Low Serotonin – What do you need?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and hormone that our bodies produce naturally and that is used by the brain to regulate and support several systems throughout the body.
The body produces serotonin using building blocks synthesized from nutritional input. The amount of serotonin produced can vary depending on a number of circumstances, some of which may be genetic, and some of which are affected by the body’s overall health, good nutrition, sunlight, and exercise.
Research is as yet unclear as to how, exactly, serotonin functions in the body, especially in mood regulation, however there is a link between lower levels of serotonin receptors in the brain and mood symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Two classes of commonly used anti-depressant medications work on serotonin receptors and have been found helpful for many, but not all, people in regulating mood.
Serotonin may have a role in helping:
- Regulate and boost mood
- Manage the digestive function
- Support sleep and rest
- Wound healing
- Sexual desire
- Support the immune system
- Improve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Symptoms of low serotonin
Since serotonin appears to have a role in such a wide variety of bodily functions, there are symptoms that may be associated with low serotonin levels affecting different areas:
Mood and behavioral symptoms, including anxiety and depression as well as problems with memory, attention deficit, insomnia and changes to sexual desire.
Physical symptoms, including blood clotting, constipation, cravings for carbohydrate-heavy foods, digestive issues, fatigue and many others.
What you can do to boost serotonin levels
Lifestyle changes, including adopting the Mediterranean diet, getting more sunlight exposure, or using a light-therapy lamp indoors, and getting more exercise, which tones up the hormone producing systems in the body, as well as other body systems.
Medications: discuss with your health care provider if medications might help you.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are two important classes of medication that are widely used in the management of depression. For more information about medications, see the following pages: