5-HTP for Depression, Anxiety and Low Serotonin

| Modified on Sep 10, 2021

Sleep, Depression and Meditation
Posted by Blue Star (Tennessee) on 05/10/2018
5 out of 5 stars

Poor sleep really impacts your quality and outlook on life. For years I have had poor sleep due to back pain, inflammation and was never able to go into deep sleep. Every year about January and February I would have acute SAD.

I found 5 HTP and am really impressed at how my life has improved. I take 2 50mg capsules about an hour before I go to bed. I finally go into a deep sleep and I awake in the morning loving life again. I feel refreshed. I feel like 5 HTP has restarted my serotonin and melatonin production. I feel that I don't need to take every night because now I naturally start to get sleepy, but I still do anyway. My depression is much improved.

Several things I noticed taking 5 HTP. Less is better. Start at 50 mg's. Too much will cause vivid dreaming. Sometimes I am aware that my short term memory is impacted. I am observing if 5 HTP makes a learning issue worse or better and how it effects my memory.

I am an energy healer and meditate on a regular basis. Serotonin and melatonin are produced by the pineal gland, the gland of enlightenment. I am finding that my inner experiences and process seem to be highly supported by 5 HTP.

Posted by Jose (Leominster, Massachusetts) on 02/20/2009
5 out of 5 stars

I work as a psychotherapist, the 5-htp, and the St. John Wort work wonderfully in a lot of my patients (I can not prescribe it, but I work with an open mind psychiatrist who takes care of it.) However, the low mood normally comes with other issues, like not including healthy foods in their diets or the lack of very important nutrients in the diet (e.g., vegetables, fruits, etc, that grow up in poor soils,) bad sleeping habits, intoxication with chemicals, lack of exercise, NOT enough SUN, the lack of vitamine D, causing what is know as "Seasonal Depression." It is very common in people living in areas with harsh winter, not caused by the cold weather, but the lack of sun (Who would want to a sunbath in winter??? ;) You use 5-HTP because you can not sleep? Are you sure is not because the lack of Vitamin B12? (common if you are vegetarian and you do not take care of it.) and check for the other >70 causes...

It's better if we avoid to treat "the symptom," and look for a more comprehensive approach.

Just trying to fix the "depression issue" the same way as the allopatic medicine does, but substituting the drug with something "natural" to get rid of the symptoms on the long run will not be very helpful. If you are taking the 5-htp, first know the CAUSE OR CAUSES of your problem. (e.g., does it occur every time you eat some type of food? Are you taking "zero calories food." that normally have Sucralosa -Splenda, a very potent poison? Are you just Dehydrated? Caffeinated beverages like green tee and coffe could cause it, because they are potent diuretics if you are not taking enough water, etc.

Another issue is that your body needs to adjust to the doses. All the SSRI (Selective Serotonin Rehuptake Inhibitor,) the drugs used to treat depression by allopatic medicine, every time it starts with a very low dosis: E.g., Prozac (Fluoxetine) with 10 mg per day. After one week, if necessary, they increased to 20 mg per day, until a maximun dosis of 80 mg per day.

The same with the 5-htp, You can start with a lower doses of 50 mg per day and increase it until a maximun of 300 mg. But, please, when treating the depression you need to take in account all other factors that could be affecting your mood. We were brain-washed by the Big Pharma that for every symptoms we need to pop-in a pill to fix-it.

In the internet you can find the 5-htp about $10 a bottle (a Zoloft prescription for a month, will cost you more than $700 !!!!) so if you really need to take it, do it after you help yourself taking in account all other factors that could be affecting your mood/headaches.

God Bless You

As the last comment, we can find more than 50 causes for depression: Social issues, espiritual issues -e.g.: guilty feelings; genetic, nutricional deficiences, life style, lack of sun, bad breathing habits or lack of pure air, exercise, dehidratation, intoxication buy heavy metals or chemicals and so on (by the way, is very UNCOMMON that a mental health provider will check all possible causes.)

