One of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain is serotonin, because it has a great impact on our mood. Furthermore, it can determine our behavior, sleep, or body temperature. All these conditions can be altered if serotonin levels are changed. For example, when the level of serotonin is low, the person usually suffers from depression or some other similar disorders. Fortunately, there are many ways in which we can enhance the production of serotonin, either naturally or by the means of certain medications.
Increasing serotonin levels
One of the ways in which we can increase the levels of serotonin is applying the Mediterranean diet. In one study in America it is proven that 42% of participants in the research increased the levels of serotonin while they were on this diet. This diet is very effective since it is consisted of high percentage of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, moderate intake 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 a method to foster the production of serotonin in a natural way. It is already known that exposure to light helps those people who suffer from seasonal depression, but it should be also known that this neurotransmitter also helps those who suffer from depression in general. It is proven that darkness influences the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that causes sleep, whereas on the 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 are indoors 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 levels can be increased if a person regularly exercises for at least 30 minutes five times a week. Exercises are as effective as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are actually antidepressants.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have the role to increase the levels of serotonin. These antidepressants must be prescribed by a doctor and cannot be bought over-the-counter. SSRIs increase the level of serotonin by blocking absorption of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain. In that manner, high amounts of serotonin stay in the brain. However, these antidepressants have their characteristic side effects, such as headaches, nausea, insomnia, and dry mouth as well as weight gain and sexual dysfunction. There are cases when serotonin syndrome may appear as the consequence of taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.