Can Nootropics Cause Anxiety? Understanding the Risks and Alternatives

Can Nootropics Cause Anxiety? Understanding the Risks and Alternatives

Introduction – Can Nootropics Affect Anxiety?

Nootropics, also commonly referred to as smart drugs, cognitive enhancers, and memory enhancers, are supplements or drugs believed to possess the capacity to enhance cognitive function, memory retention, creativity, and motivation. The burgeoning popularity of nootropics among athletes, students, and professionals has been noteworthy in recent years. However, this surge in usage has been accompanied by concerns about the potential for nootropics to cause anxiety.

This article seeks to delve into the intricate and nuanced relationship between nootropics and anxiety, exploring the various types of nootropics that could potentially trigger anxiety, as well as the intricate mechanisms through which nootropics could generate or exacerbate anxiety.

It is important to note that while nootropics have been touted as beneficial supplements for enhancing cognitive function, their effects on anxiety are still a subject of debate, with studies yielding inconsistent results. Nonetheless, it is pertinent to examine how these compounds interact with anxiety in order to make informed decisions about their usage.

With a deeper understanding of the impact that nootropics have on anxiety, it will be possible to make better-informed decisions about the appropriateness of using these supplements or drugs. By evaluating the various types of nootropics that are associated with anxiety, it is possible to develop a clearer picture of the specific risk factors that need to be considered when using nootropics.

As the discourse on the relationship between nootropics and anxiety continues to evolve, it is crucial to keep a close eye on the latest research in order to stay informed about the potential benefits and risks of these supplements. Only through careful evaluation and informed decision-making can the potential of nootropics be harnessed without risking the development or exacerbation of anxiety.

Nootropics and Anxiety

The intricate relationship between nootropics and anxiety has been a topic of great interest in recent years. Anxiety, a multifaceted emotion characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease, can affect millions of individuals worldwide. The origins of anxiety can be attributed to a plethora of factors, such as genetics, environmental influences, and stress. In an attempt to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, some individuals turn to nootropics.

Nootropics are a class of substances that can impact the levels of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine, in the brain. Changes in neurotransmitter levels can have a profound impact on mood, cognition, and behavior. However, it has been suggested that some nootropics may cause overstimulation of the central nervous system, leading to anxiety.

Numerous studies have sought to investigate the effects of nootropics on anxiety. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that modafinil, a popular nootropic, was associated with heightened levels of anxiety and irritability in healthy individuals. Additionally, another study published in the same journal revealed that the consumption of caffeine, another commonly used nootropic, was linked to increased anxiety and panic attacks in individuals with a history of anxiety disorders.

These findings highlight the complex nature of the relationship between nootropics and anxiety. While some individuals may benefit from the use of nootropics to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, others may experience heightened anxiety as a result of consuming these substances. Therefore, it is essential to exercise caution and seek professional medical advice before using nootropics to manage anxiety.

Types of Nootropics that can Cause Anxiety

Stimulants: Unraveling the Intricacies of Nootropics

The realm of nootropics is vast and varied, with stimulants being a crucial class of these cognitive enhancers. However, the complexity of these compounds cannot be overlooked, as they can trigger a range of effects, including anxiety. Stimulants operate by elevating the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, leading to heightened energy, focus, and motivation. Nonetheless, excessive stimulation of the central nervous system can trigger anxiety, which needs to be taken into account.

Caffeine: The Classic Stimulant

Caffeine is a ubiquitous stimulant found in various sources such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks. It functions by obstructing the adenosine receptors in the brain, which increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels. The resulting effects can lead to improved cognitive performance. However, it is imperative to consume caffeine in moderation, as excessive intake can cause a range of symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia.

Modafinil: A Prescription Stimulant

Modafinil is a prescription drug utilized for treating narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder. It is also used off-label as a cognitive enhancer. Modafinil operates by escalating dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, resulting in increased cognitive performance. However, it can cause anxiety, irritability, and agitation in some individuals, which cannot be ignored.

Adderall: A Prescription Stimulant for ADHD

Adderall is another prescription stimulant utilized for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is also used off-label as a cognitive enhancer. Adderall functions by raising dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, leading to enhanced cognitive function. Nevertheless, it can also result in anxiety, restlessness, and agitation in certain individuals, making it crucial to approach it with caution.

Racetams: A Unique Class of Nootropics

Racetams are a group of nootropics that function by modulating the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to enhanced cognitive function, memory, and learning. However, it is vital to note that some racetams can trigger anxiety, making them a double-edged sword.