5-HTP Side Effects
Posted by Denise (Us) on 12/17/2018 53 posts

I can't agree with this more, especially about the treating symptoms instead of looking at possible causes. For the first time in my 66 years, I am looking at my whole food intake, and exercise habits. I've changed a lot already, and honestly, for me it isn't about living longer, it's just about feeling as good as possible, and doing the things I love for as long as I am here.

I am starting to be hooked on healthy, food choices, and if I feel I am not getting enough of some nutrient, I am supplementing with vitamins and minerals. I don't expect to cure every single issue I have, but many of those issues are improving and that is enough for me to stick with this. Love EC, and the people here that share what they've tried, and what they've been successful with. I know we all are unique so I also never expect something to work for me, or at least not at the same dose etc.

Posted by Gail (Branson, Missouri) on 01/20/2012
5 out of 5 stars

My husband got the 5-HTP from reading about it in Ray and Terry's info... I can get grouchy, so I took some to see the effect. I took 100mg in the morning and I forgot about it as I was busy that day... Then later in the day when I was doing school work with my kids and my son didn't want to focus and was acting up, which usually upsets me, I felt calm and I noticed it... It was nice... I guess you could say it took the edge off of my irritation?? I had no side effects other than vivid dreams but not bad dreams... I think it depends on your brain chemistry and particular problems.

I know a friend who had severe depression for years who recently cured it with ACV and some slight diet changes, so go figure. My husband tends toward anxiety and he likes what it does for him, but he does not take it every day, more like every other. We have learned over the years often with anxiety/depression you need magnesium and homeopathic meds are often good for this or epsom salt baths.

5-HTP Side Effects
Posted by Anonymous (Oz, Middle Earth, ) on 07/11/2013

Hello, not insult to anyone but when you get vitamins from Walgreens, Walmart etc. it is not good for your health. Walmart's food is GMO (Genetically Modified=cancer etc. Do your research and look at fillers in vitamins. GMO foods are banned everywhere but in the U.S, why because MONSANTO is here. Do your research. MONSANTO cannot be sued in the U.S. i.e., MONSANTO PROTECTION ACT passed this year. Our organic farmers crops are being poisoned and sterilized by their chemicals. GMO foods and their side affects are lethal. Support your local farmers. Dr. Mercola and Dr. Andrew Lessman are the best vitamins (natural) I've found. Lessman's are even grown in solar powered nurseries etc. Please do your research. <3 and Peace to all of you.

Posted by Denisse (Long Beach, CA, USA) on 05/07/2009
5 out of 5 stars

5-HTP for depression. This little pill did wonders for me. I had been feeling depressed for around a month due to heavy family problems. When I finally put all my symptoms together (oversleeping, hopelessness, sadness, emotionally unstable) I instantly came to this site. Cold showers did not appeal to me at all; I live in sunny CA and still get cold. I ordered the pills and thankfully they came the next day. I take one or two (depending on how I am doing) 100mg pills a day. My mood has definitely improved and I am finally returning to my normal self. They also seem to have reduced my terrible headaches. I recommend 5-HTP to all!

Insomnia, Anxiety, Headaches
Posted by Stefanie (Minden, Louisiana) on 07/17/2008
5 out of 5 stars

I found this remedy when I was looking for herbal remedies for my daily headaches. I found 5-HTP. According to the article,some of the things it helped with are insomnia, headaches, anxiety & depression. I thought could it be? I immediately went to my husband to show him what I had found because he had problems sleeping at night as well. We went a few days later to our local drug store and picked up a bottle of 50mg. 5-HTP. We had decided on the lowest dosage available in our area, upping the dosage as we went along if it was necessary.

We have only been on it for a few days now but there is a very noticeable difference. We both have been sleeping through the night and feeling more refreshed when we wake. My anxiety attacks are gone as well as my headaches. We both are much less snappish than what we were before. We haven't noticed any side effects so far.

We are taking them with a meal or a small snack and so far we have stayed at 50mg. Thanks for the very useful information that lead to this discovery!

5-HTP for Children
Posted by Charlotte (Richboro, PA)
5 out of 5 stars

My 6 year old grandson was diagnosed with "Select Mutism" 2 years ago and rather than put him on "Prozac", my daughter did some research and learned about 5HTP and chose to try it first.

He started on 50mg every night. His psychologist saw the same results with the 5HTP as children on prescribed drugs.

It's been a miracle for him. I have since then also taken it since our family seems to have anxiety problems and ADD runs in the family and it has helped very much with these problems.

I usually take 100mg to 200mg daily depending on my stress levels at the time. We are so grateful our little grandson did not have to take Prozac or a similar drug. I would highly recommend it as a first choice to try at least.

5-HTP Side Effects
Posted by Ann (Louisville, KY) on 09/10/2021
0 out of 5 stars


WARNING! I have been taking 5-HTP with Vitamin B6 (50mg) for the past month and have had serious side effects. I would take one dose in the morning with breakfast and one in the evening when I first started, but invariably would miss the second dose as I would forget to take it with my dinner. I then noticed I was having more diarrhea than normal and researched 5-HTP to find that that was a side effect. So I cut back to only taking 50mg every other day. During the early morning hours of Thursday, September 9th, I had a violent tremor outbreak that was happening over my whole body. It lasted between 45 minutes to an hour and only seemed to release when I would cough hard or yell and the reprieve only lasted a minute or so. I took off work on September 9th because I was wasted after this occurrence and slept the whole day. After returning to work today (Friday, September 10th), I again researched 5-HTP to see if there was any link and there was. Quote from draxe.com "There are some potential side effects to be aware of: indigestion and stomach problems; heartburn; nausea; vomiting; fatigue and drowsiness; sexual dysfunction; and muscular spasms and dysfunction." According to other research, these muscular spasms only happen to a select few (I'm one of the lucky ones).

I only researched 5-HTP, because I knew of no other reason why I would be having this type of tremor episode. I am on blood pressure medication and have been for years without having this type of episode before. So I am truly thinking that it has something to do with the 5-HTP. The weird thing is, I was only taking 50mg doses and just recently those were only taken every other day, so I don't think there was that much of an increase of serotonin in my system. Perhaps it's because the Vitamin B6 caused the 5-HTP to be more effective more quickly. I don't really know. I've given my doctor my observations and wait to see what she says. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up on here as I use earthclinic.com any time I am researching for natural supplements.

Posted by Neukoln (Edinburgh, Scotland, Uk) on 02/03/2013
5 out of 5 stars

I can't find the post, but someone commented that taking a lower dose of 5HTP is more effective. [It may have been on the Depression pages?] I have to agree with this. I had crippling depression, and so I had gradually increased to 300mg/day (3 x 100mg) thinking that I needed the maximum dose - because my depression was almost making me bed-ridden. But that very high dose gave me a weird anxiety, and racing heart, and I took ages to fall asleep. And I got very loose bowels too.

I am now taking 200mg. I break open one of the capsules and have 50mg under the tongue 1/2 hour before breakfast, then 100mg under the tongue 1/2 hour before dinner, and finally 50mg under the tongue 1/2 hour before bed. I feel so much better. My depression has completely gone. I feel happy. I am thinking of reducing the 100mg dinner-time dose to 50mg. But maybe when the Winter has passed.

Posted by Adam (Southern, California) on 09/26/2012
5 out of 5 stars

I am a 26 year old male who has suffered from depression and sleeping problems for years. I have been on medication such as Effexor XR, Trazodone, etc. I was also diagnosed with ADD, given a prescription of Adderall XR. Ever since I was a teen I suffered from the issue of getting too much sleep. I always felt tired. Sleeping 10 hours would result in me feeling exhausted upon waking. No amount of sleep could remedy the issue (no matter how little or how much). I enjoyed Adderall because it made me feel "Awake" and able to concentrate on my studies; However, the side-effects were too great. I recently started supplementing 100mg of 5-HTP before bed. I have been waking up in the morning naturally after 6-8 hours of sleep. The beneficial effects of 5-HTP have been a live saver for me. I feel happier, my quality of sleep has improved beyond measure, and I feel rested and refreshed in the morning. I highly recommend this to people suffering from the "too much sleep" problem. There are many who suffer in silence, give this supplement a shot!

