Natural nootropics can definitely make a huge difference to your anxiety levels.
Anxiety and depression can be caused by your environment or specific situations, but severe anxiety and anxiety disorders are often caused by imbalances with your hormones and neurotransmitters (or rather anxiety and depression can be exacerbated by these imbalances in brain chemistry).
That’s why nootropics can be so effective for countering anxiety.
While the best nootropics are best known for enhancing cognitive function in terms of memory and focus, they can also drastically improve mood by suppressing anxiety symptoms as well as the causes of anxiety themselves.
In this article, we’ll go through the best nootropics for anxiety in the world right now. We’ll explain how supplements can help with anxiety and depression, as well as what kind of effects anxiety nootropics can have on your mental health. We’ll then give you our recommended nootropic for reducing anxiety.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the term we give to the feeling of acute stress and worry that is not proportionate to your current situation. Feeling extremely panicked when you’re being chased by a grizzly bear is not what a psychologist would call anxiety.
It is certainly not anxiety disorder. But feeling as panicked as you would when being chased by a grizzly bear while talking in front of a small group is anxiety; social anxiety to be exact. Feeling that anxious while sat at home is definitely anxiety; in that case, we’re probably talking generalized anxiety disorder.
In other words, anxiety is when you feel extremely worried, anxious or stressed despite there being no good reason to feel that way. Anxiety is a mental disorder; it is something that you experience, yes, but it is also a diagnosed mental health condition with a diverse set of symptoms, manifestations, and causes.
As we’ve already alluded to, there are actually different types of anxiety.
The five major types of anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Panic Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (or Social Phobia)
Each type of anxiety has its own specific symptoms and triggers. However, they are all bound by the fact that they produce feelings of intense worry, dread, and anxiousness. Most come with similar physical symptoms too, although panic attacks obviously take the physical effects to the extreme.
Interestingly, each sub-type of anxiety disorder appears to have its own underlying neurochemistry. For instance, while all anxiety disorders respond well to benzodiazepines, some respond to serotonin reuptake inhibitors while others do not, and generalized anxiety disorder seems to respond to agonists of particular serotonin receptor types.
The neurochemistry underlying anxiety is complex; it is still being investigated by researchers as we speak.
What we can say with some confidence though is that most anxiety disorders seem to involve GABA, serotonin, and dopamine pathways.
Different types of anxiety will have different underlying causes and neurochemical signatures, but most will involve glutamate (as glutamate itself and as a precursor to GABA), glutamate receptors, and monoamine neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc.) in some way.
Symptoms of Stress & Anxiety
Anxiety is quite easy to spot, given that we all experience anxiety in some form or another at some point in our lives, normally when we are faced with a sudden threat like an incoming car, a heavy financial loss, or a stalling plane engine!
The most common immediate symptoms of anxiety are:
- Elevated heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Restricted feeling in the chest
- Light headedness
- Inability to focus
- Short-term memory loss
Chronic, lingering anxiety can have disastrous consequences for your health over the long-term. People with chronic anxiety are more likely to suffer from every chronic illness you can think of, from heart disease and cancer to depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Diseases aside, lasting nxiety can be crippling for your cognitive performance. Peolpe with chronic anxiety disorders tend to exhibit far more rapid onset of cognitive decline than normal. They have worse memories, slower reaction times, and slower decision making times. This could be down to the sleep deprivation that comes with severe and acute stress.
Using Natural Supplements For Anxiety & Stress
Some plants have a long history of use as anxiolytics (anxiety suppressors) in traditional medicine or popular culture. But whole herbs and plants – whether ground into a paste or drunk as tea – can only ever have so much of an impact on your physiology.
Modern biotechnological advances have, however, opened up a whole new world of possibilities for people looking to enhance their performance and augment their physiology. Today, there are lots of high-spec, extremely potent natural nootropic products capable of simultaneously reducing stress and promoting focus, memory, and mental clarity.
Let’s take a look at the substances which actually fight anxiety and depression as proven by hard clinical evidence. The substances in this list have all been shown by good quality, peer-reviewed studies to help treat anxiety disorders, assuage anxiety symptoms, and help with the physical effects of anxiety (high heart rate, hypertension, and related health issues).
The 11 Most EffectiveNootropics for Anxiety & Stress
It’s time to go through the best natual supplements for reducing stress and anxiety. We have spent a long time trawling through the available scientific research, and these substances have the best supporting evience for use as natural anxiolytics.
