It’s that time of year again. The days are shorter and the temperature has plummeted. Winter is here – and so is the seasonal mood changes it often brings.
Mood changes are common once the weather gets colder. I speak from experience – I’ve struggled with seasonal depression my whole life. I’ve always felt best in the spring and summer and worst in the winter.
In this post, we’re going to look at some nootropics for seasonal depression. But first, let’s explore what exactly seasonal depression is.
What Is Seasonal Depression?
During the winter months, some people regularly get depressed every year like clockwork. They have less energy, tend to sleep more, eat more, and not feel as good as they do at other times of the year. This is known as seasonal depression.
If you experience severe seasonal depression for two-or-more years in a row, you might meet the criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a medical diagnosis and if you experience severe depression in the winter, you should discuss treatment options with your doctor. SAD affects about 6 percent of the U.S. population.
Many more people experience seasonal depression that isn’t serious enough to warrant a diagnosis but can still make the winter months hard to get through. About 14 percent of the U.S. population experience mild seasonal depression or “winter blues.” Fortunately, there are several nootropics that can help to fight off the winter blues.
Nootropics For Seasonal Depression
5-Hydroxytryptophan, aka 5-HTP, is a naturally occurring amino acid. It is a direct precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. In other words, the body uses 5-HTP to make serotonin. This neurotransmitter is known to play a role in mood, appetite, and sleep.
Some people find that taking 5-HTP during the winter months helps to reduce their level of seasonal depression. Though not usually thought of as a nootropic, 5-HTP can have nootropic benefits. Many users find that it improves their mood and helps them to sleep better.
5-HTP is usually taken at night before bed. Some people find that it makes them drowsy. This can help with insomnia which is sometimes a symptom of season depression. Most people find taking anywhere from 50-200 milligrams to be effective.
2. Lion’s Mane
This is a type of mushroom that grows naturally in several parts of the world. Yamabushitake, aka lion’s mane, is popular in the nootropics community for its ability to improve mood, decrease anxiety, reduce inflammation, and improve overall cognition.
The lion’s mane benefit that is most commonly reported is an improvement in mood. Users often report that, within a few days, they notice an overall improved sense of well being. And there is a lot of scientific research to support these claims.
Lion’s mane is usually taken in a dosage of anywhere from 1-3,000 milligrams (1-3 grams) a day. It is often split between 2-3 doses taken over the course of the day. Several studies have shown that taking 3,000 mg a day is safe. This is the dosage that most lion’s mane users report to be effective.
This is a plant that grows naturally in southeast Asia and has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. While not usually considered a nootropic, kratom definitely has cognition-enhancing properties. Users find that it can provide a strong mood boost, an increase in motivation, reduced anxiety, and other nootropic benefits.
Of all the mood boosters on this list, for most people, kratom will probably be the most effective. However, it should only be taken a few times a week. Daily, long-term use can lead to dependence. But only used occasionally, kratom is a powerful mood booster and overall cognition enhancer.
Kratom dosages can vary widely. Generally, smaller doses are more stimulating while higher ones are more sedating. Some people find that as little as 1 gram of kratom can provide a potent mood boost. Others need to take as much as 5 or even 10 grams to notice any effect. As always, start small and work your way up as needed.
4. Rhodiola Rosea
This is an herb that grows naturally at high altitudes and has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. One of rhodiola’s most-commonly-reported benefit is an improvement in mood. And there is a growing body of evidence to support this claim.
But rhodiola’s benefits don’t end with mood. It can also reduce anxiety, reduce fatigue, and improve physical performance. While rhodiola is often effective by itself, a lot of users like to stack it with other nootropics.
As little as 50 mg of rhodiola may be effective at reducing fatigue. However, most nootropic users find that much higher dosages are needed to experience rhodiola’s full benefits. Most users experience great results with between 500-1,000 mg a day.
5. The Happy Stack
This last item on our list of nootropics for seasonal depression isn’t a single substance – it’s a simple-yet-effective nootropic stack. The Happy Stack is made up of three substances: uridine monophosphate, CDP-choline, and fish oil. When taken together, these three items can provide a potent boost in mood and increase in energy. Let’s take a look at each ingredient in The Happy Stack:
Uridine – a naturally-present nucleotide found in the human body. When taken as a supplement, it can improve memory, mood, learning, and reduce anxiety.
CDP-Choline – a popular choline source that can improve memory, learning, motivation, and focus.
Fish Oil – contains omega-3 fatty acids which are known to play an important role in brain health.
While all of these ingredients have nootropic properties on their own, when taken together they pack an even-more-powerful nootropic punch. Pure Nootropics, one of the trusted vendors on our list of where to buy nootropics, sells all three ingredients together at a discount in the Happy Stack Bundle.
Seasonal depression can be hard to deal with year after year. Believe me: I know. Fortunately, there are a number of nootropic that can help you get through those cold, dark winter months.