Feeling down? Could be low levels of serotonin!
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) found in the brain and throughout the body that plays a vital role in regulating mood, sleep, appetite and other important functions.
But, what role does it play in mood and how you can boost your levels naturally?
Read on for Serotonin 101!
Serotonin, also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), is a monoamine neurotransmitter. It also acts as a hormone.
As a neurotransmitter, serotonin carries messages between nerve cells in your brain (your central nervous system) and throughout your body (your peripheral nervous system). It is these chemical messages that tell your body how to work.(1) When your levels of serotonin are off, so are the messages.
Serotonin plays a key role in mood and emotion, influencing social behavior sleep, appetite, digestion, nausea, wound healing, modulating pain perception, bone health, blood clotting and sexual desire.
There is a large connection between the brain and the gut and when we are looking at serotonin, we can see that connection very clearly. About 90% of serotonin is found in the cells lining your gastrointestinal tract. It’s released into your blood circulation and absorbed by platelets. Only about 10% is produced in your brain.(1)
There isn’t an easy answer to the serotonin deficiency question because scientists haven’t concluded the right balance yet. It’s generally discussed in terms of the symptoms that result, rather than the exact levels that might bring it on.(2)
Serotonin deficiency has symptoms that are far reaching. Here are some of the most common:
Psychological symptoms may include:
Low levels are also associated with:
Research has begun to show activity in increasing numbers of bodily processes, including:(3)
A deficiency won’t show up the same way in everyone. Due to bioindividuality, there are many factors at play that can affect how a person will respond to an imbalance.
There is also the possibility of having too high a level of serotonin. This is called serotonin syndrome and is a serious drug reaction.
It can occur when you increase the dose of certain medications or start taking a new drug. Most often this is caused by combining medications that contain serotonin, such as a migraine medication and an antidepressant.
Signs and symptoms include:
If you suspect you might have serotonin syndrome after starting a new drug or increasing the dose of a drug you’re already taking, call your health care provider right away or go to the emergency room.(4)
Ways to increase serotonin levels include:
Serotonin has a crucial role in regulating many different processes within our body. When the levels of serotonin in our body drop, we start seeing it through symptoms in our mental and physical health. If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms listed above, try some of the tips for increasing your serotonin levels to see if it makes a difference for you. If you are struggling with more severe feelings of depression, please reach out to someone for help like a close friend, family or call 988 to speak to someone.
For more tips and the latest and greatest in health optimization, follow me on Instagram.