Serotonin is a special chemical produced by an individual’s nerve cells that is responsible for sending signals from one nerve cell to the next. Individuals have serotonin present in their central nervous system, digestive system, and blood platelets.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and serotonin is produced from an amino acid called tryptophan. When an individual does not consume enough of this amino acid in their diet, they can develop a deficiency of serotonin in their body.
Serotonin deficiency is a condition that produces several adverse symptoms. Serotonin plays major roles in processes that control depression, anxiety, wound healing, bone health, nausea stimulation, sleep mechanisms, appetite, and mechanisms of digestion.
What is Serotonin?
An individual who has the right amount of serotonin in their body will feel calm, happy, focused, and emotionally stable. Learn what is serotonin now.
Function In the Body
Serotonin is necessary for several processes and functions in an individual’s body. The highest concentration of serotonin in an individual’s body is contained within their stomach and intestines.
Serotonin allows nerves to communicate in these organs and the muscles around them that control bowel function and movements. Serotonin is also found in an individual’s brain, where it has great influence over their mood.
It is also a critical part of the system that causes an individual to feel nauseated. Serotonin levels in the blood that rise rapidly cause the stimulation of the part of an individual’s brain that controls when they feel nauseated.
It is an important player in the way an individual sleeps at night and wakes up in the morning because it controls parts of the brain that manage these processes. Serotonin also takes part in the ability of an individual’s body to heal wounds by causing arterial constriction, which makes it easier for the body to form blood clots.
Serotonin is also influential over an individual’s bone health because high levels of this chemical can cause an imbalance in the bone recycling process that leads to osteoporosis.
Symptoms of a Serotonin Deficiency
An individual needs to have a proper and healthy level of serotonin in their blood, which is defined as a level between 101 and 283 nanograms per milliliter.
Serotonin levels that are too high are referred to as carcinoid syndrome, while lower than normal levels are referred to as serotonin deficiency. Serotonin deficiency causes several physical symptoms, including insomnia, carbohydrate cravings, fatigue, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, and weight gain.
Psychological symptoms include anxiety, aggression, irritability, poor appetite, depressed mood, impulsive behavior, low self-esteem, and poor memory. The exact causes of serotonin deficiency and its pattern among the population are not understood, but it is thought to be influenced by several factors.
An individual who has fewer serotonin receptors, defective serotonin receptors, overabsorption of serotonin, L-tryptophan deficiency, vitamin B-6 deficiency, omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, or vitamin D deficiency is more likely to become deficient in serotonin.
Serotonin syndrome is a potentially dangerous condition where an individual experiences an inappropriate elevation of serotonin concentrations in their body due to taking certain medications.
Serotonin syndrome is caused by serotonergic drugs or medications change the levels of serotonin in an individual’s body. An individual who takes one or more of these medications can develop serotonin syndrome when their dosage is increased as well as when they intentionally or unintentionally overdose on the medication.
An individual may develop serotonin syndrome when they take two different serotonergic medications simultaneously. Several medications have been implicated in causing this condition.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that include fluoxetine, paroxetine, and citalopram have been known to induce this condition, as have serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as venlafaxine, duloxetine, and desvenlafaxine.
Other medications that can cause serotonin syndrome include phenelzine, tranylcypromine, nortriptyline, trimipramine, and bupropion.
Serotonin and Depression
It is thought that an individual who does not have enough receptor sites to receive serotonin can develop depression, as well as those who have a malfunction that causes serotonin to be unable to reach the receptor sites.
Others have concluded depression has more association with a lack of new brain cell regeneration in an individual because serotonin helps stimulate brain cell production.
Despite numerous theories about how levels of serotonin in an individual’s brain can cause depression, there is no method available to measure the amount of serotonin inside of a living human brain.
Blood levels of serotonin are measurable and thought to correlate with the levels of serotonin in an individual’s brain, but this has not been proven. Researchers have conducted studies that revealed individuals who have depression also tend to have lower blood serotonin levels.
Uses for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a type of antidepressant, which can help an individual’s body utilize serotonin with better efficiency. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors meet this goal by making more serotonin available.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by stopping serotonin uptake by the presynaptic receptors, which allows the serotonin present in the individual to be able to bind to postsynaptic receptors.
This gives serotonin an opportunity to be better concentrated in the area between the end of the individual’s neurons or synapses. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are not able to create more serotonin, but they do help their body use it in the most optimal way possible.
There are numerous types of different selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications that can be used to treat an individual’s serotonin deficiency, but the medications used most often include citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, escitalopram, and sertraline.