Serotonin is a hormone which is found in the human brain. It is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for transfer of electric signals in the brain. Other than information transmission, serotonin is also known to be a vasoconstrictor. This implies that the additional function of this neurotransmitter is to cause the narrowing of blood vessels. This neurotransmitter is produced by an amino acid in the body called tryptophan.
Serotonin is also present in other parts of the body like platelets and the digestive tract not just in humans but in many animals as well. This is also available in products from plants like fruits, vegetables and in mushrooms too.
It is responsible for the overall happy feeling in the mind. It is a good mood regulator. It also relieves depression and regulates anxiety or temper. This hormone also plays an important part in regulating feelings like appetite, sexuality or aggression. The sensation of vomiting is induced by this hormone. Another important role of this hormone is in the regulation of body metabolism and temperature.
Anti-depressants which elevate low moods target the levels of this hormone in the body. The medicines termed as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), which are available in the names of Nardil and Marplan over the counters work towards not allowing break-down of these neurotransmitters. The increased numbers of serotonins in the brain cause relief from depression. One should note that not all anti-depressants work towards increasing serotonin levels for mood uplifting. Frequent or self administration of such medicines is not recommended due to the side effects they have and also because they can react with medications administered for other medical conditions.
Medicines like Zoloft, Prozac and Celexa termed as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are more recommended to uplift one’s mood due to the fewer side effects and the compatibility with most of the medicines used to treat other body ailments.
One should not have very high levels os serotonin in the body since it can become toxic or fatal too. A condition in which the serotonin levels are extremely high is referred to as serotonin syndrome. Mere overdose of the antidepressants will not cause the levels to reach toxic levels. When the MAOI and SSRI medications are administered in a combination, the possibility of such levels being reached is probable. The overdose need not always result in toxicity or turn fatal. The individual may suffer from the symptoms of the syndrome, but the levels of the medication may not reach toxic levels.
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- Anxiety And Neurotransmitters
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- What Is Neurotransmitter Dopamine ?
- What Is Neurotransmitter Serotonin ?
- What Might Happen If Your Body Lacked Neurotransmitters ?
- Where Are Neurotransmitters Produced ?
WiseGeek: What Is Serotonin?