Can You Take Nootropics With Antidepressants?

October 26, 2023

Nootropics are often called ‘smart drugs’ and are thought to work as cognitive enhancers to improve brain functioning in multiple ways. They are also believed to help with issues such as depression and anxiety. 

People with depression and anxiety commonly take antidepressant drugs and may be concerned about whether it is safe to take a nootropic stack for anxiety with these medications.

Do Nootropics Interact With Antidepressants?

A common misconception is that because nootropics have natural origins, they can always be safely used with antidepressants. However, even 100% natural nootropics could interact with prescription medications and lead to unwanted side effects. 

There are two types of interactions that can take place, depending on the type of nootropics and prescription drugs being combined:

  • Additive interactions happen when the effects of a medication with a supplement are similar and amplify each other. These interactions negatively affect the body by pushing it too much in one direction. For instance, when combined with antidepressants, nootropics such as 5-HTP can result in an excess of serotonin, leading to serotonin syndrome symptoms (1).
  • Antagonistic interactions happen when the effects of an antidepressant drug are canceled by a nootropic. This, in turn, reduces the efficacy of the medication. An example is GABA and ADD/ADHD medications. GABA directly counteracts the effects of ADD/ADHD medications; this is likely to make both the supplement and the medication less effective (2). 

Can Nootropics Help With Depression?

Even though nootropics and antidepressants can interact, this does not mean you should never combine them. When taken properly and under the supervision of a healthcare professional, nootropics are believed to have a positive effect on mental health.

Here’s how nootropics might help in alleviating symptoms of depression:

Neurotransmitter Modulation

Certain nootropics are believed to influence neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. Because these play a significant role in mood regulation, increased levels are often associated with improved mood. Nootropics might help with mood enhancement by increasing neurotransmitter levels.

Improved Neuroplasticity

Studies have shown that nootropics lead to improved neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change and adapt over time. Improved neuroplasticity, in turn, may lead to the development of resilience against depressive symptoms (3). 

Stress Reduction

Nootropics might also counteract the negative effects of stress on the brain. Many nootropics contain L-theanine, which is an amino acid found in green tea that has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve cognitive function (4). 

Is It Okay to Take Nootropics Every Day?

The type of nootropic being used as well as the dosing regimen of your antidepressant drug may determine if it is safe to take nootropics on a daily basis. Some nootropics are considered completely safe for daily usage, but others tend to lose their efficacy if taken every day because the body can develop a tolerance to the supplement.

Similarly, if you take antidepressant medication every other day, you may be able to use nootropics on alternate days. Again, consulting a healthcare provider before using nootropics is crucial.

In Summary

If you are new to nootropics, it is important that you take precautions before incorporating them into your regimen to make sure that you are reaping the benefits while staying safe. This is particularly true if you are also taking any prescribed antidepressants.

As with any supplement, it is important to consult a doctor to evaluate the possible risks and interactions between your current medications and any supplement. They will be able to discuss any potential issues and can recommend an appropriate nootropic dose and regimen for you.

Also, avoid nootropics if you have a known allergy to any of their ingredients. Keep in mind that because this is an unregulated space, some nootropics may be contaminated with substances not mentioned on the labels. Therefore, it is important to buy your supplements from a reliable company. 

Looking for more helpful nootropic information? Check out our posts on whether NAC is a nootropic and if you can take nootropics while pregnant!

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