How Serotonin can Impact Depression

neurotransmitter picture During the holiday season more people suffer with depression than at any other time during the year. Often, depression worsens for those who already live with depression on a daily basis. Due to information gathered in a number of studies there are some new perspectives on the role of hormones in the brain and depression. The most well known being serotonin which acts as a neurotransmitter and a hormone.

Serotonin has been shown to affect mood, sleep, memory and learning, sexual desire and function, social behavior, temperature regulation and digestive function. Serotonin has to be produced in our bodies because we cannot get it directly from food. What we do get from food are proteins that contain the materials necessary to manufacture serotonin. The main building block for serotonin is an amino acid called L-tryptophan which is found in high concentrations in dairy, nuts, chicken, and turkey. 90% of serotonin produced in our body is found in the digestive system and blood platelets while the other 10% resides in the brain.

Serotonin impacts several different body systems, however, most of the articles I found relating to serotonin deal with its relationship to depression and the brain. Even though medically there is a commonly held belief that low levels or deficiency of serotonin in the brain play a role in depression, there is no way to accurately measure the serotonin levels in the brain. Yet studies show that low levels of serotonin in the blood are found in people diagnosed with depression. So it is not clear whether depression causes a decrease in serotonin or if a decrease in serotonin causes depression. What is clear is there are strong correlations between depression and serotonin levels.

During this holiday season if you find yourself experiencing depression considering starting the new year with a comprehensive medical check up. Dr. Dae will be starting her comprehensive programs in 2011. Look for the details in the near future.

For more information on the relationship between serotonin and sleep disorders please read my blogs on