Piracetam: The Popular Racetam

Piracetam is among the most popular racetams and functions by increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. This leads to enhanced cognitive performance. However, it can also result in anxiety, nervousness, and agitation in some individuals.

Aniracetam: Another Popular Racetam

Aniracetam is another well-known racetam and works by modulating the levels of glutamate and acetylcholine in the brain. This leads to improved cognitive performance. However, it can also trigger anxiety, insomnia, and headaches in some individuals.

Other Stimulants: Phenibut and Phenylpiracetam

Phenibut is a nootropic utilized for treating anxiety and sleep disorders by elevating GABA levels in the brain. Nonetheless, it can lead to dependence, withdrawal, and rebound anxiety, which makes it essential to use it judiciously. Phenylpiracetam is a nootropic utilized for enhancing cognitive function, memory, and physical performance by raising dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. However, it can also result in anxiety, insomnia, and agitation in some individuals, which necessitates careful use.

How Nootropics can Cause Anxiety

The complex and intricate workings of the central nervous system can be affected by the use of certain nootropics. These substances can induce a state of overstimulation, which can trigger a cascade of symptoms, such as nervousness, restlessness, and agitation.

Moreover, some nootropics have been shown to increase the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This alteration can have a range of consequences, including the onset of anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. The intricate balance of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain can be disrupted, leading to a host of mood disorders.

The alteration of neurotransmitter levels by nootropics can have a significant impact on cognitive function and behavior. The disruption of these crucial chemical messengers can lead to profound changes in mood and affect, including anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. This complexity underscores the importance of carefully considering the use of nootropics and seeking medical advice before embarking on any regimen involving these substances.

Alternatives to Nootropics for Anxiety

If perchance you are suffering from anxiety, it behooves you to know that there exist several alternatives for managing your symptoms sans the use of nootropics. Herein, we present a few options that merit consideration:


One feasible option to explore is the utilization of therapy as a means of learning coping mechanisms and techniques aimed at effectively managing your anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used form of therapy for anxiety, rooted in the notion that modifying negative thought patterns can, in turn, aid in assuaging the symptoms of anxiety.


Another worthwhile consideration is incorporating regular exercise into your routine, as doing so may decrease anxiety levels while simultaneously improving overall mood. The release of endorphins during exercise can serve as a natural mood-enhancer and stress-reducer.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness practices can also prove beneficial in reducing anxiety levels, thanks to their emphasis on promoting relaxation and stress-reduction. Mindfulness requires one to be present in the moment, actively focusing on their thoughts and feelings without judgment.

Natural Remedies

Lastly, natural remedies are also an option to consider when attempting to alleviate anxiety symptoms. Herbal supplements such as valerian root and passionflower, alongside essential oils like lavender and chamomile, can prove quite efficacious in this regard.


To sum up, although nootropics may offer advantages in terms of cognitive function and memory improvement, certain nootropics may exacerbate anxiety symptoms. It’s critical to comprehend the potential hazards and side effects associated with nootropics prior to their inclusion in your regimen.

If you happen to be struggling with anxiety, several alternative methods exist for symptom management that do not involve nootropics. These include therapy, exercise, meditation, and natural remedies. It’s vital to consult with your healthcare provider before embarking on any new supplement or medication regimen.

What are the most common nootropics that can cause anxiety?

The most common nootropics that can cause anxiety are stimulants and some racetams, including caffeine, modafinil, piracetam, and aniracetam.

How do nootropics cause anxiety?

Nootropics can cause anxiety by overstimulating the central nervous system, increasing cortisol levels, and altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

Can natural remedies help alleviate anxiety?

Yes, there are a variety of natural remedies that can help alleviate anxiety, including herbal supplements like valerian root and passionflower, as well as essential oils like lavender and chamomile.

What are some alternative methods to manage anxiety besides nootropics?

Alternative methods to manage anxiety include therapy, exercise, meditation, and natural remedies.

Is it safe to take nootropics for anxiety?

It’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new regimen, as some nootropics can cause dependence, withdrawal, and rebound anxiety.

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George Hernandez

George specializes as a Nootropic Expert with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and a BA in philosophy, George has an excellent understanding of the workings of the human brain. He also helps to synthesize several medical papers regarding the efficacy of nootropics. He also tested the most popular nootropic supplements on the market and is making transparent reviews on each of them on this website.

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