Mood disorders: Understanding serotonin in our brain

By: Odalys Waugh, Ph.D.

Serotonin, a chemical that the body produces naturally, is a neurotransmitter that modulates neural activity and a wide range of neuropsychological processes.

Let us start discussing how we can function the best and harm our bodies without caring for them. Let us discuss serotonin, a chemi-cal that sends signals between your nerve cells.

 This neurotransmitter may help regulate many body functions, including mood, bowel movements, and sleep. When serotonin levels are high, it can cause the person to have a panic attack, which you can control through breathing exercises in different ways.

 According to scientists, serotonin is present in many parts of your body; one of them is the stomach, which is why this portion of the digestive system has been considered a second brain.

 Medications, supplements, and substances that affect serotonin levels include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Serotonin is also found in St. John’s wort, S-adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe), tryptophan amphetamines, and cocaine. Hence, we need to be careful about what these drugs do to our bodies by establishing a system to create serotonin properly, like the SSRIs.

 Too much serotonin causes signs and symptoms ranging from mild (shivering and diarrhea) to severe (muscle rigidity, fever, and seizures). Severe serotonin syndrome can cause death, if not treated. That is why doctors can check the serotonin levels through a blood analysis to diagnose and treat the condition accordingly.

 Serotonin is very important to control our mood and how we can function the best with the right amounts in our body. Dr. Michael D. Gershon brings this topic to the table with his book The second brain, which states that we now know that there is a brain in the bowel, however inappropriate that concept might seem.

 «The ugly gut is more intellectual than the heart and may have a greater capacity for feelings,» said Dr. Gerson in his book. Please do not underestimate the power the gut has in our body and how it functions in the brain. Working with the stomach together can create an intelligent human capable of healthily designing a nervous system in the most critical element.

 If we are in a stage of depression, it could be treated with SSRI medication to regulate and balance our serotonin production. We should also look at the output of this chemical in the enteric nervous system to find more availability to create a good brain and gut production of serotonin in our bodies.

 Certain conditions, like bipolar disorder, are good examples of serotonin depletion. The person falls from depression when serotonin is stored in neurons and is not working in the system because of an imbalance.

Once the neuron is complete, it will open to release a large amount of serotonin stored, and suddenly, the person rises to a mania level. Medications will help regulate this condition, and the affected individual can function normally if they take the medicine.