7 Natural Supplements for Depression & Anxiety

Portrait of a sad womanAre you depressed or just stressed and anxious because of modern day pressures?

If you are struggling with depression, we have a number of nutrition tips in the form of supplements that may help.

In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. Major depression (clinical depression) is the most common psychiatric disorder and is typically characterized by low mood, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Feeling tired all of the time, difficulty sleeping or waking early in the morning; suicidal thoughts and low self-esteem are also commonly experienced. Many other symptoms can occur in depressive illness and this varies from individual to individual, as does the cause of the depression.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, and it can serve as a prompt to deal with difficult situations. However, when anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder. It is characterised by emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms that create a feeling of uneasiness, fear, or worry.

Prolonged anxiety can lead to depression and physical exhaustion. Both mood problems can lead to appetite and sleep changes. Conventional Treatments for depression and anxiety include cognitive and behavioral therapy, and anti-depressant medications to balance brain chemicals and control the symptoms. Diet also plays its role in depression and low levels of vitamin B12 in particular found mainly in animal produce can cause symptoms of fatigue and depression. All the B vitamins work in unison so take a good quality B complex daily.

The 7 Best Supplements for Depression & Anxiety

Depression conceptual design isolated on white5-HTP

Serotonin is one of the principal neurotransmitters involved in happiness and anti-depression.
It regulates mood and behavior and the research shows it has positive effects on sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain sensation. Serotonin cannot be directly administered, as it does not pass effectively across the blood brain barrier. The precursor of serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptophan, shortened to 5-HTP, which is produced from the amino acid tryptophan.
5-HTP supplements are often recommended for those with mild and moderate depression and can also help induce sleep too. Serotonin is converted to melatonin in the brain, which helps promote a restful sleep. 5-HTP supplementation may have potential benefits for those
who suffer from anxiety disorders, as they are susceptible to serotonergic imbalances; with tryptophan depletion. Anecdotally it has been noted that 5-HTP may reduce cravings for carbohydrates and reducing the appetite. A typical dose of 5-HTP is in the range of 200-500mg, taken either once daily or in divided doses. For sleep a dosage of 100mg may be effective.

Contraindications of 5-HTP

Side effects of 5-HTP are generally mild and may include nausea, heartburn, gas and feelings of fullness. At high doses, it is possible that serotonin syndrome, whereby serotonin accumulates in your body and can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, shivering and muscle spasms. This is one reason why 5-HTP must also not be taken alongside antidepressants, weight-control drugs, other serotonin-modifying agents, or substances known to cause liver damage, because of 5-HTP’s additive effects. People with liver disease may not be able to regulate 5-HTP adequately and those suffering from auto-immune diseases such as scleroderma may be more sensitive to 5-HTP. The safety of taking 5-HTP during pregnancy and breast-feeding is not known so it is best to avoid.

Many antidepressant medications can interact with 5-HTP so they should not be taken together.

Upset crying woman by the oceanSt Johns Wort

St. John’s Wort is made from the extract from the plant of the same name. Traditionally it was used for centuries as a remedy for numerous health complaints including anxiety and nerve pain. Today St. John’s Wort is used for treating depression and anxiety. The recommended dose for St. John’s Wort is three 300 mg capsules per day. As a remedy it has many interactions with medications and can reduce their effectiveness. Similarly to 5-HTP it should also not be taken alongside anti depressant medications.


L-Theanine is an amino acid abundant in green tea. It is able to cross the blood brain barrier and while in the brain it increases GABA and dopamine production. The effects of L-Theanine on the brain help reduce physical and mental stress, promote calmness, focus and help improve cognition. The recommended daily dose for L-Theanine is one to two 200mg capsules.


GABA, or gama-AminoButyric acid is an amino acid naturally found within the brain and eyes of all animals. GABA is used as a remedy for anxiety, it is similar to L-Theanine in that it calms the mind and helps to promote a relaxed state that allows users to focus more clearly. GABA is also used to help treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), relieve insomnia and to help with depression. The recommended dose for GABA is to take 2g) daily.

Holy Basil (tulsi)

Holy Basil is a herb that has shown positive benefits in stress and anxiety by bringing balance and calm to the body. Other benefits of Holy Basil include support for blood sugar and insulin metabolism, helping to counteract the effects of cortisol (the stress hormone), while elevating the spirit.

Valerian Root

Valerian extract is created from the roots of the Valerian herb and has been used for over 2,500 years. Valerian has been shown to be particularly helpful in reducing nervous tension and stress and is known for its calming abilities and as a natural sleep aid due to its sedative actions taken before bedtime. The dosage for Valerian root depends on the strength and type of the extract taken. Consulting a health practitioner and following the directions on the label is safe practice. Valerian affects of certain medications that are metabolized in the liver such as cholesterol and antifungal drugs as well as MAOIs so it should be avoided by anyone on these drugs or anyone with liver disease.


The effects of passionflower tend to be milder than valerian. Passionflower is often combined with valerian, lemon balm or other calming herbs. Only a few scientific studies have tested passionflower as a treatment for anxiety or insomnia and since passionflower is often combined with other calming herbs, it is difficult to tell what effects passionflower has on its own.

The effects of regular exercise and meditation have been found to radically improve mood in depressed people. If you are not up to going for a five mile jog daily try a brisk 20 minute walk to blow the cobwebs away and treat yourself to a guided meditation cd.

Don’t suffer in silence if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression or anxiety. Talk to a friend or a family member if you are worried about your symptoms or ideally see your doctor, especially if you are feeling suicidal. If you are concerned that your doctor will prescribe Panic attackantidepressants and you are worried about becoming addicted to “happy pills” don’t be as the commonly prescribed modern drugs are not addictive but you should definitely discuss your concerns with your doctor. It’s possible that drug treatment is not necessary but some form of talking therapy is all you need to get you back to your old self. Because the incidence of depression and anxiety disorders have risen so dramatically in the last decade or so the stigma attached to mental health issues has also reduced immensely and people talk much more openly about it. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed if you are having difficulty coping just take the first step and you will be surprised at how much help is out there.

If you are really not ready to see your doctor yet and would prefer to find some self-help with your anxiety you should take a look at this highly effective resource which has successfully helped over 60,000 people with techniques to stop panic attacks and anxiety in its tracks.

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