A lot of people wonder if 5-HTP works for depression. I will answer this for you based on my own experience. Throughout this article, I’ll tell you exactly what it is, the 5-HTP benefits and side effects, how it helps those suffering from depression, how it is the best natural alternative to antidepressants, and what the best 5-HTP supplement is (the one I take).
Long story short, if you have come here wondering if 5-HTP actually works, then I can assure you it does. I have been taking 5-HTP daily for a while now and the only thing I regret is not learning about it earlier to treat my depression.
Below I will recommend the best 5-HTP supplement in my opinion which is the one I personally consume.
What is 5-HTP?
5-HTP or 5-Hydroxytryptophan, also known as oxitriptan (INN), is a naturally occurring amino acid in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
5-HTP is essentially a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is the feel-good chemical found throughout the body and brain. Lack of serotonin can result in feelings of depression.
By consuming 5-HTP, your serotonin levels will be restored to the normal levels.
5-HTP is a natural supplement or dietary supplement that has many positive effects and benefits for everyone with the main benefits of elevating your mood and emotional well-being.
What is awesome is that 5-HTP encourages an increase in serotonin levels throughout the brain just like prescribed medication does.
I am not bashing prescribed antidepressants nor have I took them before but from research and the word of mouth, they come with many side effects, can be addicting, and even take months to work, maybe longer if you can’t find the right one the first time around which is a common occurrence.
So ultimately how does 5-HTP produce serotonin? (if you are into the chemistry behind it – if not then ignore this part)
5-HTP is a natural chemical that our bodies make from tryptophan. After tryptophan is formed into 5-HTP, 5-HTP is then reformed into this natural happy chemical called serotonin that I mentioned above. It is as simple as that.
With the increase of serotonin levels throughout the central nervous system, you can expect to have feelings of well-being, mood enlightenment, and an overall positive mood.
This can then lead to feelings of motivation, dedication, and a strong work ethic allowing you to be more productive.
Best 5-HTP Supplement
- Rated 4.5/5 Stars with over 60 customer reviews. (You will notice the reviews are overwhelmingly positive – Click on product to read reviews)
- Promotes Emotional Well Being – 5-HTP allows for the increase of serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of brain activity responsible for mood, emotion, appetite, and sleep cycle.
- Sleep Support – Serotonin is an important neurostransmitter involved in balancing sleep/wake cycles.
- Appetite Support – 5-HTP has been shown to help regulate appetite and food cravings.
- Pure Ingredients – This 5-HTP supplement is manufactured by Pure Encapsulations. Pure Encapsulations manufactures a line of hypoallergenic, researched-based dietary supplements. Their products are precisely formulated using pure ingredients designed to produce results to the benefit of all patients.
- Free From – Pure Encapsulations products are free from wheat, gluten, peanuts, egg, hydrogenated fat, magnesium stearate, artificial sweeteners and colors, and other unnecessary excipients. Any product containing ingredients derived from allergens such as soy, dairy or shellfish is clearly labeled.
Why Do I Like This Supplement?
Simply it works for me and most people. You may hear some people say that 5-HTP does not work for them and that could be true.
Depending on the person, their depression state, and brain chemistry, some treatment options will not work for everyone.
I believe 5-HTP works for majority of patients and serves as a natural, healthy alternative opposed to prescribed antidepressants.
Give it time to work! Do not expect 5-HTP to kick in instantly because you will be disappointed. Your serotonin levels need time to be restored when consuming this supplement.
For me, I started to notice a mood improvement around a week and a half I would say. Some people, it will take longer and others shorter. Nonetheless, give it a least a couple weeks to work before you conclude it’s not for you.
Another great thing about taking this 5-HTP supplement is that for me there were no side effects.
In regards to the pricing of this supplement, it is a bit more pricy than other 5-HTP brands. However, I know I am paying for top quality that proves to work for me. So I will not switch my 5-HTP brand.
The dosage of each capsule is 100mg. That is a good amount. I started with taking 3 capsules per day for the first 2 weeks. That is what I would recommend and then drop your dosage down to 1 capsule per day. I only take 1 capsule per day now.
I have touched upon the benefits a little above in regards to the Pure Encapsulations supplement, but here I will go more in depth for you.
First of all, since 5-HTP is the main precursor to serotonin, I will discuss what serotonin can play a role in.
Serotonin has many important bodily and mental functions such as an essential role in sleep, memory, temperature regulation, sexual appetite or behavior, appetite, learning, endocrine regulation, cardiovascular (heart) functions, as well as muscle contraction.
You will notice that serotonin plays a role in both the physical and mental aspects of our bodies. This in turn plays a huge role in our physical and mental lives.
If you are depressed or diagnosed clinically depressed, then you may have feelings of insomnia, ongoing fear, ongoing sadness, isolation from family and friends, feelings of guilt or shame, appetite loss or overeating, loss of joy in things you once liked, anxiety, headaches, hopelessness, and the list goes on.
