Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps communicate messages between areas in the brain. Most brain cells are influenced by serotonin. Besides the brain, serotonin also affects the heart and muscles. When serotonin levels become unbalanced, a person may experience depression. People who suffer from depression usually have low levels of serotonin in their blood. Some people take supplements like St. John's Wart or tryptophan to help elevate serotonin levels; however, these supplements may not be effective. Antidepressant medications are usually successful in helping people boost serotonin levels, but there are also other ways to replenish serotonin.
- Skill level:
Sit out in the sun for 20 to 30 minutes every day without wearing glasses to help replenish serotonin. Keep your eyes closed and relax while your body absorbs nutrients from the sun. Take walks outside. Try to spend as much time as possible outside in nature.
Exercise to replenish serotonin. Regular aerobic exercise will not only increase serotonin levels, it will also create an overall sense of well-being and physical fitness.
Eat a balanced diet with protein and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Whey protein also helps boost serotonin levels. Since people react differently to carbohydrates, experiment with food to find a favourable balance between the amount of protein and the amount of carbohydrates in your diet.
Meditate to replenish serotonin levels. Listening to music, praying and relaxing with your eyes closed for a few minutes each day will help increase serotonin levels.
Take omega-3 and vitamin B-complex supplements daily. Essential fatty acids help increase blood flow, which will improve serotonin levels. Vitamin B deficiencies may reduce serotonin levels.
Talk with a psychologist about prescribing a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor medication (SNRI). SSRI and SNRI drugs can help replenish serotonin levels; however, these medications may have possible side effects such as nausea, dizziness, weight gain, dry mouth and constipation.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and sugar.
- Always speak with a doctor before taking supplements like St. John's Wart and tryptophan, especially if you are taking antidepressant medication.
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