Low Serotonin Level

When serotonin levels are low, many psychological problems can develop including serious depression.

Serotonin levels are not routinely checked before prescribing serotonin-elevating agents. Since blood serotonin levels correlate poorly with brain levels, a therapeutic trial with agents that are known to raise levels is a reasonable and cost-effective approach.

One must be cautious not to combine too many SRIs (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, St. John’s Wort (hypericum), and 5HTP to avoid the medical condition known as serotonin syndrome. Here the brain has too much serotonin (the opposite of what happens in depression) and this may result in symptoms such as sweating, agitation, confusion, lethargy, tremor, and muscle jerks. If such symptoms occur, consult your doctor immediately.

 


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Low Serotonin Level

Symptoms - Food - Beverages  

No desire/inability to recover from alcoholism or being a recovering alcoholic



Symptoms - Food - Preferences  

Craving but not/craving and eating wheat



Symptoms - General  

History of/having a CFS diagnosis



Symptoms - Mind - Emotional  

Emotional instability



Symptoms - Sleep  

Being a light sleeper




Conditions that suggest Low Serotonin Level

Diet  


Immunity  


Mental  

Depression

Serotonin levels can dictate if you feel depressed or not. Antidepressant medications like Paxil, Zoloft, St. John’s Wort, and Prozac work by preventing serotonin destruction and loss. These antidepressants inhibit serotonin uptake ( or reuptake) by the neurons in the brains. Low serotonin levels cause depression.



 

Anxiety

Serotonin levels are often low among people with anxiety disorders.



 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Although the exact cause is not known, experts believe that OCD may be caused by low levels of a chemical in the brain called serotonin.



Metabolic  

Insomnia

Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin. As such, low levels may be associated with low levels of melatonin and thus produce insomnia.



 


 


 


Musculo-Skeletal  



Low Serotonin Level can lead to

Mental  

Schizophrenia

Too much or too little serotonin has been associated with depression, psychosis, and other problems.




Recommendations for Low Serotonin Level

Amino Acid / Protein  

Tryptophan / 5 HTP

Tryptophan is the dietary amino acid precursor for production of serotonin in the body. First it is converted into 5HTP, and then into serotonin. Both supplements are available, but tryptophan may require a doctor’s prescription. It is recommended that these be taken under a doctor’s supervision.



Habits  

Sunlight / Light Exposure

Serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light, and falls with decreased sun exposure. This has been proven by many scientific studies, including one reported in the well-respected medical journal Lancet in 2002. This study measured blood levels of serotonin, finding that production of serotonin by the brain was directly related to the duration of bright sunlight.



Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Likely to help
Highly recommended

Glossary

Serotonin

A phenolic amine neurotransmitter (C10H12N2O) that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found especially in the brain, blood serum and gastric membranes of mammals. Considered essential for relaxation, sleep, and concentration.

Anxiety

Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.

Melatonin

The only hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the pineal gland. The hormone appears to inhibit numerous endocrine functions, including the gonadotropic hormones. Research exists on the efficacy of melatonin in treating jet lag and certain sleep disorders. Dosages greater than l milligram have been associated with drowsiness, headaches, disturbances in sleep/wake cycles and is contraindicated in those who are on antidepressive medication. It also negatively influences insulin utilization.

Tryptophan

Essential amino acid. Natural relaxant and sleep aid due to its precursor role in serotonin (a neurotransmitter) synthesis. Along with tyrosine, it is used in the treatment of addictions.

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