5-HTP for Depression
Happiness is important for your overall well-being. The constitution of The World Health Organization (WHO) states “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” A  positive mood is an important predictor of health and longevity. (3)

Are you not feeling like yourself lately? Are you having some sad, depressed or anxious thoughts? It is possible that you may be experiencing low serotonin levels. Increasing serotonin with a natural mood booster like 5-HTP can help relieve depressed moods. 

Serotonin is a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter. It helps relay messages from one area of the brain to another, and also helps with mood regulation. 5-HTP stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan and it is an amino acid that is the precursor of serotonin, which is why it is often used to help boost mood and help relieve depression.

Be sure to avoid prescription antidepressants at all costs. Studies show that they can cause suicidal and homicidal thoughts, and have many other negative side effects. If you are currently taking an antidepressant, please talk to your doctor before stopping it, as it can be dangerous to stop them “cold turkey.” Ask your doctor to help you wean off of an antidepressant slowly and safely.

4 Causes of Low Serotonin 

Low serotonin can be caused by several different things, and by managing these areas, you can start feeling better much sooner. 

1. Unhealthy eating can deplete serotonin, so it’s probably time to restrict or avoid refined sugar and processed carbs, if you have not done so already. Eat as many brightly-colored, organic fruits and vegetables as possible. Eat complex carbohydrates (like brown rice or sweet potato) in moderation if you aren’t on the yeast-free eating program. If you are eating yeast-free, then stick to the meal plan and food lists, as these foods are optimal for supporting serotonin production

2. Stress can also cause serotonin to dip, and this is why sadness can be common during the stress of the holidays. Chronic stress is physiologically and emotionally demanding. Repeated exposure to unpredictable stressors can dysregulate normal stress responses to cause alterations in mood, cognition and physiological function. (1) Reduce stress with prayer, quiet time or yoga at least twice a week. If you have taken on too many obligations, this may be a good time to be honest with yourself about what you can handle. 

3. Too much caffeine is a common cause of low serotonin. Research shows that caffeine has the capability to reduce brain serotonin synthesis by inhibiting tryptophan hydroxylase, the enzyme for central serotonin biosynthesis, and/or to reduce the  brain serotonin/dopamine ratio by blocking adenosine receptors. (2) If you are making it a habit to have more than two cups of coffee per day, then it may be time to cut back or switch to decaf. Green tea is another good option with less caffeine, and it has mood-boosting benefits. Do not drink energy drinks, as they typically have more caffeine than coffee and can cause severe dips in serotonin. 

4. Inactivity can lead to decreased serotonin and depressed moods. Physical activity triggers the release of serotonin, which could be the reason that people with active lifestyles often have less anxiety and depression than people with sedentary lifestyles. Research shows that exercise may raise brain serotonin. A comprehensive review of the relation between exercise and mood concluded that antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects have been clearly demonstrated. (3) 

5-HTP can help boost serotonin levels naturally. A research study demonstrated that patients receiving placebo and 50 mg of 5-HTP daily over a period of 4 weeks experienced a significant improvement of depressive symptoms compared with placebo alone, providing evidence of the clinical benefit of 5-HTP for helping to address depressive symptoms. (4)

Although it can be taken during the day in smaller doses, the best time to take 5-HTP is at bedtime. Take it on an empty stomach right before you go to sleep, and this will help replenish serotonin. If you need to take a daytime dose, take it before a meal. 5-HTP is the immediate precursor to serotonin, which will naturally boost your own production of it. Having better levels of serotonin is not only great for moods, but it can also improve sleep and memory, increase sexual desire, decrease sugar cravings and enhance digestion. 

The key to overcoming depressed moods naturally is to take a holistic approach and incorporate as many of these suggestions as possible. Be sure that you are improving your eating plan, reducing stress, lowering caffeine intake and exercising regularly.

We are here to help! 

Call our Certified Holistic Nutritionists and Vitamin Consultants at Physicians Preference Vitamins at 281-646-1659 with any questions you have about 5-HTP or any of your other supplement needs. It will be our privilege to serve you!