5-HTP dosage for depression

In today’s world where we’re bombarded from all angles, people seek effective ways to improve their mental well-being. There are natural supplements that can combat depressive symptoms, one such we’re looking at today, it’s called 5-HTP.

TL;DR Article Summary

5-HTP dosage for depression is 150mg-300mg per day, split into 2-3 daily doses with meals. Keep in mind that 5-HTP alone won’t work for depression long-term. In fact, it can make things worse as it depletes catecholamine neurotransmitters. This is why you should always stack 5-THP with a dopamine precursor like L-Tyrosine as well as B-vitamins (for neurotransmitter synthesis) and a sulfur-containing amino acid (such as methionine or taurine).

About 5-HTP

5-HTP is a naturally occurring compound made by our body, it helps with the making of serotonin. Serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter that regulates not only your mood, but also sleep and appetite. Low serotonin is typically linked to depressive symptoms, insomnia, and anxiety.

Supplementing 5-HTP can in the cases of a person having sub-optimal serotonin levels help with:

  • Elevating mood temporarily: by boosting serotonin levels, 5-HTP helps promote a more positive mood.
  • Having better sleep: This is because serotonin plays a crucial role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, it converts to melatonin which is the sleep hormone.
  • Reducing anxiety symptoms: Anxiety tends to go hand in hand with depression. If low serotonin is one of the culprits, adding 5-HTP occasionally works to reduce nervous thoughts.

Why 5-HTP is Not the Ideal Solution

Your brain synthesizes serotonin from 5-HTP using the same enzyme that it uses for making dopamine, noreinephrine, and epinephrine. That enzyme is called L-aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (or simply AAAD).

Taking 5-HTP alone can deplete your catecholamine neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) because it overtakes dopamine at the level of AAAD enzyme synthesis. [1]

Many people report benefits after initially taking 5-HTP. After you start supplementing the recommended dosage of 5-HTP for depression (between 150mg-300mg per day), you may start to notice:

  • Improved well-being
  • Better sleep and less need for sleep
  • Brigther mood
  • Less anxiety and overthinking
  • Less hunger

However, after a couple of weeks of dosing 5-HTP every day, you may start to notice side effects. Serotonin dominance at the AAAD enzyme synthesis level results in dopamine and epinephrine depletion.

In other words? Symptoms of lethargy, brain fog, headaches, and even depression, ironically, may start to creep in.

People who report success with using 5-HTP long-term stack it with L-Tyrosine (dopamine precursor) and B-vitamins (for neurotransmitter synthesis), and only use it as needed – not every day.

Those with bad 5-HTP experiences often don’t know why they’ve reacted badly. One likely scenario is their depression was catecholamine-related (dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline). Boosting serotonin with 5-HTP only made catecholamine levels go even lower.

WARNING! Never take 5-HTP with an antidepressant medication. Doing so puts you at risk of Serotonin syndrome which can be fatal. [2] Talk to your doctor before using 5-HTP, especially if you’re on any medication.


  1. Hinz M, Stein A, Uncini T. APRESS: apical regulatory super system, serotonin, and dopamine interaction. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2011;7:457-63. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S22667. Epub 2011 Aug 5. Retraction in: Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2020 Dec 16;16:3123. PMID: 21857786; PMCID: PMC3157489.
  2. https://froemkelab.med.nyu.edu/surgery/content?ChunkIID=21620#:~:text=5%2DHydroxytryptophan%20(5%2DHTP,%2C%20S%2DAdenosylmethionine%20(SAMe)&text=Based%20on%20one%20case%20report,by%20too%20much%20serotonin%20activity.

Nashua Valley Team

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