Patients with the major depressive disorder experience various problems with mood, ability to take care of responsibilities, sleep, and overall well-being.
Many symptoms can even negatively affect cognition by causing imbalances in neurotransmitters. Because of this, people search for supplements that may help reduce the impact of these issues on the brain.
One of the compounds that many people seek for these potential benefits is l-theanine, and there is a good reason for that because it offers a lot of positive effects.
Still, there are some concerns to keep in mind to determine if l-theanine can help your depressive signs and to do so safely.
Does L-Theanine Help With Depression?
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea leaves, and when the amino acid is ingested, it influences neurotransmitters in the brain. Primarily, l-theanine affects serotonin, dopamine, and GABA and has properties similar to l-glutamic acid (1).
These different chemicals offer different beneficial results. The calming effects are the most pronounced outcomes of l-theanine derived from tea leaves.
Studies indicate that these results are caused by decreased stimulation glutamate receptors and an increase in GABA that promotes relaxation and an anti-stress effect (2).
This calming effect can indirectly help patients with major depressive disorder because the decreased activity at glutamate receptors while mimicking l-glutamic acid helps lower stress and anxiety that can contribute to worsened symptoms of depression.
L-theanine can help you relax, regardless of your state of mind and perspective.
The relaxation caused by l-theanine intake may also help with sleep quality, and depressive traits are often associated with poor sleep quality, making the condition worse.
Thus, lack of sleep is related to inadequate brain health, and poor sleep also contributes to anxiety, stress, and other mental health problems.
Consequently, how l-theanine encourages better sleep can benefit anyone, particularly those suffering from depressive experiences.
Does L-Theanine Improve Mood?
When the helpful amino acid l-theanine crosses the blood-brain barrier, it can also lower blood pressure and increase dopamine and serotonin. These two substances in the brain enhance the calming effects, boosting mood and awareness.
Studies show heightened dopamine levels caused by l-theanine supplementation are likely to make it easier to perform regular duties, and taking the compound can help you achieve enjoyment and pleasure in your interactions and activities.
One study shows that this benefit is likely caused by the multitude of unique properties that l-theanine offers (3).
Also, serotonin has a significant impact on mood, and taking l-theanine can help reduce the likelihood of low levels that correlate with depression.
Combined with the anti-stress effect, this can sometimes be enough to improve sleep quality, boost energy, increase focus, improve cognitive function, and promote a cheerful disposition.
In turn, taking l-theanine could reduce the impact that depressive indications are causing on well-being.
However, it is essential to understand that taking the supplement can take a while to develop a profound benefit, but in the meantime, it can help you get through the day with better cognition and focus.
The stressful thought line associated with depressive conditions often prevents optimal cognitive function, and l-theanine can, at the very least, offer a beneficial calming effect on the brain to improve the ability to make it through the day without losing focus.
Can L-Theanine Cause Depression or Make It Worse?
L-theanine is very unlikely to cause any severe adverse reactions on its own that would contribute to or cause depressive disorders.
Research does not show any apparent reason for these types of negative effects, but there are scattered personal reports of l-theanine dosage worsening depressive traits.
Because of this, if you have a mental health condition, it is always suggested that you speak with a doctor before taking a supplemental product containing l-theanine.
In addition, some of the negative experiences associated with l-theanine may be caused by l-theanine dosage being too high or rapid discontinuation, as well as changes in blood pressure.
That being said, the impact of l-theanine for depression is incredibly more likely to be favorable than negative.
Of course, it can make you sleep more than usual, and excessive sleep is sometimes a sign of depressive disorders, but generally, the impact on the brain, sleep, and outlook is positive from l-theanine.
L-Theanine Dosage For Depression: How Much To Take?
Dosages for l-theanine can vary greatly depending on your specific use. Even for depressive traits, there are different dosages to keep in consideration.
If you are looking to relax or for mental clarity, optimistic outlook, and nootropic qualities or to study, it is best to start with a small dose of 200 mg l-theanine.
Some evidence shows that 100 mg of l-theanine may be sufficient for many people.
The 100 to 200 mg dose can be taken two or three times daily, and if you feel like you cannot relax with 200 mg, you can increase by 50 mg each day up to 400 mg. However, higher doses should be limited to two times per day.
For better sleep, you can take 300 to 500 mg l-theanine in a single dose. This amount of l-theanine should allow you to sleep within about an hour after ingestion.
For extreme insomnia, one study shows that taking l-theanine supplements may prevent irritability and anxiousness even at low doses but may need to be combined with other supplements to induce sedation and drowsiness.
L-Theanine and Antidepressants: What You Should Know
There are no known interactions between antidepressant drugs and l-theanine. In addition, only a few drugs cause adverse results when combined with l-theanine.
Therefore, even though both antidepressant drugs and l-theanine alter similar neurotransmitter concentrations, it is unlikely to contribute to negative reactions. However, it is still good to talk to a doctor before trying l-theanine when taking prescriptions.
Since it does cross the blood-brain barrier to promote relaxing qualities, many people use l-theanine to help calm thought processes after using stimulant drugs commonly prescribed for ADHD.
Taking an l-theanine supplement can help reduce the side effects of stimulant drugs and make them weaker or lose effectiveness by counteracting both the negative and positive aspects of pseudoephedrine.
Also, l-theanine does not cause many side effects, but few are to be aware of. The most common potential negative reactions of l-theanine include nausea, irritability, lethargy, drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches.
L-Theanine can be an excellent option for those struggling with poor mental health, whether associated with an anxiety disorder or a depressive condition.
This is because l-theanine can alter chemicals in the brain that are associated with positivity and tranquility.
Plus, l-theanine and supplemental products containing l-theanine are very safe for most healthy adults, with very uncommon negative reactions.
Because of the prominently positive results, if you are struggling with a depressive disorder, then it may be worth your time to try out l-theanine.