, and an individual’s general disposition. 

  • Dosage: Consuming a large amount of nootropics can have a stronger impact on your brain chemistry, which could give rise to increased symptoms of depression. Always follow recommended dosages and consult a healthcare professional when in doubt. 
  • Underlying health conditions: Individuals with preexisting mental health conditions like depression or anxiety may be more likely to experience exacerbated symptoms with nootropics. 
  • Genetic disposition: The effects of nootropics on individuals vary widely. Some people may be more genetically predisposed to experiencing the potential depressive effects of nootropics.

Final Thoughts

The relationship between depression and nootropics is complex and has not yet been thoroughly researched. While some studies raise concerns about potential depressive effects, others suggest psychiatric benefits. This means more research is needed to better understand the correlation between the two. 

As with any supplement, remember that individual results vary when consuming nootropics. Be sure to find products from a reliable company and choose a supplement that helps you achieve your desired goal with a moderate dose–and without causing adverse effects. Responsible use and consulting with healthcare professionals are also essential when you begin using nootropics and to determine if you can take nootropics with Wellbutrin.

Looking to dive deeper into what adaptogens and nootropics are? Check out our latest posts!

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This product has not been approved by the US FDA. All statements on this page are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the US FDA.

This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. See more


Sources: 

  1. https://www.eurekaselect.com/article/3432
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18206286/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9415189/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756795/
  5. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression

Legal Disclaimer

All statements on this page are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated or approved by the US FDA.
Products mentioned on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. See more

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