The four main neurotransmitters of the brain and body are acetylcholine, dopamine, Serotonin, and GABA. In this article, we will be focusing on the Serotonin.
What is serotonin?
Serotonin is one of the four chemicals that transport signals along nerves; hence the name neurotransmitter. The larger amount of serotonin amounting from 80 to 90 per cent is mainly found in the gastrointestinal tract, or gut, and is crucial to both brain and body functions. The chemical is formed through biochemical conversion.
The building block of serotonin is tryptophan, which is also the fundamental component of proteins. The tryptophan binds with hydroxylase which creates a chemical reaction that produces 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HTP), which is also known as serotonin.
Why is serotonin essential?
There are several reasons why you need serotonin. It is effective in regulating mood and aside that, it can also help to normalize appetite, digestion, social behavior and sleep. Cognitively, serotonin primarily affects learning and memory functions. It is also very essential chemical for happiness and well-being, which is what most people, thinks of.
What is the result of serotonin deficiency?
As we are all aware that serotonin is an important chemical for sending and receiving nerve signals, the deficiency of serotonin disrupts internal “communication”. This disruption can cause the various adverse psychological effects, which include depression, lowered sexual desire and functions; so also disruption of sleep, memory, and learning.
Far away from the brain, serotonin affects the functioning of the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and various muscles. According to Per WebMD, there is some evidence that “a defect within the serotonin system may be one underlying cause of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)”.
Serotonin syndrome is the mirror opposite of serotonin deficiency. As mentioned, it is serotonin deficiency that leads to depression. It is essential to note that as deficiency is much more widespread than serotonin syndrome.
This implies that, serotonin deficiency equals depression and excessive serotonin equals other sicknesses (or serotonin syndrome). It is also important to note that serotonin syndrome happens when there is an excessive amount of nerve cell activity which can be a fatal condition.
What causes serotonin syndrome?
The serotonin syndrome may happen when someone is taking certain medications known to affect the production of serotonin. According to Per WebMD, the greatest risk of serotonin syndrome exist when you are taking two or more drugs and/or supplements together that influence serotonin. In most cases, serotonin syndrome happens when you first start a medicine or increase the dose.
Succinctly, the primary cause of serotonin syndrome is prescription of medicine. Meanwhile, the most commonly prescribed class of medications that affect serotonin levels are antidepressants.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) operates by blocking reabsorption of the chemical in the brain which therefore increases the amount of serotonin available. Although, SSRIs are selective and do not usually affect other neurotransmitters. The common known SSRIS are Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine (Paxil or Pexeva), Sertraline (Zoloft), and Vilazodone (Viibryd).