Serotonin is essential for our well-being, because the important hormone not only regulates the day-night rhythm, but also our mood. When there is a lack of serotonin, we often feel drained and depressed, but we also get a depressive mood disorder. Especially in winter our mood deteriorates. But why is that and how can a serotonin deficiency be corrected?
Besides sunlight, there are more practical ways to boost serotonin in your body. The treatment does not necessarily have to be drug-based. In this guide you will learn everything about the subject of serotonin deficiency, ie from the symptoms, causes and diagnosis to treatment.
the essentials in brief
- The happiness hormone serotonin, which is also a messenger substance, is responsible for our mood and brain function. If you have serotonin levels, you may be suffering from insomnia, loss of libido, bad mood, and anxiety, among other things.
- A serotonin deficit can be difficult to determine, which is why a possible diagnosis is made primarily on the basis of the given symptoms. If treatment improves symptoms, serotonin deficiency is present. Most examinations only determine the serotonin content in the body, but not the decisive serotonin concentration in the brain.
- The body of research on the symptoms of serotonin deficiency could not be more controversial. Mental illnesses in particular, such as depression, are justified by some studies as a result of a lack of serotonin, while other studies make contrary findings. The effect of certain remedies against serotonin deficiency is also very controversial.
Definition: What is serotonin deficiency?
A serotonin deficiency describes a lack of the transmitter serotonin in the brain. Serotonin primarily controls and directs our mood and our driving force and causes inner peace and general well-being.
For this reason, serotonin is also known as the happiness hormone. A lack of serotonin can create exactly the opposite and have serious effects on the physical and psychological state of the person.
Background: What you should know about serotonin deficiency
In this guide you will receive important background information about serotonin deficiency by answering the most frequently asked questions briefly and concisely. Starting with the cause and effect to the symptoms and treatment, you will learn all the basic information about serotonin deficiency.
You will then be shown various remedies that you can use to counteract the serotonin deficiency.
What effect does serotonin have?
Depending on the docking of the neurotransmitter, it can develop different effects such as relaxation, deep sleep, memory promotion and much more. In general, serotonin can be understood primarily as a medium in our body, since serotonin acts primarily as a transmitter of important information between nerve cells.
The hormone serotonin is responsible, among other things, for peace of mind and for creating feelings of happiness and contentment.
In addition, serotonin can dilate and contract blood vessels and increase or decrease appetite, libido, drive, body temperature, sleep, and pain. In particular, serotonin is responsible for the processing and forwarding of information in the memory and, in the event of a deficiency, can lead to memory problems that can have a negative impact on mental and physical composure.
How does serotonin deficiency manifest itself?
A deficit of serotonin can cause very different effects with different intensities. Depending on which area of the brain is affected by a lack of serotonin, different symptoms can develop.
In any case, a lack of serotonin should be corrected, since the symptoms can worsen if left untreated and lead to serious consequences. Here you will find a table with all possible symptoms of a serotonin deficiency:
|listlessness and tiredness||An excess or deficit of serotonin can inhibit muscular nerve cells, leaving you feeling drained.|
|Irritability and sluggish mood||Disparate levels of serotonin can produce unusual emotions because the transmitters are functioning improperly.|
|anxiety and nervousness||Again, an unusual accumulation of serotonin in the brain can lead to negative sensations being aroused.|
|increased pain perception||The pain stimuli are mitigated by serotonin because the neurotransmitters are impeded.|
|sleep disturbance||Since serotonin is mainly produced during deep sleep, a lack of serotonin can lead to sleep disorders.|
|Loss of appetite or food cravings||In addition to the brain, serotonin is also found in the gastrointestinal tract and controls appetite. When there is an uneven level of serotonin, it can cause a lack of appetite or even the opposite, food cravings.|
|irritable bowel syndrome||Since serotonin is also in the stomach, negative effects can also be triggered here if there is a serotonin deficit.|
While some studies have found that a lack of serotonin and its associated symptoms can cause long-term depression, there are other studies that dispute these findings. Certain studies show that anxiety, a low and irritable mood, and disturbances in sleeping and eating patterns can cause depression over the long term.
If you have a long-term serotonin deficiency, you risk developing depression. (Image Source: Polina Zimmerman / Pexels)
The issue of mental illnesses, which are caused in part by a lack of serotonin, could not be more controversial. What is certain, however, is that certain symptoms of serotonin deficiency can be treated with antidepressants.
With regard to the stomach area, a lack of serotonin there can lead to eating disorders with devastating consequences, such as drastic weight gain or weight loss. Body temperature regulation can also be disturbed and cause excessive sweating.
Furthermore, the libido can be affected by a lack of serotonin. Basically, it can be said that a lack of serotonin often puts a lot of strain on the circulatory system.
Can a serotonin deficiency cause mental illness?
Some studies have been able to prove the connection between depression and a lack of serotonin by showing that several people suffering from depression have a lack of serotonin. Signs of low serotonin levels mainly relate to mental or psychological composure. One of the most fundamental symptoms of serotonin deficiency: depression and low spirits.
