What is Serotonin?

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What is serotonin? You might have heard or read of it before, most likely in some discussion about love and depression. Understanding what serotonin is could be beneficial not only to your mental health but also to your relationships.

Is it good or bad? Why are there medications that help increase or decrease its production in your brain? Take a look at these medications that increase serotonin levels. Some foods also affect your serotonin levels, like chocolate. You can check these top 10 most interesting facts about chocolate. In understanding serotonin, we will also take a look at some other ways it affects our lives.

What is Serotonin?

First off, let’s get to the bottom of things. What is serotonin? To put it simply, serotonin is a chemical that is found in the human body that is responsible for maintaining mood balance. When there is not enough serotonin production in your brain, you could experience depression. It’s a neurotransmitter though some also consider it to be a hormone.

To impart just a bit of technical knowledge, serotonin is made from an essential amino acid called tryptophan. It enters your body through certain foods like nuts and cheese and a deficiency of it could lower your serotonin levels. This can then lead to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

Functions of Serotonin

Now that you know what is serotonin, you must be curious what does it really do? Basically, it influences the majority of your brain cells. It impacts every part of your body from your emotions to motor skills. It’s the chemical that helps in sleeping, eating, and digesting.

  • Mood

    Serotonin regulates anxiety, happiness, and mood. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression while increased levels sometimes induced by medication can decrease arousal.

  • Sleep

    It is responsible for stimulating the parts of your brain that control sleep.

  • Bowel Movements

    Serotonin helps control your bowel movements and functions. That’s because it’s primarily in the stomach and intestines.

  • Nausea

    While there are many reasons why a person may get nausea, serotonin could play a part. When there is an increase of it in the blood, it stimulates the part of the brain that controls nausea.

Depression

So why is serotonin heavily present in the discussions about depression? After learning what is serotonin and its certain functions, let us take a closer look at its most popular effect. We know that an imbalance of this chemical leads to depression. It can also lead to obsessive compulsive disorder and excessive anger. Depression could lead one to feel isolated and hopeless. It is an excruciating illness.

Common antidepressant medications known as SSRI’s – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, helps boost serotonin levels. This will kick off the production of new brain cells and allow the depression to lift. This is a very common technique in treating depression.

Depression is Not A Flaw in Character

Perhaps the most important lesson we should learn in understanding what is serotonin is that depression is not a flaw in character. It is a chemical imbalance that is not because of a lack of positive attitude. No amount of positive attitude in the world can prevent depression. It is a medical condition that requires treatment. Take this to heart and remember to be kind the next time you see someone or know that someone is experiencing depression.

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