One of the most important neurotransmitters in thebrain is serotonin, because it has a great impact on our mood. Furthermore, itcan determine our behavior, sleep, or body temperature. All these conditionscan be altered if serotonin levels are changed. For example, when the level of serotoninis low, the person usually suffers from depression or some other similardisorders. Fortunately, there are many ways in which we can enhance the productionof serotonin, either naturally or by the means of certain medications.
Increasing serotonin levels
One of the ways in which we can increase the levels ofserotonin is applying the Mediterranean diet. In one study in America it isproven that 42% of participants in the research increased the levels ofserotonin while they were on this diet. This diet is very effective since it isconsisted of high percentage of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, moderateintake of alcohol and daily products, and low intake of meat. Furthermore, consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as cereals and fish is highly recommended.
Many experts also recommend exposure to light as amethod to foster the production of serotonin in a natural way. It is alreadyknown that exposure to light helps those people who suffer from seasonaldepression, but it should be also known that this neurotransmitter also helpsthose who suffer from depression in general. It is proven that darknessinfluences the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that causes sleep, whereas onthe other side, serotonin is more produced when a person is exposed to light. Therefore,it is recommended to spend much time in the sun or to buy lights if you areindoors most of the time. Moreover, if a person has a low level of serotonin,exercises can do a great help. This study has proven that serotonin levelscan be increased if a person regularly exercises for at least 30 minutes fivetimes a week. Exercises are as effective as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are actually antidepressants.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) havethe role to increase the levels of serotonin. These antidepressants must beprescribed by a doctor and cannot be bought over-the-counter. SSRIs increasethe level of serotonin by blocking absorption of serotonin by certain nervecells in the brain. In that manner, high amounts of serotonin stay in thebrain. However, these antidepressants have their characteristic side effects,such as headaches, nausea, insomnia, and dry mouth as well as weight gain andsexual dysfunction. There are cases when serotonin syndrome may appear as theconsequence of taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.