Tyrosine and L-Phenylalanine
For Coping With Depression

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Tyrosine and L-Phenylalanine For Coping With Depression

Tyrosine and L-phenylalanine are also important amino acids when it comes to coping with depression naturally.


Importance of tyrosine and L-phenylalanine

Tyrosine is needed for the production of neurotransmitters known as catecholamines, including dopamine, norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (or adrenaline). During periods of stress, epinephrine and norepinephrine are released, which is why prolonged periods of intense stress can deplete the amino acid tyrosine (as well as L-phenylalanine). [2]

Tyrosine is also a component of hormones like thyroid and estrogen, which also play a role in mental/emotional well-being [2].

In turn, L-phenylalanine is a precursor to tyrosine. L-phenylalanine can also be converted to a stimulating neuro-chemical known as 2 phenylethylamine (2-PEA; considered the brain’s amphetamine), which low levels can contribute to certain depressions that only phenylalanine can correct. [1, 2]

Indeed, studies in the American Journal of Psychiatry and Lancet have shown the effectiveness of tyrosine for coping with depression, when antidepressants had proved ineffective. As an alternative to tyrosine, L-phenylalanine has also been found to be as effective as the popular antidepressant drug imipramine (Tofranil). [1, 2]


Do you need tyrosine and L-phenylalanine?

If you have symptoms [1, 2] of depression characterized by lethargy, sleeping too much and fatigue, it is possible that your brain norepinephrine levels are low and the stimulating effects of tyrosine or L-phenylalaine might be useful to you in coping with depression naturally.

You may also be a good candidate for the use of tyrosine or L-phenylalanine for coping with depression if you experience the following:

  • have been on oral contraceptives or suffered from postpartum depression [1]

  • cravings for stimulants like caffeine, chocolates, amphetamines and nicotine. These external stimulants tend to trigger the release of the brain’s own stimulants, PEA and NE, which depletion causes lethargy and depression [1]
  • chronic pain [1]
  • winter depression [1]
  • a prolonged period of stress, as excessive long term stress depletes NE, and subsequently tyrosine, its precursor. [2]


Measuring your tyrosine and L-phenylalanine availability

To have a better sense if amino acids like tyrosine and L-phenylalanine will be useful for your depression, you will first need to check the availability of these amino acids in your body.

You can do so through a plasma or urine test for the ratio of the depression-crucial amino acids (e.g. tryptophan, tyrosine, L-phenylalanine and histidine) relative to each other, as well as to the other larger, neutral amino acids that compete with them for passage across the blood-brain barrier. [3]

Abnormal amino acids patterns revealed through the laboratory tests can suggest the following [2]:

  • availability (or unavailability) of tyrosine and L-phenylalanine and the key amino acids

  • inborn problems with metabolism
  • functional deficiency of certain vitamins or minerals (e.g. those needed for amino acids to be converted to their derivatives)
  • impaired detoxification of ammonia

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