Serotonin is a very useful chemical in the body and it has a variety of functions which are very important to carry out. This is also known as the happy chemical and it maintains the wellbeing and happiness of humans. There are a number of ways with the help of which it can be created however, it is created mostly by a biochemical conversion that combines tryptophan. Tryptophan is a component of protein which is also a chemical reactor. It has a very important role in the human body and it is supposed to work as a neurotransmitter however most of the times it works as a hormone. The major areas of the body in which it is produced are the intestine and the brain. It is also found in the brain and in the intestine, the central nervous system and the blood platelets. It is present in a number of organs in the body which makes it a very important part of the overall system and helps in carrying out a number of psychological functions in the body. Serotonin do not have the potential to cross the blood-brain barrier therefore, it must be produced inside the brain for proper functioning.
There are a number of functions which are to be performed by serotonin. It is because of the nature of serotonin that it is assigned a number of jobs in the central nervous system. There are a number of studies which have found a link between the serotonin and the bone metabolism, regeneration of the liver and the cell division. There is a direct or indirect influence of serotonin on the brain cells. Following are some of the functions where serotonin comes in to play.
- Serotonin is found mostly in the GI tract which is why it plays an important role in the bowel function and also plays an important part in reducing appetite while eating.
- It also helps in elevating the mood of a person as it impacts the level of mood and there are certain drugs like ecstasy and LSD which uplifts the mood of a person.
- Serotonin also contributes towards formation of blood clots. Platelets in the body helps in secreting serotonin when there is a wound. Serotonin helps in forming the clot and stop the blood flow.
- If a person eats something which causes irritation in the body or an allergic reaction occurs than gut produces serotonin which helps in expelling the irritant with the help of causing diarrhea. This may lead to nausea in most of the people, however it depends on person to person because every person has a different body structure.
- Some scientists have also come up with the reasoning that increase in the level of serotonin can cause osteoporosis. However, this is just a hypothesis and it has no proven evidence.
- Serotonin also inhibits sexual activity and there are certain kinds of serotonin boosters which can enhance the level of sexual function but these are also associated with side effects.
There is no proper evidence when it comes to the relation between serotonin and depression but there have been a number of hypothesis which states that serotonin causes an imbalance of neurotransmitters which directly affects the state of overall hormones in the body leading to depression. Low levels of serotonin have been linked with depression but the actual state of this link remains unclear to the date as there is no specific evidence for that. There are a number of symptoms which tell about the lower level of serotonin and are defined as the symptoms for the lower level of the serotonin.
- It causes poor memory and low mood.
- If serotonin level gets low in the body, body craves for the sweet and starchy foods.
- One may also experience difficulty in sleeping.
- Anxiety and aggression also become very prominent in people who have lower levels of serotonin.
All those people who take drugs which alleviate the level of serotonin in the body are most likely to experience all these side effects. This is because of the fact that one the effect of these drugs wear out in a day or two and people feel depressed due to that. These drugs are also involved in damaging the nerves that are responsible for generating serotonin. This have a very adverse effect on the human body, therefore these drugs should be avoided at every cost.
SSRI is a treatment for serotonin and it increases the level of the serotonin by preventing it from getting reabsorbed in the vessels. The level of serotonin is believed to elevate the mood by remaining in higher quantities in the brain. Following are the FDA approved treatment for the depression:
However, there are some disadvantages and side effects of using SSRI and some of them are as follows:
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Weight loss or weight gain depending on the physical attributes of the person.
- People may also experience increase in sweating.
- Dizziness due to higher level of serotonin.
- Sleepiness or insomnia varying from person to person.
- Sexual dysfunction and suicidal thoughts in the extreme cases.
If a person takes two serotonin boosting drugs at a same time than he/she may fall to the serotonin syndrome. Therefore, it is important to make sure that one is careful while using drugs associated with serotonin. Following are some signs of the serotonin syndrome which leads to the excessive activity of the nerves.
- Restlessness and irritation.
- Dilation of the pupil with headaches and sweating.
- Some people may also lose muscle co-ordination.
- Diarrhea and shivering.
- Muscle stiffness.
It is important to make sure that if these kind of symptoms are present in a person than he/she must be provided with immediate medical attention and oxygen level of the person should be maintained in order to make the patient stable. There are number of fruits and eatables which also causes the level of serotonin in the body to grow, therefore, it is important to make sure that one gets to know about the advantages and disadvantages of serotonin in order to use it better.