The reason for this is that serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone, lifts the mood and thus suppresses negative feelings such as fear, nervousness or irritability. However, when there is a lack of serotonin, the negative feelings come to the fore and can become so overwhelming that they cause dire consequences.
What are the causes of a serotonin deficiency?
Certain factors, such as stress, a deficit in vitamin D and B, as well as diseases such as cancer, rheumatism, diabetes, but also chronic infections can lead to the production of serotonin being disrupted, since the function of the messenger substances is impaired by the respective factors become.
Stress, a deficit in vitamin D and B, as well as diseases such as cancer, rheumatism, diabetes, but also chronic infections.
Above all, however, prolonged stress in combination with vitamin deficiencies can encourage the development of depression.
How is a serotonin deficiency diagnosed?
In contrast to many other diseases, serotonin deficiency cannot be determined by a blood test, since only the serotonin content in the body can be determined, but not the decisive serotonin content in the brain. Even an examination of the brain fluid could not provide any information about the serotonin content in the brain, since the serotonin content in the brain varies depending on the area.
However, urine can be tested for hydroxyindoleacetic acid to determine the level of serotonin in the body. The only drawback here would be that it basically measures the serotonin level in the body and not in the brain. The decisive factor, however, would be the serotonin level in the brain.
Consequently, a lack of serotonin is always determined based on the existing symptoms. To secure the diagnosis, serotonin reuptake inhibitors are prescribed to correct the deficiency. The serotonin transmitters are inhibited here, so that the serotonin content in the brain can increase.
If there is improvement, the diagnosis can be confirmed. Foods rich in tryptophan may be able to compensate for a lack of serotonin.
What helps with serotonin deficiency?
Serotonin deficiency can be treated with different means. However, the method that is ultimately used depends on the severity of the serotonin deficiency. If there is a mild serotonin deficiency with mild symptoms, natural remedies such as foods high in serotonin and physical activity can be used.
If there is a high serotonin deficiency with serious symptoms, such as increased depressive mood, more serious measures must be taken, such as drug treatment or even therapy. Consequently, it can be said that your serotonin levels in the body are largely dependent on you and your lifestyle. You can ensure that your body produces enough serotonin or that a deficiency occurs.
Does a serotonin deficiency have to be treated with medication?
Depending on the severity of the serotonin deficit and the associated symptoms, the serotonin deficiency can be treated with medication. A long-lasting gloomy mood, a profound state of exhaustion and loss of appetite, as well as insomnia should definitely be treated with medication before the symptoms worsen and massive consequences are prescribed.
In addition to SSRIs, i.e. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which enable the serotonin level to be increased, SSNRIs, selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, which act as antidepressants, are occasionally used. In order for the condition to improve visibly, the medication must be taken for a longer period of time. Drugs such as paroxetine or citalopram are often prescribed, although the side effects of these drugs should not be underestimated.
Serotonin deficiency: The best tips & tricks for a healthy serotonin level
If you now think that you could possibly have a serotonin deficiency, we naturally recommend that you see a doctor in the first place. You should have this diagnosis confirmed by a doctor so that the deficiency can be effectively corrected.
This guide is only intended to show you practical and sometimes natural options that you can use as a possible help. Below you will find helpful tips and tricks that you can use if you have a serotonin deficiency.
Fix serotonin deficiency with medication
Various antidepressants are used to treat depressed mood. In this case, serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft and promotes the transmission of certain information. The so-called SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) ensures that, for example, the serotonin concentration in the synaptic cleft remains elevated due to the delayed absorption of the hormone.
The serotonin decomposing enzyme in the human body is inhibited, so it can be used for a long time. Antidepressants can inhibit the serotonin transporter and also increase serotonin levels.
Effect of antidepressants
Antidepressants are intended to compensate for the uneven and disturbed metabolism of the body's own messenger substances norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. However, the mechanism of action is multiple. Antidepressants are of great significance in the treatment of depression.
They are intended to alleviate typical symptoms associated with a depressive mood, such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems and much more. In addition, antidepressants have also been used successfully for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and chronic sleep disorders.
However, antidepressant treatment does not work immediately. Although the calming and stimulating effects appear relatively early, a visible mood-elevating effect only occurs after a few months of treatment for depression.
After the initial effect is unsatisfactory, changing the drug too quickly will adversely affect the patient. It should also be noted that antidepressants are not addictive.
Side effects of antidepressants
Antidepressants can cause a variety of side effects. In principle, the side effects are limited to the autonomic nervous system, with problems such as indigestion and dizziness.
Certain substances can cause dry mouth, urinary retention, and hypotension, among other things, while SSRIs cause nausea , irritability, sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction in some patients.
Increasing the dose slowly will help reduce adverse drug reactions. In general, antidepressants are well-tolerated medications, but their use still requires medical supervision and control.
