When I was in college, I fell in with a group of people who honestly believed that in order to be a true artist, one had to suffer. The tortured artist wasn’t merely a stereotype for them, but a chosen lifestyle.

Fortunately, before I was twenty-four, I figured out that for myself, I am most productive when I am happy. Therefore, it became important to me to be happy. I didn’t always seek my own happiness. I sometimes put other people’s expectations and happiness above my own. However, I’d eventually figure out that I wasn’t happy and I’d make changes in my life to fix that.

I’ve always been a happy person. It’s easy for me to be happy. My brain makes the right chemicals for happiness to occur.

I’ve known other people who are not happy, whose brains don’t make the right chemicals. One of the first was my ex-father-in-law. He had depression, as well as a family history of depress. He treated his using L-5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).

5-HTP is a serotonin precursor. It gives your brain the building blocks it needs to make the happy chemicals. There are lots of studies that measure how 5-HTP actually increases serotonin levels in the brain.

So, if your brain can make the happy chemicals, 5-HTP may help you be happier.

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Depression isn’t something to play around with. If you’re seriously depressed, go and see someone about it.

For my ex-father-in-law, 5-HTP was what he needed in order to be happy. I know of other people for whom 5-HTP is sufficient, and so they aren’t on anti-depressants as a result.

I also know people for whom 5-HTP does nothing. I suspect their brains don’t make the right chemicals to start with.

For me, I realized that I was having a more difficult time being happy. I wasn’t unhappy or depressed necessarily, but I wasn’t finding joy in a lot of things either.

I started taking 5-HTP and it made a huge difference for me. I took it for years.

Then, in 2019, I decided to try to cut back on the number of supplements I was taking. I eased off the 5-HTP, going from 100 mg down to 50 mg. I didn’t notice any change whatsoever. So I stopped taking it.

I noticed that it was slightly more difficult for me to be happy, but I was far from unhappy. For the most part, there was no change.

Then, along came 2020. I just should have started re-taking the 5-HTP. I didn’t. I didn’t restart until March of this year (2021).

The change is subtle. However, if feels as though it’s effortless for me to be happy these days. Anything that reduces friction I think is a good thing.

So again, I’m not a doctor. Don’t play one on TV. You still might want to consider adding 5-HTP to your routine if you think it might help.

ALSO—if you do decide to go ahead and try it, I recommend getting a known brand, such as Thorne Research. Not all supplements are created equal.