Serotonin is a neurotransmitter produced by the nerve cells. It is additionally referred to as the happy chemical – it regulates mood and may help alleviate depression. There are many other ways this hormone plays a helpful role in your body. In this post, we’ll look into all of these benefits of serotonin – and a bit more.
Serotonin (scientifically known as 5-hydroxytryptamine) is derived from tryptophan, a vital amino acid. Tryptophan is usually found in nuts, red meat, and cheese – and its deficiency is related to several mood disorders.
Serotonin impacts almost every part of your body. It regulates your emotions and stabilizes your mood. This neurotransmitter additionally reduces depression and regulates anxiety.
It additionally has a role to play in bowel movements and sexual activity. It’s a precursor to melatonin – a chemical that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
The several functions of serotonin in the human body throw light on its importance and different essential aspects. But before we get there, you need to know more about the benefits of serotonin – in detail.
Benefits of Serotonin
As it is the happy chemical, serotonin helps induce happiness and may additionally reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Serotonin additionally boosts brain activity and sexual function.
Serotonin Induces Happiness
Studies show us that neurotransmitters, like serotonin, play a role in human happiness. Serotonin (and dopamine) regulates both positive and negative moods. In studies, this neurotransmitter mediated happiness, satisfaction, and optimism.
Further research additionally tells us that raised serotonin levels can be linked to a positive mood.
Help Treat Depression And Anxiety
Researchers believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood, causing depression. Possible Issues related to depression can include low brain cell production of serotonin. However, it’s not clear yet if low serotonin levels cause depression or if it is the other way round.
But there’s a link between serotonin and depression. The neurotransmitter might influence the mood in depressed patients. Serotonin additionally may strengthen the communication between the brain’s cells – the lack of which causes depression.
In one animal study, mice with higher levels of serotonin in their brains exhibited reduced signs of depression and anxiety.
In another study, the use of SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake Inhibitors) had shown an improvement in depressive symptoms. SSRIs are medications that make serotonin more accessible in the brain. Patients with suicidal intentions were additionally found to possess lower levels of serotonin.
Promote better Sleep
Interestingly, serotonin has a role to play in both sleep and wakefulness. Neurotransmitter plays a role in the generation of sleep.
Accumulation of serotonin in apart of your brain referred to as the dorsal raphe nucleus may put you to sleep.
Other studies additionally show that low serotonin levels might cause insomnia. When serotonin levels are brought back to normal, regular sleep falls back into place.
But excess serotonin levels may keep you up. The relation between serotonin and sleep is complicated – and we want more concrete analysis to arrive at a conclusion.
Improves Brain function
Optimal serotonin levels additionally boost cognitive functions. The neurotransmitter may also have some benefit for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and other cognitive problems.
Enhances sexual activity
One way serotonin might enhance sexual activity is by potentially relieving depression symptoms. Depression might thwart one’s sexual activity – and since serotonin may aid depression treatment, it can, as a consequence, boost sexual activity in patients.
Serotonin may have fascinating effects on male sexual function. The neurotransmitter increased erections and facilitated ejaculation in different instances.
Promote Digestive Health
The circulating serotonin in the gut can determine predominant bowel function, as per reports. Serotonin levels in the gut go down during constipation, but they go up during instances of diarrhea or celiac disease.
Serotonin additionally influences gastrointestinal blood flow. It’s also involved in multiple physiological processes of digestion.
Even the gut microflora can influence serotonin levels, and this might, in turn, impact the severity of certain gastrointestinal diseases.
Serotonin may play a role in promoting gastric emptying and relieving constipation.
Studies additionally show that serotonin can have both useful and detrimental effects on the gut. Hence, were commend you discuss with your doctor in this regard – particularly before going for any form of serotonin supplements to treat your digestive problems.
Might help With Weight Loss
Studies show that depression can cause weight gain – due to the lack of interest in the affected individual’s part to cherish healthy eating and exercise. As serotonin might relieve depressive symptoms, it may aid weight loss.
Serotonin may activate certain neurons and help curb the craving. It also affects the brain’s melanocortin system, which is a very important molecular pathway that controls body weight.
Certain serotonin medication was additionally found to reduce the intake of high-fat foods in subjects. Activation of serotonin in the human system can even lead to selective avoidance of fat in the diet. These medications are considered viable options to control the obesity epidemic in the future.
Helps Manage Pain
Serotonin plays a significant role in modulating the perception of pain. Migraine headaches are usually treated with serotonergic medication – which also helps in the management of chronic pain.
Even SSRIs seem to have fascinating effects on chronic pain conditions.
Aid Treatment Of OCD
Though we need more analysis, some studies show that SSRIs might help with the treatment of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
These benefits show us how crucial the neurotransmitter serotonin is. But, what if the serotonin levels go down? What would happen then?
What Happens once serotonin Levels Are Low?
By low serotonin levels, we mean levels less than 101 to 283 nanograms per liter (ng/ml) – that is the range for the optimal serotonin levels in the human body.
The exact serotonin levels differ from individual to individual – and may vary based on the samples tested and alternative measurements.
Low levels of serotonin can cause serotonin deficiency, the symptoms of that include:
- Depressed mood
- Low self-esteem
- Poor appetite
- Poor memory
- Impulsive behavior
Other physical symptoms of serotonin deficiency include:
- Weight gain
- Cravings for carbs
- Digestive motility problems (like irritable bowel syndrome and constipation)
The exact causes of serotonin deficiency haven’t been determined yet. But some potential causes might include the following:
- Presence of fewer serotonin receptors in the body.
- The existing serotonin receptors don’t receive serotonin effectively.
- Serotonin could be getting broken down or absorbed way too soon.
- Low levels of tryptophan, vitamins B6 and D, or omega-3 fatty acids that the body needs to produce serotonin.
How To Increase Serotonin Levels Naturally?
Exercise: Exercise has been found to possess antidepressant effects. Exercise improves mood –both in healthy and depressed people. Exercise is additionally found to boost brain serotonin function.
Exposure To Bright Light: Studies show that exposing yourself to bright light, either to the sun or a lightbox, may increase serotonin levels in your system.
Diet: Foods that boost tryptophan levels can contribute to optimal serotonin levels. These include eggs, salmon, tofu, cheese, pineapples, nuts, and turkey.
Mood Induction: Intentionally creating a happy mood or doing something you love will boost brain serotonin levels.
Treating serotonin deficiency is possible, and the results are encouraging. But with regard to medical treatments (like SSRIs), you need to know something.
A Note On serotonin Syndrome
Also referred to as serotonin toxicity, it happens when you take 2 SSRI medication at the same time or when you take too many of the drugs. Hence, please be cautious of the dose and never take the medication without medical supervision. Discuss it with your doctor.
Serotonin toxicity can cause the following symptoms, due to excessive nerve activity:
- Restlessness and agitation
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Pupil dilation
- Muscle rigidity
Severe serotonin toxicity may be life-threatening in some cases. But using only one drug in the dose limits doesn’t usually result in serotonin toxicity.
Serotonin has a major role to play in many bodily processes. Becoming deficient in it is rare, but if it happens, please understand that you have treatment options. With the correct changes to your lifestyle, you can get back on track once again!