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5HTP for Depression and Anxiety

Depression is a condition related to inadequate amounts of Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in a person’s brain.  Depression can be caused by tragic circumstances in life or it may be simply due to a biological imbalance.  In the latter case, heredity is often involved.  Depression, being a chemical problem, requires a chemical cure.  Just like positive self-talk will not cure a diabetic, it will not suffice for someone with depression either.  Medication for depression is needed.

Medication for Depression

There are many different types of medication for depression.  The most common type hinders the breakdown of Serotonin, resulting in more of that neurotransmitter being present in the brain.   The most frequently prescribed of these drugs is Sertraline hydrochloride (Zoloft).  Other depression medications include Paxil, Effexor, Serzone, Celexa and others.  The side-effects with these drugs are numerous and can be severe.  Serzone has been discontinued as it caused liver failure in some patients.  Other side effects for these antidepressant medications include stomach pain and headache.  Effexor can cause hemorrhaging.  Paxil can increase suicidal tendencies.  Celexa and Zoloft tend to leave one feeling flat – emotionless.  No pain or joy.  Just dampened.  These drugs are hard on the system and potentially, very dangerous.  Yet depressed individuals need chemical help.  What is to be done?

5HTP Antidepressant

5HTP5HTP is sold at health food stores.  It is considered a food supplement, not a medication.  The compound 5-Hydroxytryptophan is what your body uses to make Serotonin.  If you take 5HTP, your body produces more Serotonin.  One side effect of 5HTP is a headache, which is present only for the first few days.  Some people have trouble sleeping but others sleep more easily when taking 5HTP.  If you find it makes you sleepy, take it at night but, if it makes you feel wakeful, take it in the morning.  Unlike prescription medication that takes up to two weeks to make you feel better, with 5HTP you will notice a difference in your mood the very day that you take it!

5HTP Dosage

With prescription medication for depression, you are told exactly how much to take.  With 5HTP, you need to decide how much will be right for you.  Start with 50mg/day for adults and gradually increase the 5HTP dosage until the symptoms of depression fade away.

Studies have been conducted on the safety of 5HTP.  There is very little data to indicate 5HTP could be stressful for the liver or kidneys.  However, injected 5HTP has caused kidney damage in rats [1].  It is uncertain if massive doses of 5HTP could lead to liver or kidney damage in humans.  It wouldn’t be advisable to take more than is needed.  One can read online of some people taking massive amounts of 5HTP with no adverse effects but it would be best to take no more than 300mg/day.

Another side effect of 5HTP is the decline of higher brain functions over time while on the drug.  This condition vanishes after two or three days without 5HTP.  To avoid this problem, periodically take days off.  Some people find using 5THP every second day is something that works for them.  Others may take the weekend off.  This taking time off from using 5HTP will also prevent the body from developing a resistance to 5HTP (so you won’t need to increase the dose).

5HTP Cure for Depression?

5HTP will cause the Serotonin levels in the brain to increase and, thus, the symptoms of depression will be alleviated.  Sometimes therapy and or lifestyle changes are also needed.  If the levels of Serotonin in the brain dropped due to life circumstances, then counseling from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or pastor is in order.  If, however, the cause is genetic in nature (your body simply does not produce enough Serotonin), then 5HTP is all that is needed.

You can fight depression and win!


Have you tried different medications and natural approaches but are still under a heavy burden of depression with no relief in sight? Depression often also has a spiritual component. Addressing the spiritual side of depression is what has finally allowed me to experience joy in my life.


1. Hirai M et al.   Biochemical studies on the mechanism of difference in the renal toxicity of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan between Sprague Dawley and Wistar rats. J Biochem (Tokyo), 1979.


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4 Responses to “5HTP for Depression and Anxiety”

  1. ashlee says:

    thanks for this article! really helpful and timely :)

  2. Manual Baresi says:

    Tryptophan is a great supplement if you want to boost your serotonin levels. ^

  3. Kirsty says:

    Hey Celesta,

    A nice, concise and very informative post about something I’ve actually had a great deal of success with.

    You’re absolutely right about the ‘one day on, one day off’ approach, like anything you have to use in moderation, especially when we’re looking to rectify a chemical imbalance in the brain like this.

    Unfortunately far too many people tend to see it as a wonder cure and think that the more you consume the better, which is simply not the case, It’s a wise step in the right direction if you’re feeling depressed, fatigued or just generally down, not a miracle cure.

    I find it especially helpful during these winter months when the weather takes a turn for the worse, sunlight is scarce and the ‘Winter blues’ start their annual creep in.

    Another great way to consume it which I find works very well is to ‘micro dose’ throughout the day. Instead of taking your whole dose in the morning, crush the tablets and add to water throughout the day bit by bit.

    It’s a little easier if you’re able to get it in powder form admittedly but if you can get it in powder form you’d require some decent digital scales to help you measure and micro dose effectively though.

    Micro dosing is a more preferable means of taking it because it is less ‘up & down’ instead being nice and consistent. I’ve found it completely eradicates any of the heavy, woolly headed side effects some people may encounter.

    I’m rambling now ha! I hope this helps :)

  4. Carmen says:


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