Beat Depression Naturally Using This Powerful “Feel Good” Substance
Consider this: You’re lying on the couch, unable to motivate yourself enough to get up and get dressed. Everything seems pointless, hopeless, and dark. There’s a pill sitting on the coffee table a few feet in front of you that promises to make you feel 100 percent better.
But you can’t muster the enthusiasm or energy to get up and get it.
That’s the best—and truest—description of severe depression I’ve ever heard.
I know, because it’s exactly how I felt for one horrendous year of my life, right after I moved to Los Angeles and promptly got divorced.
Luckily, it didn’t last (feeling horrendous, that is—the divorce has gone quite well, thank you).
Using Antidepressants Can Be Avoided…
Yes, I did use a prescription drug—Lexapro, actually—to help get up off the couch and put some things into motion that eventually helped me get rid of the depression.
But I haven’t used Lexapro for years, and I’ve seen plenty of other people get off antidepressants—or avoid going on them in the first place—by using a combination of natural substances.
One of the most powerful natural substances for fighting depression is 5-HTP.
Depression Is Not a Prozac Deficiency…
The term 5-HTP stands for 5-hydroxytryptophan, and it’s the stuff out of which your body makes the neurotransmitter serotonin, a chemical that transmits information in the brain.
Though depression is complicated, it’s widely accepted that neurotransmitters are deeply involved, especially serotonin. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter. The more serotonin, goes the reasoning, the happier the camper. Low levels of serotonin are associated with cravings, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, aggressive behavior, and depression.
What Pharmaceutical Antidepressants Do…
The most popular pharmaceutical antidepressants—Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and others.—belong to a class of medications called serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs inhibit the action of the cleanup crew that “mops up” serotonin from the brain, thus allowing serotonin to hang around longer.
That means your brain keeps reusing these same serotonin neurotransmitters over and over again. It seems to work to mitigate depression, but it sure isn’t the most elegant system in the world.
One Step Away from Serotonin…
Your body makes serotonin from an amino acid known as L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is found in proteins like meat and seafood. The body turns tryptophan into 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), and then, with the help of vitamin B6, into serotonin.
That means it’s only one step from 5-HTP to serotonin.
Supplemental 5-HTP increases serotonin, and because of that, has a calming, relaxing effect on brain chemistry.
Other “Feel Good” Neurotransmitters…
In animal and human studies, 5-HTP—unlike its precursor, tryptophan—has also been shown to increase catecholamine metabolism, specifically working on dopamine and norepinephrine which are other “feel good” neurotransmitters that are involved in mood.
It’s possible that the antidepressant effect of 5-HTP may be related to a combined effect on serotonin and these other neurotransmitters.
Promotes Better Sleep, No Side Effects…
5-HTP is used for mild and moderate depression, and it also may help you sleep better. Why? Because at night, serotonin converts into melatonin, which is important for a great night’s sleep.
For some people, 5-HTP may perform equal to or better than standard antidepressant drugs, and, in most cases, without side effects.
5-HTP Studies. . .
One study compared 5-HTP to fluvoxamine, an SSRI like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. In the study, subjects received either 5-HTP (100 mg) or fluvoxamine (50 mg) three times daily for six weeks. More patients felt better after using 5-HTP than fluvoxamine, and 5-HTP was quicker acting than the fluvoxamine.
In another study, patients who were unresponsive to other antidepressant therapy showed significant improvement when using 5-HTP.
Listen, I’m the last person to tell you to throw out your pharmaceutical antidepressants. I believe they’ve helped many people—including me—and have probably saved a lot of lives. But if you have mild or moderate depression, or any of the other conditions mentioned above that might respond to a boost in the brain chemical serotonin, you might give 5-HTP a try.
And if you’re lucky—and many people are—you may find that by using 5-HTP, you may not need the “big guns” after all.
Here is our favorite 5-HTP supplement…
We recommend 5-HTP by DFH for three reasons…
One, DFH consistently makes extremely high-quality products. Their supplements are universally free of additives, toxins, allergens, and other chemicals.
Two, the dose is 100 mg per capsule which we believe is a clinically meaningful dose, and a good one to start with. You can work up to 300 mg a day if needed.
And three, it’s formulated with 20mg of B-6 which is needed for the conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin.
Overall, it’s just a great product!
If you choose to try 5-HTP, keep this in mind: there’s a lack of info about the effects of taking 5-HTP during pregnancy, so check with your health professional or be on the safe side and don’t use it when pregnant.
If you suffer from depression and are considering this supplement I would also like to encourage you to consider a consulation with Julie, our in-house nutritionist. This is especially important if you are taking other medications or want to transition off your anti-depression prescription.
Keep in mind that we carry other natural products formulated to assist with anxiety, cravings, OCD, and other related conditions. Julie can help you with identify the best products for your specific needs.
Wishing You Health and Wellness,
The Rockwell Nutrition Team
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