What Are the Effects of Low Serotonin?

Low serotonin levels may result in tension headaches.
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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 06 August 2014
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Low serotonin levels may lead to anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, tension headaches, and over eating. Serotonin is a hormone that is produced in the brain. Serotonin, like dopamine and norepinephrine, is a neurotransmitter. Serotonin helps the body maintain a happy feeling, controls mood, aids in sleep, and reduces anxiety. While serotonin is associated with the brain, roughly 90 percent of the serotonin in the body is located in the blood platelets and the digestive tract.

Serotonin and other neurotransmitters move signals from one part of the brain to another, and influence bodily functions. Serotonin affects behavior, memory, temperature, sleep, appetite, sexual desire, and mood. Low serotonin levels can have a negative effect on the amount of milk a new mother produces, and may even be a contributing factor to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Serotonin has an impact on the endocrine and cardiovascular system and the way that muscles function.

Low levels of serotonin may also increase an individual's risk of addiction. Mild to moderate caases of depression are often blamed on low serotonin levels, and most antidepressants target serotonin or norepinephrine. Low grade ailments such as fatigue, insomnia, and general feelings of worthlessness can all be caused by low serotonin levels. Estrogen and progesterone may react with serotonin, effecting serotonin levels and worsening premenstrual symptoms.

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There is no way to test levels of serotonin in a living person's brain. Blood serum tests can determine serum levels in the blood, and those levels are often low in people with depression. Serotonin levels may be low because the brain cells responsible for producing the chemical do not make a sufficient amount, the individual has low levels of tryptophan, which is used to manufacture serotonin, the existing serotonin cannot reach receptor sites where it is needed, or the body lacks sufficient receptor sites.

It may be possible to increase serotonin levels through diet. Some evidence suggests that a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates may increase serotonin levels naturally. Tryptophan rich foods, such as chicken, turkey, nuts, or dairy, provide the building blocks for serotonin. The vitamin B-6 may help the body's conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.

It is possible to have too much serotonin in the body, as well. Combining serotonin-raising antidepressants with 5-HTP or St Johns Wort can lead to serotonin syndrome. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include uncontrollable muscle spasms, confusion, sweating, and agitation. Serotonin syndrome requires immediate medical attention.

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Discuss this Article

whitesand
Post 3

For the longest time I thought my sister-in-law was just a crazy woman until I ran across this article. Now I believe she has the classic signs of low serotonin.

After further investigation and long talks with my brother on her condition we think these symptoms have led to a disease called bipolar disorder.

It's a pretty serious condition but the good news is that it can be treated. My brother and his wife are living a normal happy life now because of her treatment.

MsClean
Post 2

@ladyjane - I can feel your frustrations about your husbands behavior and it must be equally frustrating because he refuses to seek medical attention for it.

I too suffer from low serotonin depression. The anti-depressants I was taking seem to only make things worse because of their addictive side effects.

I began a research on low serotonin causes and how to increase serotonin in the blood naturally. Here are a few things that have helped me balance my mood swings and get my life back.

First and foremost is to get plenty of natural sunlight. Next is the addition of Omega-three fatty acids like that in fish and fish oil supplements. St. John's Wort is another safe and effective home remedy I've used for fighting anxiety and depression. Vitamin B6 and 5-hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP have also been helpful at boosting my bodies serotonin level.

There are many websites, books and articles on the subject to help guide you. Most all of them will offer the same suggestion to get more sunlight, drink less caffeine, no alcoholic beverages and to eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables.

All of these treatments are designed to increase the blood serotonin level naturally. I'm sure you'll find just the right one to beat your husbands low serotonin symptoms and can then start living a happier healthier life.

ladyjane
Post 1

My husband experiences mild to moderate levels of anxiety with frequent periods of depression. It's a real chore to get him to seek medical attention, especially when he doesn't even realize there's a problem with his behavior.

He doesn't like to take medication of any kind and believes that everything can be treated naturally or it'll just work itself out.

I agree with him to some degree about the use of synthetic drugs and that alternative medicine is sometimes a better option along with a well balanced diet.

But this kind of behavior has been going on now for at least two years and it just isn't normal. I believe he has all the symptoms of low serotonin. I need some advice please on how to increase his serotonin levels using an all natural treatment.

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