5htp

Discussion in 'Self Improvement' started by frankied, Mar 29, 2016.

  1. frankied

    frankied Fapstronaut

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    Anyone who has experience with using 5htp against depression ?

    I see alot of reviews on the internet where people say it has cured there depression, people who were already using it for years, so i am curious.
     
  2. Alex10s

    Alex10s Fapstronaut

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    Personally, i have not used it...
     
  3. Theshadowe

    Theshadowe Guest

    I have used St John's wort for several years. It has worked pretty well for me (moderate depression). It works pretty much like the 5htp, it increases the serotonin levels. Recently discovered the St John's is interacting with other meds so have had to quit it. As quickly as I wean it out of my system I plan on trying the 5htp. Have heard many good things on it.
    Good luck!
     
  4. JesusGreen

    JesusGreen Fapstronaut

    Part 1: 5-HTP and Serotonin

    I'd be a little skeptical of 5-HTP personally, simply based on how it works. It's not a drug that boosts serotonin, it is the direct precursor for serotonin. 5-HTP itself is converted into serotonin in the body.

    Now that all sounds well and good right? Well the issue here is that serotonin is quickly eliminated from the body by MAO (Monoamine Oxidase). With a drug that increases serotonin, the change can be constant, with more and more serotonin being released - or its reuptake being inhibited, over a long period of time. With 5-HTP, as soon as it's all metabolised into Serotonin (which will happen very quickly), it's already on its way out.

    So yes 5-HTP will increase your serotonin levels by a small amount for a few hours. That's it though. Your body is also quick at maintaining homeostasis adapting to any outside changes that mess with neurotransmitter or hormone levels, so if taken every day for a long period of time, your serotonin system will start to down-regulate to make the extra serotonin less effective, so that things go back to the way they were. At that point you'll be taking 5-HTP, but it'll only be bringing you back to a normal level of serotonergic effects, unless you increase the dosage.

    What'd be far more effective is achieving a similar effect that stays stable and brings a steady but small increase of serotonin throughout the whole day. Your best bet for that is to ensure you're consuming plenty (but not excess) protein, as one of the compounds found in protein is L-Tryptophan. L-Tryptophan is converted by the body into 5-HTP, but at a slower rate meaning that you'll be getting a gradual flow of new serotonin throughout the day rather than a few hours peak levels.

    L-Tryptophan in Protein alone won't do the trick though, and at this point you want to make sure you're getting plenty of carbs in your diet. Carbohydrates trigger insulin release, which causes a more favourable ratio of L-Tryptophan to undergo the L-Tryptophan -> 5-HTP -> Serotonin pathway in the brain. In short, if you eat plenty of carbs, you'll have higher serotonin levels all day.

    TL;DR: Eat plenty of protein, and lots of carbs, for a better effect than 5-HTP.

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    Part 2: The Reality of Depression

    With the rise of SSRI medication, the serotonin theory behind depression quickly took hold. Serotonin is widely touted as the happiness chemical. In reality though, this is not painting a very accurate picture of the neurotransmitter. A boost in serotonin alone, will make you more calm and relaxed, sometimes even sleepy. You'll crave human interaction more, and feel more comfortable in conversation. It won't make you happy on its own though, and a complex cocktail of neurotransmitters and hormones are required to make someone feel truly happy.

    Some chemicals that play a part in making you happy:

    - Serotonin, we just discussed this one. While alone, it won't make you "happy" as such, it'll make you more relaxed, better at handling stress, better in social situations, and life will feel easier on you. Serotonin also plays a role in modulating some of the side effects of excess dopamine and norepinephrine, allowing you to have higher dopamine and norepinephrine levels without so many issues. Too little will make you stress easily, unsociable, and feeling disconnected from others. Too much will make you feel sick, have hot flushes, and in severe cases can kill you.
    - Dopamine, yep the one we've often seen demonised because of its role in addictive behaviour (including P addiction), is actually a vital core component of the brain chemistry that keeps us happy. Too low dopamine will result in you feeling drowsy, sluggish, unable to think clearly, lack confidence, and feel generally lethargic and depressed. Too high dopamine will make you engage in compulsive and addictive behaviour, and in extreme cases can even lead to psychosis (hallucinations, etc). The key is ensuring you have enough dopamine to function, but aren't pumping yourself full of too much of it via unhealthy influences.
    - Norepinephrine & Epinephrine, even if you're not familiar with brain chemistry this name might ring a familiar bell to you, yes epinephrine, the stuff given to people undergoing allergic reactions. In England these two are known as "Noradrenaline" and "Adrenaline" respectively. Yes, that adrenaline rush, is a rush of these chemicals. Too much will cause anxiety, jitters, inability to sleep or stay calm, racing thoughts, panic attacks, etc. Too little will make you boring, never taking any chances, never doing new things and not pushing yourself hard enough.
    - Androgens (Testosterone, Dihydrotestosterone etc), these hormones we know from their ability to affect our growth during puberty, and for producing many of the changes in the male body that aren't usually seen in females. They also have an effect on mood, even in women. They can increase libido, make one feel more confident, outgoing, brave, strong, and leave you with more energy. Too much Testosterone will cause a similar rise in Estrogen when the Testosterone is aromatised, which can cause problems in men, but it is far more common that someone is low on Testosterone than the reverse unless they're using drugs that affect it.
    - Estrogen & It's metabolites, this is another funny one. In males: Too low estrogen causes anxiety, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, etc. Too high estrogen can cause anxiety, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, etc. Too high estrogen can also cause "gyno", a condition where men grow breast tissue. Estrogen is produced by aromatisation of Testosterone, which happens via the aromatase enzyme. Being overweight results in you having significantly more aromatase enzyme so you may end up with excessively high estrogen levels as a result, and lowered testosterone.
    - Other hormones like Thyroxin, are another thing to look at. Often cases of depression or anxiety were merely undiagnosed Thyroid problems. Upon finding and treating the problem with hormone replacement therapy the prior mood issues often resolved themselves.