Here is a list of the best natural nootropics for stress and anxiety:
- Rhodiola rosea
- Panax Ginseng
- Bacopa monnieri
Let’s go through these nootropics in more detail. In each case, we’ll explain what they do, ho they work, and what we think of the side effect risks.
Ashwagandha is one of the nootropics with a long history of use in traditional medicine, specifically Ayurverdic medicine from India. People have used ashwagandha for centuries as a sleep aid, an anti-anxiety medication, and as a libido booster. We now know that ashwagandha is actually effective in all of these use-cases.
We know from several clinical trials that Ashwagandha works by reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone; it is released when you feel you are in danger, but if you are chronically stressed, your cortisol levels can be chronically elevated. This leads to high blood pressure, fat gain, muscle atrophy, and chronic fatigue – the worst symptoms of chronic stress and anxiety. Studies show that ashwagandha consumption acutely lowers cortisol levels, which in turn lifts the symptoms of acute stress and anxiety.
Phenibut is probably the smart drug that people most closely associate with anti-anxiety effects. Phenibut is indeed the prototypical smart drug for anxiety. As a potent GABA-mimetic, Phenibut is known to act as a powerful GABA receptor agonist. This has the effect of dramatically reducing CNS activity, thereby reducing anxiety, easing bodily tension and preventing the kind of racing thoughts or overthinking associated with panic attacks.
Noopept is a pharmaceutical smart drug and an extremely powerful nootropic supplement used for the treatment of panic disorders, genralized anxiety, and social anxiety. Noopept works primarily by raising BDNF levels in the brain. BDNF is a neurotrophic factor responsible for controlling the growth, maturation and proliferation of neurons in the brain. Studies have shown that Noopept significantly raises Nerve Growth Factor and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, although the latter has the biggest effect on anxiety levels.
Raising BDNF has a number of effects on cognition, including reduced anxiety. In particular, high levels of Hippocampal BDNF is associated with decreased levels of stress and anxiety. Noopept is one of the best nootropics for anxiety because it is both an anxiolytic and broad cognitive enhancer.
Rhodiola rosea is a staple of traditional medicine in Russia and East Asia; it has been used for decades to alleviate everyday anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Rhodiola rosea is what we call an adaptogen. This means it helps to make you less prone and more robust to physical and emotional stress. In other words, it makes you more resilient and resistant to the feelings of acute stress and anxiety.
Some recent research has found that rhodiola rosea consumption also mildly stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine. This could also be part of the explanation as to why rhodiola rosea helps with anxiety. In any case, experience has proven that rhodiola rosea is an extremely reliable and effective nootropic for suppressing anxiety.
L-Tyrosine is an incredible natural nootropic and one particularly useful when you are facing a particularly stressful and grueling period of work or study. We recommend L-Tyrosine for any students, traders, programmers, or business professionals who need to burn the midnight oil and keep a lid on stress while remaining focused.
Tyrosine is a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that creates drive and motivation. Tyrosine supplementation increases dopamine levels. This is why studies have found Tyrosine improves performance in memory tests among people who are placed in intensely distracting or unpleasant situations: extreme cold, sleep deprivation, acute stress, etc. If you want to minimize anxiety while maximizing motivation and cognitive performance, Tyrosine is a must. The form of Tyrosine you use doesn’t matter, whether it is N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine or L-Tyrosine.
Nicotine is usually associated with tobacco, but this nootropic is actually found in smaller amounts in lots of common plants, such as potatoes or eggplants. While it is often assumed that nicotine is in itself dangerous, it is actually a relatively safe drug to use when isolated from tobacco (which is probably the most ridiculously harmful drug you can do).
Nicotine is extremely powerful. Just a few milligrams is enough to instantly sharpen your focus, increase alertness, boost motivation, and calm the nerves.
Nicotine primarily works by releasing norepinephrine. This is the body’s “fight or flight” neurotransmitter, although it doesn’t have the same physical effects as cortisol. Norepinephrine makes you mentally prepared for survival scenarios. It enhances every aspect of cognition that might be relevant to survival; reaction times, focus, alertness, decision making, etc. Nicotine also acts as an anxiolytic; nicotine triggers the release of dopamine which, as discussed with Tyrosine, reduces anxiety, improves mood and increase motivation.