Posted by Kristina (Beverly, Ma) on 03/25/2010
5 out of 5 stars

I used to take an Rx SSRI for seasonal depression and weight loss but after two years, my body decided it didn't want it anymore. I got anxious to the point of paranoia, I binged on sweets, and I lost the will to do much beyond sit in front of my TV/computer.

I weaned off it and discovered 5-htp. When I first began taking it, I took low doses (25 mg or 50mg) a couple times a day. It would work fine for a couple days and then I would have side effects like bone aches, sleepiness (no matter how much sleep I got), anxiety, and constant hunger. I tried taking smaller doses and found it to have no effect. Frustrated, I nearly stopped taking it.

I then found a time-release capsule of 5-htp. There is at least one company that makes it in a 100mg. It works incredibly well. I haven't felt this "normal" in a very long time. I'm awake during the day and I sleep at night, I eat normally and stop eating when I'm no longer hungry, and I'm able to handle stressful situations calmly. I honestly don't feel like I have any side effects.

I am 32 years old and female. The other things I take daily are a 'complete' vitamin, rhodiola rosea 400mg lysine 500mg, glucosamine/condroiton, fish oil, and 1000 mg of vitamin D. I've been taking all of those for years before taking 5-htp.

If you're having trouble with the 'normal' doses of 5-htp, I highly recommend trying the time release version before giving up on it entirely.

5-HTP and Zoloft
Posted by Shelby (Wilmington, Ca) on 12/22/2011

Jaime! You should look into meditation and yoga to help with your depression. Sending you lots of love and light :)

Alcohol Addiction
Posted by Jake (Middletown, New York) on 05/02/2009
5 out of 5 stars

Help to stop drinking: I have had difficulty with alcohol consumption for years, did not drink every day but when I did I did to excess.Then a friend sugessted 5-HTP which has greatly reduced my desire to drink and when I do I have a few and just get that feel that I dont want any more.I take 200mg 5-HTP at bedtime and 100mg in morning both on empty stomach. I now sleep great feel, calm and just drink socially now like those without drinking issues.

Posted by kellie (vancouver bc, canada) on 01/13/2008
5 out of 5 stars

Hi, I found 5 htp a couple years ago on the internet, looking for some thing to help my saddness and depression, so i heard about 5 htp , well i was desprite and i took 2 + 100 every day, it helped me so so much, I go off it some times because the side effects for me are, it makes me get my period more ofton , mind you i think that is when i was taking 300 mg. And also it has caused me to get itchy palms of my hand, and the back of my head . but now that iv gone down on them and taken a break for a few months,

im good . but i have to go on them because it helps me so much for depression. I have just discovered the 5 htp with 200 mg L- Ter , wow as far as I'm concerned its a bloody miracle. it changes my whole mood. Makes me very happy. But for sure one other side effect- I'not as hungry when im on it and i dream more vividly. But as far as iI' concerned it's a wonder drug. Let's just hope the drug companys don't take them away .

5-HTP Side Effects
Posted by Quercus (Socals) on 05/13/2014

When one reads about studies concerning either the good or bad about a supplement, it would be wise to ascertain who paid for those studies. Also, it is a good idea to look at the number of participants. While there can be a lot good info gleemed off the internet, there are also a lot of information that is untrue, out of context or without full disclosure. Some websites promote the image of being impartial, when they are not.

As with any prescription anti-depressant, it would be wise when taking a new supplement to start out slowly.

Anxiety, Depression
Posted by Susanne (Indianapolis, In) on 11/30/2007
5 out of 5 stars

I began taking 5-HTP for depression and anxiety and sleeplessness during a very emotionally stressful breakup. I have Not had an anxity attack since 3-07 which I had suffered from off and on for several years. I sleep so much better. I am able to think clearer and stay focused and concentrate so much better as well as improved my memory. I am thankful for this. My dr. wanted to put me on Wellbutrine. NO Thank U!