    In short, if you have depression, one of the first things I'd do is get a blood test. See what your testosterone, estrogen, thyroxin etc levels are like and if anything needs treating in those departments. Go through hormone replacement therapy if there are any major problems there, or alternatively find ways to improve the situation via proper dieting and exercise.

    Next up, ensure you're eating plenty of protein, and plenty of carbs (although don't skimp on fat either, fats and healthy cholesterol play their role in testosterone production, which as we mentioned above also plays its role in your happiness).

    Lose weight. If you're overweight, set up a diet plan that places you in a ~500 calorie deficit or so. This'll allow you to lose about 1lb~ a week while still having optimal levels of all your nutrients and not feeling low energy. Losing weight will reduce the amount of aromatase enzyme you have, meaning less estrogen (and I can almost guarantee, if you're overweight your estrogen levels will be a little too high at the moment), and also more testosterone since less testosterone will be converted into estrogen. PS, when planning your diet out for losing weight, find a diet that you can actually enjoy and stick to long term - fat cells once created are never lost, and when you lose weight you're merely expelling their contents, each time you've gained weight you have more overall fat cells, so it's much easier to put that weight back on than to lose it. So don't make yourself rebound by picking a diet you can only handle short term.

    Also, if you're losing weight, check out intermittent fasting - it involves eating all your meals between midday and 8pm (or a similar 8 hour interval. Since you're asleep for 6-9 of those hours, you won't feel very hungry at all during your fast period, but will reap all the benefits, like increased Growth Hormone levels, increases Testosterone etc. Most importantly though, because you have all your daily meals in a short 8 hour window, it makes you feel more full from less food. Prior to starting intermitten fasting I felt hungry almost all day with my current diet - now I'm eating the same amount but in that 8 hour window, and I feel full all day. As a bonus, if you're working out while fasted in the mornings, you'll burn more of your calories directly from fat rather than from food you're eating, so you'll be able to lose weight a tiny bit faster.

    Ensure you're sleeping through the night and waking up with the sun. Melatonin is released in response to darkness. Melatonin makes one sleepy, drowsy, and lower energy levels. This is great if you're on a normal sleep pattern, because it means once night time hits, you're all drowsy, and sleep is easy and deep. If you're a night owl however, you still suffer the energy and mood hit from the melatonin while you're awake, and then suffer from lower quality sleep when you go to bed in the day. This'll gradually take a worse and worse toll on your mood.

    Meditate. While a large part of depression, anxiety, and other such issues is a chemical one, a significant portion of the problem is also a psychological one. We live in a world where we're bombarded by information and different stimuli all day. It can get overwhelming. Taking just 10-15 minutes a day to sit and quietly watch your breathing as you meditate can do wonders for your mood and how you feel from day to day.

    Continue NoFap. Remember what we mentioned about testosterone earlier? Well studies have found after 21 days of NoFap, testosterone levels were elevated. Also, sexual exhaustion from too frequent orgasm causes your androgen receptors to down-regulate, meaning even if you have normal testosterone levels that testosterone will have fewer places to bind and so will be less effective. Taking that NoFap break of abstinence can help allow your androgen receptors to recover, so even without the direct testosterone boost, the testosterone you already have will be able to function more effectively.

    Take Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin D3, all the B vitamins, and Calcium. All of these help with testosterone levels, particularly in people who were deficient. Many men are deficient on Zinc and this can take a significant toll and cause them to experience low testosterone. B vitamins also help with depression in general and the healthy production of serotonin etc. D3 is another one that many people are deficient in since D vitamins are mostly obtained from exposure to the sun, and with many of us spending so much time indoors, many of us don't get enough. It plays a significant role in your testosterone levels and mood.

    ...Hope this all helps! :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016

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