Serotonin appears to be one of the major players in mood disorders. Recent studies show that mood disorders may be caused by a loss of humans’ inherent reflexive avoidance of aversive events.
What is serotonin?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or a chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. It is produced in the brain and it is where it performs its primary functions. However, around 90% of serotonin supplies are found in digestive tract and blood platelets. Serotonin influence a great number of psychological and bodily functions. Around 40 million brain cells are under a direct or indirect command of serotonin, including those related to mood, sexual function and desire, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and social behavior. Bodily functions influenced by serotonin include cardiovascular functioning, muscles and endocrine system.
Men have somewhat more serotonin than women and some of the recent studies show there is a factual difference in how men and women react to serotonin reduction. Men are becoming more impulsive but not essentially depressed while women experience mood dropping and become more cautious and depressed.
Serotonin and depression
Imbalance in serotonin levels may have an effect on mood and eventually lead to depression. A number of biochemical flaws may lead to various mood disorders. Some of them include low brain cell production of serotonin, a lack of receptors able to receive the produced serotonin, inability of serotonin to reach the receptors, shortage in chemicals from which serotonin is produced…
A common belief is that serotonin deficiency causes depression; however, there is no way to measure serotonin levels in the brain of a living human being. On the other hand, blood levels of serotonin are measurable and it has been shown they are lower in people suffering from depression. What remains unclear is whether the lack of serotonin causes depression or depression causes low serotonin levels. Antidepressant medications based on serotonin actually reduce symptoms of depression; still it is not yet clear how they work.Boosting a serotonin levels
Changing life habits and the diet usually leads to beneficial effects to one’s health. Regular exercise and good dieting may also increase serotonin levels. However, there are no foods that can directly increase body’s serotonin levels. Proper dieting may help raising the production of chemicals from which serotonin is made, and accordingly affect a supply of serotonin in a roundabout way. Foods like meat or chicken, milk products, nuts and fowl should be used regularly. A sufficient supply of vitamins B-6 influences the rate of serotonin production.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to treat depression and mood disorders. Just 40 minutes of regular exercise shows an instant effect on mood. Exercise may increase serotonin levels and thus affect the wellbeing, but it is not clear how it actually works. A research into this area continues.