5-HTP for Teenagers
Posted by Dana (Sheridan, Wyoming) on 12/19/2013

Would 5-HTP be advisable for my 16 year old son? He seems to be tired a lot, gets frequent headaches, looks to have low energy (except when he is with his friends and has bouts of anxiety. He has a huge homework load from AP classes but handles his homework well. I worry about his headaches and anxiety. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

5-HTP for Teenagers
Posted by Mike 62 (Denver, Colorado) on 12/19/2013

Dana: I had what your son has when I was his age, only I was a lot worse. 40 years later I learned that cooked regular food does not have any enzymes, humic acids that activate nutrients, xeronines that activate proteins, sulfur, or trace minerals. Do your son a big favor and feed him raw organic, grassfed, and superfood concentrates, and make home made water kefir. You can watch raw food videos for some great ideas.

5-HTP for Teenagers
Posted by Mama To Many (Tennessee, Usa) on 12/20/2013

Hi Dana,

It is worrisome to see a teen work hard and be tired and have headaches! I have seen this too with my sons.

One thing is that teens do need more sleep for a time during the mid-teen years. I have worried when it appears my teens need more sleep than their younger siblings. Teens often do not get adequate sleep and often get irregular sleep. But between school and social lives etc, it can be hard to get them to sleep enough. Does he have trouble sleeping? Sleepytime tea before bed actually helps a lot for many, if so. I don't know that I would start with 5-HTP, I don't know much about it. But others may have another thought on this.

I agree with Mike that getting him some concentration nutrition is important. Teens are growing and need extra nutrition. Unfortunately, they are often not getting a very good diet, especially if they are consuming fast food, energy drinks, caffeine, etc. In fact, MSG (in fast food or processed food), processed sugar, and energy drinks can all cause headaches and anxiety.

Most of us are iodine deficient. A drop of Lugol's iodine daily, or a kelp tablet (not as much iodine, but still helpful to some.) might be helpful. Low iodine affects energy poorly. Also, daily vitamin C and D and B complex would be good. I did this for my son who is 17 and it did make a noticeable difference.

Sometimes a few simple changes will help. Sometimes it might be more complex. An underlying virus could cause be involved and then I would consider Dave's colloidal silver plan.

Keep us posted on what you try and how it is going. If the first things you try don't work, EC posters will likely have some more ideas for you!

~Mama to Many~

Restores Serotonin Levels
Posted by Christy (Portland, Or) on 09/17/2010
5 out of 5 stars

It's fairly common amongst users of psychedelic drugs known to effect serotonin receptors and levels (MDMA, LSD, etc. ) to use 5-HTP to restore serotonin levels. I've found that it noticibly helps myself and have seen it gain a lot of popularity over the last few years. It'd be interested to see legitimate research done.

Posted by Kristina (Beverly, Ma) on 04/03/2010

I'm sorry for the delay in my response - I take the 5htp once a day at about 10:30am. If I took it immediately upon waking, I'd probably take two a day... but taking it at that hour, I only need one.

I usually feel pretty good all by myself in the mornings.

5-HTP and Zoloft
Posted by Bee (Anon, Anon) on 03/15/2010

If you do take 5-HTP and Zoloft, there is a chance that your serotonin levels will rise too high. Also, realize that there is a chance of withdrawal as you wean yourself off of Zoloft. I would consult with a medical professional to help you wean off the Zoloft gradually, to ease any withdrawal. I used 5-htp to help wean off Paxil(another SSRI)- I'm at a half dose now, but not trying to reduce it any right now. I had really severe withdrawal so it may be better to give your system a break before starting the 5-htp. At least in my experience weaning off is really hard and it's important to take care of yourself and have the support of someone to help you get through it.

5-HTP and Zoloft
Posted by Kimbies (Omaha, Nebraska) on 03/26/2010

regarding the question of taking 5HTP with Zoloft. As long as you have a window of over 8-10 hours between taking the Zoloft and 5HTP it should not be a problem. Many people successfully are on both just not at the same time in the day as to avoid Seratonin overload.

