What is Serotonin (Happiness hormone)?
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that transmits electrical signals between the nerve cells, also known as the happiness hormone, is primarily found in the brain, the intestines and in blood thrombocytes. It is produced by the body.
What is the function of Serotonin?
Alongside its task of transmitting information between nerve cells and regulating digestion it has also an impact on physical and psychological functions.
The serotonin produced in the intestines acts on digestion, whereas the serotonin produced in the brain is used in the central nervous system and plays an important role in the emotional state, some social behavior, sleep, appetite, memory and sexual drive. A low serotonin level leads to a reduction and deterioration in these functions.
The Hormone Serotonin and Psychiatric Disorders
Serotonin which affects a person’s state of happiness, anxiety and serenity is particularly associated with depression. However, whether depression is a result of a low serotonin level or whether a low serotonin level causes depression is not known. Notwithstanding, it is found to be relevant in psychological disorders like schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder and in diseases like migraine, obesity.
Serotonin and Drugs
A low serotonin level can be increased through antidepressants prescribed under the doctor’s supervision. Antidepressants aim to prevent the existing serotonin from crossing between neurons, thereby increasing the amount of serotonin available and reducing the symptoms of depression. However, as each antidepressant can have a different effect on different people antidepressants have to be used under the doctor’s supervision.
Raising the Serotonin level by Natural Means
Certain food items and changes in the life style can raise the serotonin level. Meat, milk, eggs, cheese, dried nuts which are high in tryptophan; and bananas, avocados, full corn food, sunflower seeds which contain Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 help to raise the serotonin level. In addition, utilizing sunlight and taking Vitamin D, exercising during the day and most importantly keeping stress out of your life, allowing time for hobbies that benefit you will help in increasing your serotonin level and in feeling happier.