Eliminate serotonin deficiency with herbal remedies
Have you noticed that you may have a serotonin deficiency? First and foremost, you should go to the doctor and discuss how to proceed. If you would like to help the whole thing a bit, but are reluctant to resort to medication, you can find optimal alternatives in this section to treat a serotonin deficiency with herbal remedies.
- St. John's wort(10) : St. John's wort contains active ingredients such as hypericin and hyperforin, which lead to an increase in the production of happiness hormones. St. John's wort is also officially used as a natural remedy to treat depressive moods.
- Roseroot : This adaptogenic medicinal plant acts as a natural anti-stress agent and can make you more resilient when dealing with stress. At the same time, it can also relieve your depressed mood.
- CBD Oil : Oftentimes, stress can bring on depressed mood and anxiety. The CBD oil could alleviate these symptoms , as it not only has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects, but also calming and anti-anxiety effects.
- SAMe : Some studies have found that S-adenosylmethionine has antidepressant effects. However, it needs to be taken for a longer period of time to notice any effective effects.
- 5-HTP : 5-Hydroxytryptophan should be taken with caution because, unlike L-tryptophan, 5-HTP can lead to an excessive concentration of serotonin in the body when taken in high doses over a long period of time, which can ultimately be harmful to health.
- Saffron : The active ingredient crocin contained in saffron can boost serotonin production and achieve mood-enhancing effects when dosed correctly.
serotonin in food
In the guide with the most frequently asked questions, you have already learned that foods containing serotonin only end up in the body, but not in the brain where it is actually needed. This is because serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.
However, you can eat foods rich in L-tryptophan, as this important amino acid is converted to serotonin in the body.
Chocolate is well known as a mood enhancer. Eating certain foods can elevate your mood. (Image Source: Polina Zimmerman / Pexels)
In the brain, L-tryptophan can be converted to serotonin and become effective. However, it must be noted that studies have not been able to fully prove the mood-enhancing effects of L-tryptophan. Below you will find out which foods contain the most L-tryptophan.
|Bananas(1), Pineapples(2), Plums||The well-known fruits not only taste good, but are also rich in L-tryptophan.|
|dried fruit||Trail mix might be popular for its mood-enhancing properties, as dried fruit is high in L-tryptophan.|
|Dark Chocolate(3)||Chocolate with a high cocoa content is not only mood-enhancing in taste, but also in its effect, as it is full of L-tryptophan.|
|nuts, pumpkin seeds||Nuts and seeds have many nutrients, but they contain the most magnesium and L-tryptophan.|
|fish/beef||There may be a link between the amount of omega-3 in fish and the amount of serotonin in the body. In general it can be said that both fish and beef contain a lot of L-tryptophan.|
|Pasta, potatoes, bread, rice||These foods are high in carbohydrates, which ultimately lead to lower cortisol levels and a calming effect.|
|Black and Green Tea, Coffee(7)||The caffeine contained in the respective drinks means that more happiness hormones are released.|
|Pepperoni, Ginger, Chili(8)||Negative mood is suppressed due to the high levels of L-tryptophan.|
Increase serotonin with supplements
Many of us take supplements on a daily basis, but who would have thought that certain supplements could also boost mood? In this part you will find out which dietary supplements have a mood-enhancing effect and how the whole thing works at all.
- B vitamins : Vitamins such as B6 and B12 not only convert certain hormones, but also promote the generation of happy hormones. In addition, a lack of vitamin B can inhibit the effect of antidepressants. So if you not only have a serotonin deficiency, but also a vitamin B deficiency, it would be beneficial to treat both deficiencies.
- Magnesium(9) : Some studies have shown that magnesium has a mood-enhancing effect by suppressing negative moods and promoting the production of feel-good hormones.
- Vitamin D : The concentration of vitamin D in our body is crucial for our mood, because vitamin D not only regulates the effectiveness of happiness hormones, but can even impair the effect of happiness hormones in the event of a deficiency.
- Omega-3 fatty acids : Certain studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can produce a natural antidepressant effect. However, there are still uncertainties regarding the effectiveness, which is why omega-3 fatty acids are not officially used as therapeutic measures.
A lack of serotonin may not be easy to diagnose, but treatment can usually produce promising results in a short period of time. To do this, you must first go to the doctor and have your serotonin levels checked. Depending on the extent of your deficiency, you will be shown appropriate treatment options.
Basically, a high serotonin deficiency is treated with medication because the symptoms have already intensified. For example, stress and a depressed mood can lead to depression in the long term. If left untreated, serious complications can arise.
However, if you have a low serotonin deficiency and want to avert worse, you can resort to more natural remedies. This gives you the opportunity to compensate for your serotonin deficit with food, dietary supplements or even with herbal products.
In any case, you should only consider these tips as supplementary support measures and should not avoid a visit to the doctor. Because, if we're being honest, who doesn't want to be showered with endorphins and live their life flawlessly without restrictions?
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