Side Effects of 5-HTP
Posted by Sheryn (Milwaukee, Wi) on 04/17/2010

Susan and others...I noticed while researching several options to treat low-level depression, that many caution against using if your depression has a bipolar (manic) component. My guess is that increasing serotonin in that instance leads to the manic activity and irritability (depressed mood manic energy me = one serious crabby-butt, lesson learned with an ill-fated combo of stimulants for attention deficit).

The solution for you may lie in working with other parts of your brain chemistry. Maybe see what folks are recommending for bipolar/cyclothymia.

Posted by Chicagorock (Chicago, Il) on 03/06/2011

Hi patricia
you might try neuroassist. it's a mix of htp-5 with other co-factors that you need in balance. they say that htp-5 alone with put your other neurotransmitters out of whack, here is their web site www.neuroassist.com/. my therapist said that her clients are doing much better with neuroassist. hope you feel better, patricia, good luck.

5-HTP vs L-Tyrptophan
Posted by Peggy (Loveland, Co) on 07/15/2010
5 out of 5 stars

My understanding is that 5-HTP is the intermediate biochemical in the body between tryptophan and serotonin. Tryptophan is in some foods like turkey and Brazil nuts, and our bodies turn it into 5-HTP, which is then turned into serotonin. L-tryptophan was the supplement version of tryptophan, but apparently had some unpleasant side effects so it was pulled. www.5-HTP.org has some good info about it. I have had good luck with 100 mg of 5-HTP on an empty stomach about an hour before bedtime. I sleep more restfully and am happier when I wake up. I understand it's good to start with 50 mg and see if that works, and add more if needed. If I run out and don't get more for a few days, I start having more insomnia and sadness within a few days. Also, it took a few days to take effect, but has been well worth it and no side effects.

5-HTP + Rhodiola
Posted by S. B. (Louisville, KY) on 01/18/2008
5 out of 5 stars

Just wanted to echo the positive experiences reported here. After a bit of internet research, I kind of guessed at a regimen that might work for me, which is one 250mg rhodiola capsule before breakfast, one before lunch, and then 50mg 5-HTP before bed. In fact I found this site because I Googled "5-HTP" and "rhodiola" to see if there was any danger in taking them both, but I see several of you have also come up with a similar plan. Very assuring, and I have to say I felt a bit of triumph for having arrived at the same conclusion that others have made of my own accord.

Anyway, I've been taking it for a short while and I am still flabbergasted at how effective it is. I really just can't get over it. I could feel the effects after the very first dose of rhodiola. Not only did it improve my mood, it made me feel, well, happy! And it improved my personality. Low seratonin levels were impacting my life in many negative ways but now I am a new person.

Also it seems to have eliminated my morning headaches and neck stiffness, but I can't say whether that is attributed to the rhodiola or the 5-HTP. From what I've read it may likely be the 5-HTP.

However as others have stated, I would take caution in the dosage of rhodiola. I have found that if I take the afternoon dose too close to the morning dose, I do become a bit jittery and restless. Still happy--not nervous--but jittery and restless nonetheless.

Rhodiola is obviously powerful stuff and I'm sure it's not for everyone, but if you are the type of person that it can benefit, then like the others here that have reported positive experiences, I think you'll be astounded as to how effective it can be.

5-HTP Side Effects
Posted by Jillery (North Carolina (nc)) on 11/24/2013 89 posts

All this information goes to show how differently we all are and all can react to different supplements. There is not just one cure all for depression. Look at the book Nutrition Power and it discusses the different types of depressions. My holistic psychiatrist suggested I read it. I weaned myself off psych meds about 8 years ago using the TrueHope site and vitamins. I have been off meds but have not been taking supplements or meditating like I should have. I went into a large depression after losing my job (situational depression)-- I found this new psychiatrist and I am taking multi vits, omega 3's, D, aminos along with additional 5HTP and GABA. It seems I am serotonin lacking as the last two supplements got me around the corner. But everyones system is vastly different. Best wishes. I get most of my vitamins on Amazon-- the better brands.

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