Serotonin is one of the most important hormones and neurotransmitters of the human body. It is a “conductor”, a substance that binds nerve cells and provides impulse transmission along a chain of neurons from one area of the brain to another. Most brain cells are somehow dependent on serotonin. Its participation is traced in the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system, in addition, the hormone affects intraocular pressure, respiration, the development of reactions to allergens and sensitivity to pain. However, many people know this substance under the name “hormone of happiness”, since it is able to influence a person’s mood. The emotional state is affected by the concentration of this substance: the smaller it is, the more depressed a person feels, and vice versa.
So, what does serotonin do
Serotonin affects the brain,the work of the cardiovascular system, muscles and the endocrine system in some way depends on it. Here are what else regulates serotonin levels:
1. Work of the intestine. Most serotonin is not in the brain, but in the gastrointestinal tract. It affects the loss of appetite during meals.
2. Mood. This hormone is primarily known for its influence on mood, anxiety and happiness.
3. Blood coagulation. Platelets react to a wound with the release of serotonin. With his participation, the tiny arteries called arterioles narrow, the blood flow weakens, and blood clots appear.
4. Nausea. If some kind of toxin or irritant is ingested, the intestines react to this by increasing serotonin production in order to slow down the progress of the stimulus and release it through diarrhea.
5. Bone density. Sustained high levels of serotonin in the bones may increase the risk of osteoporosis.
6. Sexual function. It is believed that the increase in libido while intoxicated is associated with a decrease in serotonin levels. And for people who take drugs that increase their level, libido and sexual function are reduced.
Symptoms of the serotonin deficiency
Deficiency of serotonin in the body cannot be detected by laboratory tests; only certain symptoms may indicate its presence, which the patient himself should not disregard. Most often there are several manifestations of the lack of this hormone, but not always patients can correctly identify them. The following symptoms of lacking serotonin are distinguished:
prolonged stay in a bad mood;
fatigue from any physical and mental activity;
lack of interest in what was previously attracted;
unjustified craving for alcohol, tobacco products and psychotropic substances;
a sudden increase in sensitivity to pain;
Serotonin and depression
It is believed that depressive states are inextricably linked with serotonin imbalance. Any failure in the biochemistry of the process can lead to depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic, and outbursts of anger.
One of the theories of the development of depression suggests that the matter is in the regeneration of brain cells, the process of which is controlled by serotonin. When regeneration is suppressed, depression occurs. Antidepressants designed to increase serotonin levels trigger the production of new cells, and this reduces the symptoms of depression.
It is believed that serotonin deficiency plays a role in the development of depression, but it is impossible to measure its level in the living brain. Therefore, studies that would confirm that depression or mental illness develops amid lack of this or other neurotransmitters in the brain, no. But you can track its concentration in the blood. As it became clear, for people suffering from depression, it is lower. But whether a decrease in serotonin levels causes depression or, conversely, depression leads to a decrease in its production, is also unknown.
Antidepressants, which are prescribed most often, are aimed specifically at working with serotonin. These drugs are inhibitors of serotonin reuptake or serotonin and norepinephrine.
How to increase serotonin levels and cope with depression
Antidepressants are not the only way to raise your serotonin levels in the body. This can be done in simple healthy ways at home and at any convenient time.
1. Eat foods high in tryptophan. This is a key component of serotonin, and it is in many products. You need vitamins of group B. They are found in liver, buckwheat, oatmeal, lettuce and beans. You also need products containing magnesium (it also contributes to the production of serotonin). This is rice, prunes, dried apricots, bran, sea kale. To raise serotonin levels, eat bananas, melons, dates, pumpkins, oranges.
2. Change your thinking. The restructuring of thoughts, no matter how it happens - with the help of a psychotherapist or with our own efforts - can increase serotonin synthesis.
3. Come to light. It is already used in the treatment of seasonal affective disorders. Some studies have shown that light is also effective in treating depression.
4. Practice. Exercise has antidepressant properties and, as scientists say, can increase serotonin production. Take at least 20 minutes a day to exercise or practice any kind of sport (running, swimming, dancing, etc.), and soon you will lift your spirits and feel much better.
Serotonin levels and recovery from depression are interrelated. There are many ways and simple steps to raise your mood and get out of depression. Since the effect of drugs is limited in time and does not eliminate the underlying causes of depression, psychological work with the causes of depressive states is necessary.