These feelings suck. They are terrible and depression in my opinion, is the worst feeling of life. It literally feels as if you are half-empty and dead inside.
What is life without joy or happiness? You are in darkness and cannot see the light. That is not living and needs to be addressed.
What Will Happen to You When You Consume 5-HTP?
- You can expect mood elevation and an increase in mood enlightenment. Think about what this would do for you. If you’re mood was suddenly improved and you started to experience an overall increase in your well-being, what would you do? Would you be more productive? Would you talk more or be more out-going? Would you have motivation to do better things such as exercise or eat healthy? Would you get better sleeps? Would you show more affection towards your family and friends? Would you lose your feeling of fear and isolation? Would you take the risks you were scared to take before? Would you offer a helping hand? The answer is yes you would. I did and know 100% this worked for me. This even in turn made me build this website to help those with depression and other mental illnesses.
- You can expect an increase and overall healthy physical balance. With mood elevation, you can expect a lower level of stress on the body and mind. Your cardiovascular state will expand into a healthy state (if you do not have pretense issues with your heart). Headaches can be caused from a high level of stress, mood deprivation, and imbalance of healthy chemicals in the brain. By taking 5-HTP, you can expect a reduction of headaches. Without the headaches, you can expect to be more productive and think straighter. Since 5-HTP serves as an appetite suppressant, it can also help you lose weight as you can expect to have less feelings of hunger, over-eating, and binge-eating – actions depression often induces. However, more scientific research is needed in regards to 5-HTP and these benefits.
- You can also expect 5-HTP to help with problems associated with fibromyalgia, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), seizure disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
5-HTP and Antidepressants
Clinical research has shown that taking 5-HTP by mouth reduces or eliminates symptoms of depression.
Again. I would also like to stress that 5-HTP may not work for everyone. Personally, it worked for me and majority of people.
However, there are reviews out there as you can see from Amazon, that some people felt there was no affect for whatever reason.
Several studies have found that doses of 100-300 mg daily for 2-4 weeks can improve your state and symptoms of depression.
Furthermore, some early research has shown that 5-HTP may be as beneficial as prescribed antidepressant therapy for some people.
I cannot attest if that statement is true. I have never taken prescribed medication for depression, so I can’t offer a comparison. However I do believe it is true.
5-HTP and forms of prescribed antidepressants both contain the main goal of eliminating or reducing the symptoms of depression by increasing/restoring serotonin levels to a healthy state.
I know from research, fact, and my own experiences that 5-HTP does this. Research shows that antidepressants does this as well.
However, I would again like to point out that prescribed antidepressants come with many side- effects proven through clinical and scientific research. Some side effects of antidepressant medication could be:
- dry mouth
- loss of sexual desire and other sexual related functions such as erectile dysfunction and reduced orgasm
- fatigue and drowsiness
- suicidal thoughts
- increased appetite or weight gain
If 5-HTP can be classified as beneficial as antidepressant medication, then I would like to encourage you to take 5-HTP as it comes with very limited side effects.
It is natural, not synthetic, and is considered a natural supplement. You will expect to have very little side effects when taking this supplement.
Also, prescribed medication can take anywhere from weeks to months to start working. That is if you find the right fit the first go-around.
I have heard of cases where it took even longer to start to feel an increase in mood by prescribed antidepressants and some people who seemed to never find the right fit for them.
With 5-HTP, you can expect an increase in mood and emotional well-being within a week or two, possible longer. Give it at least a couple weeks.
That is how long it took for me (a week and half). Just remember to be consistent with your doses.
5-HTP Side Effects and Dosage
Of course with any medication, supplement, or vitamin there is going to be a range of possible side effects.
This is important to know as every person is different and every person may experience products differently. I cannot attest for these side effects as when I take 5-HTP, I don’t receive any.
Generally, 5-HTP is extremely safe to use when taking by the mouth, which as far as I know is the only way to appropriately use it.
5-HTP has been clinically recorded to be used efficiently and safely in doses up to 400 mg daily for up to one year. However, there have been recorded incidents where people who have taken it for a prolong amount of time have developed a condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), known as a condition that involves muscle tenderness and blood abnormalities. It is commonly believed that EMS from 5-HTP may be because of an accidental contaminant or ingredient in some of the products.
There is not enough clinical or scientific evidence to suggest that EMS is caused by 5-HTP or some other factor. Until otherwise proven, 5-HTP is considered an extremely safe product to use. Read the labels on the bottle. Every 5-HTP bottle that is sold over the counter or online has a respectful, safe dosage which ranges from the mg amount in the capsule.
Other side effects can include nausea, low libido, nightmares, and low appetite (which may be a good thing).
100-400 mg daily in up to three divided doses is considered a normal dosage. I would not worry about your dosage.
As for the 5-HTP brand I use, I used take 3 capsules a day. I would allow myself to take one during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is recommended to take with food.
Lately, I have been taking only 1 capsule per day of 100mg because of steady mood improvements.
