LEP Fitness


Nootropics and PTSD – An unlikely aid, but do they work?


PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs when a person witnesses or experiences a terrifying or mentally distressing event. Exposure to a traumatic event can differ and also have various other factors to deduce the gravity of trauma.

In most common cases, a person can experience PTSD after exposure to natural disasters, violent events, war and terror, accidents, mental health lapses, etc. 

Most people around the world experience PTSD symptoms at least once in their lifetime. On the contrary, some people experience traumatic events yet do not develop PTSD. However, recent statistics indicate that PTSD is more common among adults as well as adolescents than one estimates.

Quick facts about PTSD:

  • On average, 1 out of 13 people develop PTSD in their life at some point
  • 8 million people suffer from PTSD in a given year
  • 20% of people who experience traumatic events are likely to develop PTSD
  • 70% of adults tend to experience a tragic incident at least once their lifetime

In the United States alone, PTSD affected about 3.6 of adults during the year 2018. The gravity of PTSD is classified according to its levels: mild, severe, or moderate. Stats show that 36.6% of adults develop “severe” PTSD; 33.1% develop moderate symptoms; and 30.2% experience mild PTSD. 

Treatment for PTSD primarily includes cognitive therapy and medication prescribed by a qualified and licensed medical practitioner. While this the basic understanding which has covered ground, there are also other minds taking up the surface. The use of nootropics or smart drugs grows famous around the world, and it brings us to the question – can nootropics likely overcome PTSD in adults?

Nootropics for PTSD

Nootropics are generally known as performance-enhancing drugs, which are widely used around the world, especially among college students. These smart drugs promote wakefulness, concentration, and creativity levels.

Certain nootropic supplements may help overcome symptoms of PTSD. However, nootropics are certainly not an alternative treatment method for prescribed medication but can be taken in combination with prescription medicines. This is to act as an aid in the entire treatment process. Among nootropics, the most popular drug remains Modafinil.

Modafinil for treating PTSD: myth or reality?

Modafinil drug has undergone research and clinical trials regarding its effectiveness as a smart drug. At the same time, there has been a clinical trial to deduce Modafinil’s effectiveness in overcoming PTSD symptoms. 

Research clearly states that Modafinil proves to be a nootropic drug in alleviating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study was published in 2011, and Modafinil drug was administered to animals (rats) in a safe environment. Results show that Modafinil stimulates specific hypothalamic circuits to “promote adaptive stress responses in an animal model of PTSD.”

Other nootropics for PTSD

Apart from popular Modafinil, there are also other nootropics that may affect reducing PTSD symptoms among adults. Here is a brief overview of some nootropics:

1. L-theanine

It is a compound present in green tea leaves. L-theanine is valid for extending a relaxing sensation in people. Additionally, it can overcome the anxiety, which may be helpful for people who have PTSD. In a study, it was shown that the compound could modify the intensity of PTSD. The study was conducted on rats who were exposed to trauma, causing PTSD.

2. Ashwagandha

An ancient herbal substance with extensive nootropic properties. Ashwagandha helps improve cognitive function and mood; it can also help with battling PTSD. A clinical trial provided results relating to Aswagandha’s effectiveness against PTSD: high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.”

3. Rhodiola Rosea

Another adaptogenic herb having nootropic potential, which can help overcome mood disorders and fear. The herb can also treat PTSD. Rhodiola, as well as Ashwagandha are part of the adaptogen class of herbs, which specifically target adaptability to stress.

4. NAC

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine or NAC is an antioxidant that can help with managing PTSD. How does it work? By merely repairing oxidative damage due to stress. It is known that PTSD can cause damage to a brain’s neurons, and NAC can help prevent the damage. 

5. Phenibut

A nootropic that is famously used for countering severe anxiety symptoms can also work against PTSD. It was developed by the Soviet space program as medication to reduce anxiety among cosmonauts. In Russia, Phenibut remains popular for treating a wide array of mental health conditions, including PTSD.

In conclusion

Clinical trials and modern research provide promising insights. However, the unprecedented rise in the use of smart drugs has brought dire consequences. An average adult has little idea how to process and manage the assimilation of nootropics in daily life.

Many are tempted to buy supplements that are rather dangerous and only become popular due to manipulative advertisement campaigns. This has led many people to imbibe hazardous and often fatal supplements to improve cognitive performance by offering to our bodies what ultimately can cause catastrophic repercussions.

Generally, there is an optimism due to promising scientific research surrounding the use of nootropics to fight PTSD. However, research is still limited in different segments of participants, and more targeted research would reveal more detailed facts. The current state of research holds to the effect of nootropics, and it can carry immense value in care coordination in the global healthcare system.