A low level of serotonin can adversely affect the functions of the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter concerned with maintaining important brain functions, including sleep, appetite, mood, and memory. Find out the factors or conditions that can cause low serotonin levels by going through this article.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that transmits nerve impulses, and it is concerned with regulating some crucial brain functions. It is mainly known for regulating sleep, appetite, mood, alertness, memory, body temperature, behavior, and the functions of the endocrine system. A deficiency of serotonin is believed to be associated with depression. Apart from depression, this condition can give rise to many other health and emotional problems.
Serotonin Deficiency Causes
It can be a genetic or acquired condition. Usually, it has been observed that chronic stress can deplete the level of this neurotransmitter in the brain. Even a poor diet that fails to supply the essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, can lower the production of serotonin in the body. Even digestive ailments can be responsible for causing nutritional deficiencies that can eventually affect the level of serotonin.
Apart from these, some other possible causes of low serotonin levels are, lack of adequate exposure to sunlight, overuse of depression medications and substances like alcohol and nicotine, exposure to toxic heavy metals, drug abuse, excessive exposure to certain chemicals and plastics, vitamin deficiencies, especially a deficiency of niacin, and hormonal fluctuations, especially low levels of the hormone progesterone.
Serotonin Deficiency Symptoms
Serotonin deficiency is usually associated with sleep disorders. However, it can also produce many other symptoms like:
- Depression and anxiety
- Cravings for carbohydrate or sugar
- Disruption of the normal sleep cycle
- Problems in concentration and attention
- Emotional outbursts and irritability
- Chronic pain
- Unusual fear or phobias
- Repetitive troublesome or negative thoughts
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Low self-esteem
- Increased sensitivity to pain
In addition to these symptoms, it is suspected that this condition may be associated with sudden infant death syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, aggressive behavior, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, weight gain, panic attacks, and schizophrenia.
How to Raise the Level of Serotonin
This condition is usually diagnosed on the basis of the symptoms. The symptoms produced by this condition can be managed to an extent with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like prozac. To raise the level of this neurotransmitter, synthesized serotonin (derived from tryptophan) can be used.
Tryptophan is an amino acid and the precursor of serotonin. Sometimes, a diet rich in serotonergic foods can also help raise the level of this neurotransmitter. Foods that can help increase the level of this neurotransmitter are, fruits and vegetables, chicken, fish, walnuts, and mushrooms. Along with including these foods in your diet, you can also opt for tryptophan or serotonin supplements after consulting a health care provider.
Even exercises and relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga can help increase serotonin naturally. Exercises that can increase the heart rate moderately are ideal for this purpose. Recreational activities like crafts, hobbies, and any activity that makes you feel good can also prove effective in alleviating the symptoms of this condition. At the same time, exposure to sunlight, especially in the morning can be beneficial, as sunlight is known to raise the level of serotonin.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.