Magnesium is often overlooked as a supplement because of its ‘basic’ nature. As a simple mineral, many people assume that it cannot possibly have a sizable physiological or mental effect. But it can and does!
Magnesium works by reducing electrical activity in the nervous system. This systemic action makes it a comprehensive anxiolytic. In simple terms, magnesium reduces the amount of electrical activity passing between your neurons. This suppresses the kind of frantic thinking that characterizes panic. The same mechanism makes it a muscle relaxant, which again helps temper the sensation of tension which accompany anxiety, stress and panic attacks.
Magnesium is also effective for lowering blood pressure and slowing heart rate. This is extremely useful, as one of the long term risks associated with anxiety disorder is an increased risk of heart attack due to the stress placed on the heart. Having high blood pressure and a near-permanently elevated heart rate also raises the chances of you having a panic attack. Magnesium can help with all of this.
L-Theanine is an amino acid. It is found naturally in green tea leaves, black tea leaves, and a few other plants in small quantities. But like L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine is far from a simple nutrient. L-Theanine has some pretty significant nootropic properties relating to stress, anxiety and depression.
Studies show that L-Theanine elevates GABA levels in the brain. This will significantly reduce CNS activity, and by extension, reduce many of the mental and physical effects of anxiety: muscle tightness, restlessness, rapid thought spiraling, intrusive thoughts, etc.
One study found that L-Theanine may inhibit glutamic acid activity, which will also reduce CNS activity in a similar way to GABA. Theanine may help reduce anxiety by modulating the negative effects of caffeine; if you have a high caffeine intake, theanine can help blunt the worst side effects.
One of the main benefits of L-Theanine is that it is very fast-acting. It rapidly crosses the blood brain barrier. Once in the brain it begins to work by raising GABA levels and inhibiting glutamic acid. This makes L-Theanine a fantastic nootropic for social anxiety, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety. It is also one of the best nootropics for depression on the market.
Panax ginseng has long been used as a natural treatment for anxiety and depression in traditional medicine. This “nootropic” does not have notable effects on the mind or cognitive performance like typical nootropics; supplementing with Panax ginseng will not provide significant cognitive enhancements. However, it does have a pronounced effect on mood, wellbeing, and mental health largely through its effect on stress and anxiety.
There is strong scientific evidence that Panax Ginseng supplementation suppresses the occurrence of psychological diseases such as anxiety and depression.
Studies have found that Panax ginseng can significantly reduce subjective feelings of anxiety and depression, promote subjective well being, and help people remain in a calm, relaxed, mentally healthy state. Supplementing with Panag ginseng on a daily basis will promote general good mood and help suppress feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety.
Bacopa monnieri is an adaptogen. This means it helps improve you ability to withstand stress. This makes it one of the best long-term guards against anxiety in all its forms. Study after study confirms this; supplementing with Bacopa monnieri on a daily basis not only results in significant improvements in memory function, but it also notably improves subjective well being and reduces reports of anxiousness, depression, and stress.
While the mechanism behind its adaptogenic effects is not fully understood, it is thought that Bacopa supplementation acutely lowers cortisol levels. Suppressing cortisol levels systemically by consistently using Bacopa monnieri can help control generalized or chronic anxiety, as well as lower the risk of panic attacks.
Citicoline is a phenomenal nootropic. It enhances short-term memory, improves memory retention, sharpens focus, reduces brain fog, and increases mental energy. For many people suffering from anxiety (especialy performance anxiety or social anxiety), Citicoline can be an incredibly beneficial tool.
Citicoline increases levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine carries out the brain’s executive cognitive functions; memory recall, retention and formation; focus and learning; muscle contraction, and speech. By enhancing all of these brain functions, Citiclonline helps eliminate both the causes of, and the side effects of, chronic anxiety.
Can Nootropics Help With Overthinking?
Overthinking is a major symptom of anxiety disorders, depression and mood disorders.
If you have anxiety, chances are you will often find yourself ovethinking social interactions. More often than not this happens when you’re lying in bed. The second you turn off the light, your brain starts analyzing all of your social interactions that day, looking for things you did wrong and reinterpreting things other people said to you.
Overthinking can also present itself as analysis paralysis. Even small decisions can be hard to make if you’re struggling with severe anxiety; all you can do is think about the negative consequences if you make the wrong choice!
