[Notice: This post contains information on various prescription and non prescription drugs and supplements that may be potential harmful. I am not a doctor. Do not take this post as medical advice. Please talk to your physician before starting any new regimen or medication.]
Nootropics? Who whatas? That’s right, nootropics. If you don’t already know, nootropics are a fancier word for smart drugs, if you’ve seen the movie Limitless, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Although they won’t make you a super human by any means, cognitive enhancing “drugs” do exist. One very well know nootropic is probably already a part of your daily routine and you didn’t even know it. Caffeine. As a stimulant, caffeine is responsible for providing mental alertness and energy.
I suffer from general anxiety disorder and major depression. A side effect of these to things that I personally experience is the inability to motivate myself to start tasks and the inability to focus on tasks once I have started them. Although I have never been diagnosed with ADD, I believe this are probably similar symptoms to those that people with ADD experience. Unfortunately, caffeine doesn’t have the affects on me that I would like it too so recently I began searching the net for supplements that could possibly help increase energy levels and mood so that I would want to be productive while keeping me focused on the tasks at hand.
I am aware that many college students obtain Adderall for similar desires. For several reasons which aren’t really important enough to discuss here, I did not want to go that route. I wanted solutions that were cheaper, for one, easier to obtain, and less addictive and potentially harmful. During my research, I discovered a drug call Modafinil. Modafinil is, in the US, a prescription drug that is sold under the name Provigil. According to drugs.com, Provigil is used to treat narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or sleep disorders related to shift work. After doing (tons) more research, reading reviews and experiencing of people using modafinil to treat ADD symptoms, I decided to give it a try. Thus, I took the first steps into my journey.
I have taken modafinil a total of three times. Last week Monday (100mg) , Tuesday (100mg), and Wednesday (200mg). According to my research, when used to treat ADD like symptoms, modafinil has been shown to increase wakefulness in a way that doesn’t cause fogginess, severe appetite suppression and other unideal symptoms that Adderall is known for. It’s commonly described as causing a sort of tunnel vision with the user being able to focus on a particular task for hours at a time without feeling fatigued or distracted. It’s safe to say I had pretty high expectations. Which is probably where the issue was.
Overall, I found the effects of modafinil extremely subtle. There wasn’t a certain time that I instantly felt focused, the effect is very gradual as it the “cool down” phase. I did experience tunnel vision of sorts, but it was more of a literal tunnel vision than a metaphorical one. My peripheral vision was somewhat blurry which possibly attributed to my increased focus. So yes, it did work, kind of, just not how I expected. I was able to focus on certain tasks for an extended period of time, just not the tasks I wanted. My biggest drawback with using this medicine is that although I was able to focus a little better, it was a very anxious-type of focus. It could be related to the fact that I’m already taking effexor (although no known interactions exist) or it could have been related to caffeine consumption. I had read using caffeine with smaller doses of modafinil is pretty effective and caffeine is known to cause jitteriness, it just wasn’t something I had ever experienced before.
It is recommended by those who aren’t using modafinil for narcolepsy or sleep disorders that you cycle taking the medication so as not to experience unpleasant side effect (like sleep problems or headaches) or build up a tolerance. For week one, I decided to try three days on, four days off. So technically, I should have taken it today but as I woke up late I decided against it. I am going to continue to test this drug, using different dosages and caffeine amounts to see what works best for me (if anything).
During the four days off, I began doing other research on nootropics to see what else was out there. My searches brought me to Braintropic, a super informative website with information on many different kinds of nootropics, the effects they have on your brain and why they work. This information is essential for “stacking” which is essentially creating your own ideal cocktail of supplements to boost your brain power. It may sound scary, but there have been lots of academic researched published on various nootropics and the risks are relatively low if you do your research and make smart decisions. I highly encourage anyone who’s interested in the subject to check out the website for more information.
I have decided to ultimately venture into stacking in hopes to fine tune a supplement cocktail to perform exactly how I need it to. For example, a baby stack for beginners that’s commonly discussed is caffeine + L-theanine. Both of these supplements can be found in your nearest pharmacy and at walmart. We know that caffeine is a stimulate and is supposed to provide mental clarity, but as I discussed early some people at higher doses are sensitive to its effects and feel anxious and jittery. That is where the miracle of L-theanine comes in. Recommended at a 2:1 ratio of caffeine to LT, l-theanine synergizes the effects of caffeine by giving you a calmer, less anxious boost than just taking caffeine alone. So, for the last four days, this is the route I’ve been taking and I don’t feel confident enough to make a judgment on it yet. As a plus side, l-theanine is also supposed to be good for mood health, sleep, and other things.
As I venture more into this topic I feel like my ultimate goal is to find a daily regimen that can uplift mood, help with anxiety, and provide focus as an all-in-one stack so that I can someday wean myself off of Effexor XR, which at this point, is not really helping much of anything anymore.
This post is a novel long, but its an intro on the subject so it’s fine. Part II of my series on nootropics will have a review on my experience of caffeine + l-theanine as well as updates of modafinil and hopefully more info on the next stack I’ll be trying. Also coming soon is a post on my experience with Effexor XR and how it has helped/harmed my depression an anxiety as well as side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
As always if anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, I’ll be here all week!