5-HTP is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in very large doses. It has been recorded that doses ranging from 6-10 grams daily have been connected to muscle spasms and severe stomach problems.
There is not enough information to suggest that 5-HTP for pregnant or breast-feeding women is unsafe. I would stay on the safe side and avoid use for cautionary measures.
Before surgery, I would recommend to stop taking your 5-HTP 2 weeks prior to the surgery. This is because drugs administered during surgery may affect the serotonin, thus resulting in too much of it in the brain. This can result in side effects such as heart problems, anxiety, and shivering.
Combining 5-HTP With Other Medication
Like I said before, 5-HTP increases the brain chemical of serotonin (happy chemical). Some medications administered for depression also increase the amount of serotonin throughout the brain and central nervous system.
Consuming 5-HTP with these medications might cause side-effects including heart problems, anxiety, and shivering. Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking other antidepressants. I know some people who alternate. I do not recommend this at all.
Some of these antidepressants include paroextine (Paxil), amitriptyline (Elavil), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), imipramine (Tofranil), clomipramine (Anafranil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and phenelzine (Nardil), plus others. Again, do not take 5-HTP when using prescribed antidepressants.
I would recommend to stop usage of antidepressants if you would like to use 5-HTP. I would generally wait a couple of days after stopping usage before consuming your first 5-HTP capsule.
If you are willing to make the transition from antidepressants to 5-HTP, then slowly lower your doses of antidepressants until you feel comfortable to stop taking them.
Do not just abruptly stop taking your antidepressants and jump on 5-HTP. After you have slowly stopped to take your antidepressants, then it is safe to start consuming your 5-HTP.
I recommend this transition from prescribed antidepressants to 5-HTP because you are transitioning to an all natural, pure product that has the same benefits without side effects.
My Experience With 5-HTP
It’s been around 8 months since I have started using 5-HTP and I can for sure say that I have a definite mood improvement. I do believe I am at a positive mental state which is amazing considering how rough my lows were.
5-HTP has allowed me to gain the motivation and dedication I need to do daily tasks such as exercising, cooking, eating healthy, and school work.
I love to exercise and exercise around 3-4 times a week now. I stay away from junk food and eat healthy food groups.
Overall, I have become a lot more productive while taking 5-HTP.
Not only have I become more productive, but I want to be productive. I have the drive to do things now. I have the drive to make a difference. I want to ace that test. I want to help those in need. I want to be there for people. I want to exercise.
These are desires that I had no interest in before taking 5-HTP and taking necessary actions to combat my depression.
I would also like to suggest that it was not fully 5-HTP that allowed me to combat my depression.
To ultimately treat your depression, you are going to have to incorporate a variety of life-style changes. Do not just rely on 5-HTP.
Of course 5-HTP is a massive help in getting there. Think of 5-HTP as your mood enhancer, the chemical that gives you the happiness to actually do things.
It is ultimately your fist building block or stepping stone. Then, it is up to you to act on those things. Change your diet. Exercise. Think only about the present and how it will be positive.
Do not linger in the past. Do not care what people think. Do you and be yourself. Take the risks you wanted to take before. Help others and stay away from negative, toxic people.
Get a good night’s sleep. Fix your appetite. Connect with others. It is all very possible and depression is extremely treatable.
Other Activities To Get You Started
If you find yourself experiencing depression, then I would also like to recommend doing other things.
The four greatest things I did to combat my depression were:
- consuming natural supplements such as 5-HTP
- incorporating exercise daily
- incorporating a healthy diet
- being open about my depression (talk therapy)
I have first hand experience with this mental illness and I want you to know that I’ve been though the rough times. I have hit rock bottom before. It is okay not to be okay, but we must do something about the situation.
Start with 5-HTP. That is what I did. I honestly had no clue at first that there were natural supplements or vitamins you could take to increase serotonin levels.
I thought that the only way to access any form of serotonin uptake would be by prescribed antidepressants – a road I did not want to go down.
Remember I mentioned making life-style changes above, well that’s what you have to do. Do you eat unhealthy right now? How do you feel after consuming junk food? Change this. Change your diet. Consume your vitamins. Consume your healthy food groups.
I would also like to stress exercising. Exercise regularly. It doesn’t have to be a full hardcore workout unless you want that.
Even just going for a light jog or a walk during the day counts. Exercise lifts your spirits and releases endorphins, satisfying and rewarding chemicals in your brain. Your brain and body will feel much more energized and satisfied by exercising.
This will also give you motivation and dedication to complete your daily tasks.
On a final note, I would like to stress that depression is extremely treatbale if you allow it to be. Again, there is no set cause or not set cure for depression. This disease works in weird and wondrous ways and affects everyone differently varying from factor to factor.
Nonetheless, we can all take steps to reduce the symptoms of depression and try to eliminate the disease completely.
Start with 5-HTP. You cannot go wrong by just giving it a try. I fully attest to its benefits and my only regret is that I wish I jumped on it earlier.
If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to connect, leave me a comment below.