Nootropics that help with overthinking are those that calm down neuron activity. In doing so, they slow down your thinking to prevent the kind of racing, intrusive thoughts that keep you awake at night.
The best nootropics for overthinking include:
- Rhodiola rosea
If you find that your anxiety makes you overthink everything and struggle to make decisions, we recommend tring one or two of the nootropics in this list to see if they can help.
Can Nootropics Stop Panic Attacks?
Using nootropics for panic attacks is a great strategy if you find yourself having panic attacks regularly but do not have a prescription for anti-anxiety medications.
Natural nootropics can be highly effective supplements for panic attacks and acute bouts of anxiety. The trick is to identify nootropics which work quickly and get to the root cause of panic attacks. In other words, you need to find nootropic supplements which quickly reduce CNS activity, suppress cortisol levels, and spike dopamine and serotonin.
Therefore, the most effective nootropics for panic attacks are:
- Vitamin B6
If you’re prone to severe panic attacks which come on quickly, we recommend taking a stack of the above listed nootropics as soon as you feel your anxiety levels building.
The Best Pre-Made Nootropic Stack For Stress & Anxiousness
The list above contains the most effective nootropics for anxiety in existence. Each substance has substantial, robust scientific backing from clinical trials, and all of them have excellent safety profiles.
But for those of you who don’t want to source individual ingredients yourself, what is the best pre-made nootropic for anxiety on the market right now?
#1 Top Nootropic Stack For Anxiety: Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro is truly an exceptional nootropic. It combines several different nootropics which enhance cognitive performance in different ways. Together, they cover learning, focus, memory, and brain health.
On top of that, Mind Lab pro delivers a comprehensive stress and anxiety-suppressing matrix of ingredients. Each serving contains large servings of ultra-bioavailable Tyrosine, Rhodiola rosea, and Theanine. Taken together, these nootropics quickly and effectively reduce the mental and physical feelings of stress and anxiety while promoting good cognitive performance.
The benefits of using Mind Lab Pro include:
- 100% natural, vegan-friendly and plant-based
- Ultra-pure and highly bioavailable ingredients
- Enhances every measure of cognitive performance
- Reduces anxiety and improves stress resistance over the long-term
- Protcts brain cells from oxidative damage and stress
No other nootropic comes close to delivering the kind of comprehensive stress and mental performance support that you get from Mind Lab Pro. At just under $45 a bottle, you can’t get better value for money elsewhere right now.
Where to buy: MindLabPro.com.
Anti-Anxiety Nootropics FAQs
Do nootropics increase anxiety?
Yes, some nootropics can increase anxiety. One of the side effects of using stimulant nootropics such as caffeine, theacrine and methylliberine is acute anxiety and panic attacks. Other natural nootropics can cause anxiety levels to rise in some people. If you find your nootropic stack is making anxiety worse, stop taking it and seek medical attention.
Does Noopept help anxiety?
Noopept is not known to cause anxiety. On the contrary, Noopept has been found to be highly effective for treating anxiety, stress and depression as well as for promoting overall good cognitive performance and brain health. Noopept should only be used to counter anxiety when prescribed by a doctor.
How does Ashwagandha help with anxiety?
Ashwagandha helps anxiety by suppressing cortisol levels. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone; it helps you escape dangerous situations, but it also causes all of the physical side effects of acute stress and anxiety. By lowering cortisol levels, Ashwagandha helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety and promote a calm, clear mind.
Which amino acid is best for anxiety?
Several amino acids have proven to help with anxiety. The most effective amino acids for lowering anxiety are Tyrosine and Theanine. The former boosts dopamine levels, improving mood and reducing the brain fog caused by panic. The latter reduces overthinking, lowers blood pressure, and counters the jitters caused by stimulant use. Together these amino acids can drastically lower anxiety levels.
Can L-Theanine cause more anxiety?
Theanine is not thought to cause more anxiety, even at large doses. Clinical trials show that increasing intake of theanine tends to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety. Cases where L-Theanine supposedly increases anxiety are often attributable more to caffeine than theanine.
Does GABA stop panic attacks?
Nootropic substances which bind to GABA receptors or stimulate GABA production will produce a calming effect and help prevent panic attacks. Phenibut and Theanine increase GABA receptor binding in different ways, and both can be said to be excellent nootropics for preventing panic attacks as well as anxiety more broadly.
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Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.