Updated: Feb 16
Let’s talk anxiety and 5-HTP!
I’ve mentioned before that I have un-diagnosed anxiety. And I actually think I’ve had it since I was a child.
Besides the fact that mental health isn’t discussed in the Black community ( which is a whole post in itself ), me and my mom were never really in a situation to go get it checked out anyway.
I remember telling my mom when I was in elementary/middle school, that I thought I had asthma. Why? Because I would randomly have trouble breathing sometimes, feel like my heart was racing and my throat was closing up.
She would laugh and say “girl, you don’t have no asthma!” Now, she was right, I didn’t have asthma. But even then, I knew something was wrong. So I just dealt with it as it happened. But seriously y’all, I thought I had asthma for a large portion of my life!
When I was around 16-17 years old, I remember having my first severe anxiety attack. It was at night and I couldn’t lay down without feeling like I was suffocating. I thought I was going to die that night- I wrote my mom a goodbye letter.
The older I’ve gotten, the worse my anxiety has gotten. Sometimes it has a source, sometimes I’m literally driving and out of no where I start freaking out.
When I’m in high stress situations, it’s at its worse. I have gone to urgent care so many nights because I felt like I was having heart problems-even though all tests came back normal. Important to note that I also suffer from heart palpitations/flutters so on top of my anxiety, the feeling of something being “off” with my heart is very real. I go to the hospital almost every time something feels weird. Better safe than sorry in my opinion!
Most recently, my severe attacks have been accompanied by feeling like I’m literally fainting when I fall asleep- so rather than the calm feeling of gently falling asleep, I’m getting a panicky feeling of “omg you’re falling asleep when you shouldn’t be!” The best way I can describe it is when you’re having a dream that you’re falling and your body jolts you awake. That’s how it feels to fall asleep when my anxiety is at its worse, feels like I’m repeating the “being jolted awake” sensation.
Sometimes I am able to coach myself out of an attack but that’s not always the case. To try and help lessen the frequency and intensity of my anxiety attacks I started taking 5-HTP. Again, shout out to Tia for the recommendation!
Sis, what the hell is 5-HTP!?
5-HTP is serotonin. Scientific name: 5-hydroxytryptamine.
Which your body already naturally creates.
We’ve all heard of serotonin. It’s the chemical responsible for mood (on a very basic level because I’m not a doctor). Its been known as the “happy” chemical. It communicates with the nerves in your brain and basically it’s like “nerves, we’re good, we’re happy, we’re not in danger. Like, we’re chilling sis!”
It is my understanding that my body simply doesn’t make enough serotonin. So when it talks to my nerves it’s like “ok hold up, something isn’t right, we are not safe, we are not happy, DANGER!!” Which leads to more anxiety which then leads to a laundry list of other issues for me, personally.
I started taking 5-HTP when I first started experiencing that being “jolted awake” sensation. This was around April 2018. I take the Natrol brand and I buy it from Amazon. I take the 100mg chewable tablet because I can't swallow pills!
Almost immediately, like next day, I noticed a difference. Ché kept a graph of my anxiety levels during this time, because as I said it was very bad. I think this graph is from when it was starting to calm down, right around when I started taking the 5-HTP.
Now of course, all that said, consult with your doctor before starting new medication. I didn’t because I don’t have one- on my to do list for 2019 though. I did tell a doctor at urgent care one night that I took it for anxiety and he wanted to know if it helped because he’d heard about it.🤷🏾♀️
I am not a doctor, this works for me. It may not work for you. I know it makes some people nauseous, but that hasn’t been my experience.
Now, here’s the interesting part. I take two a day, everyday. That’s 200mg of extra serotonin in my body every day! If I miss even one day, I’m fucked, the anxiety will return with a vengeance and Ché will be like “did you miss your 5-HTP in the past week?”
5-HTP doesn’t 100% get rid of my anxiety but I can completely tell when I’m taking it vs. when I’m not.
You may have seen that one of my 2019 goals is to find a therapist/psychologist and maybe psychiatrist who can help officially diagnose me and tell me if 5-HTP is a good option or if I should move in a different direction.
For now, it’s all I have so I will continue to take it. It does not help with my social anxiety, which I will be covering in a later post, but it does help with my general anxiety.
Living with anxiety can be hard, especially when you haven’t had the resources to confirm that you have it. It can be scary, but you can pull through and learn to mange it!
If anyone struggles with anxiety, social anxiety, or anything else, and you just want to talk to someone, hit me up on Instagram. Don't ever hesitate to reach out to me!