5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) For Depression

If you have depression, you may have heard about 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) as a possible treatment. But does this supplement actually work for depression?
Many people believe that mood disorders such as depression are linked to serotonin, an important brain chemical. Because the body converts 5-hydroxytryptophan into serotonin, taking 5-HTP can increase serotonin levels, which theoretically may help with depression and other mood disorders. Many prescription antidepressants work by increasing the level of serotonin in the body, so it seems reasonable to predict that 5-hydroxytryptophan may have actions similar to this.
(To learn more about treating depression or other conditions with this supplement, click 5-HTP Uses. This article gives a more detailed explanation of how it is thought to work and addresses whether it can be given to children.)
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD