How Does a Bad Mood Show Up?Everything in our brain leaves a biochemical signature. If you are aroused, hungry, or irritated, there will be a clear chemical sign in the brain -- if only you were strapped to an fMRI machine to take a look.Even without fMRI brain scans, it is possible to see how unique each brain is and the variety of reasons one develops a bad mood. For some people, a poor mood is a result of too little GABA (a brain chemical utilized for relaxation and feelings of calmness). For other people a bad mood is simply a byproduct of overstimulation (perhaps from stimulants and smart enhancers!)Yet others have a constant state of poor mood due to childhood or early trauma, which creates a constant underlying state of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Environments of Poor MoodWe have evolved in a completely different environment than the one where we currently exist. The Paleo movement has illuminated these dietary shortcomings, but the same holds true for all aspects of our lifestyle.Whereas we used to be highly tribal, social creatures, who spent lots of time in the sun and nature, we are now cubicle bound, individualistic, and generally living in concrete minefields.The best nootropics for mood and stress relief cannot replace many of the things we are lacking in our environment. For example, there is clear evidence that vitamin D (a vitamin from sun exposure specifically) helps to regulate the synthesis of serotonin, which is a brain chemical associated with our state of mind and mood.Social interaction is key for certain brain chemicals. Oxytocin, a bonding chemical only found in humans and bonobos, results in improved feelings of mood and wellbeing. Without this bonding chemical, social isolation quickly turns to a poor mood and other mental health problems.Even if we don’t feel isolated because we are constantly connected via our phone, the level of connection we experience is much less (with less depth) than we used to.The types of relationships in our life matter too. Ensuring that the people we spend time with are generative and not draining has a huge impact on our mood.Before diving into nootropics as a tool to improve mood, try to look more deeply at the habits and environment where you are living. We may not have the ability to make it perfect, but we can make it a heck of a lot better.
Best Nootropics for Mood: Getting StartedThe human brain is a complex system, which means it is ever changing with fluctuating variables. It’s nearly impossible to assume that any one thing will do the trick, but there is solid science that in general terms, these are some of the best nootropics for mood enhancement.AshwagandhaNative to India, this Ayurvedic herb is a common mood enhancer and potent nootropic. In one 8 week trial of ashwagandha, participants found an improvement in mood compared to placebo. A deeper study looking at biochemical signatures found a 27.9% reduction in cortisol (a stress hormone). Pick up KSM-66 ashwagandha here, which is a controlled, extracted product that avoids heavy metal concerns from many Ayurvedic options. L-TheanineAn amino acid found in green tea, L-theanine is a basic nootropic that has many benefits and primarily for improved mood and relaxation. It had significant relaxation and calming effects. This is generally one of the most popular nootropics in combination with caffeine to reduce the feelings of persistent worry and fear that come from use of that popular stimulant.