Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Elevated serotonin levels contribute to improved mood, upbeat emotions and higher energy levels, while lower serotonin levels have been linked to depression and similar emotional disorders. You can replace depleted serotonin levels through a number of methods. Some, like prescribed antidepressants, require a doctor's advice, but you can apply many easily in your everyday life.
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Take antidepressants. The most common are SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants such as Zoloft and Prozac, which increase serotonin levels in the brain. Many of them have side effects, and not all of them are right for some patients. You should always talk to a qualified physician before getting a prescription. Most antidepressants are recommended only for people struggling with depression or other emotional difficulties.
Exercise. Regular exercise such as running, biking or swimming helps stimulate serotonin production in the brain. Try to establish a daily routine--even 15 or 20 minutes a day works wonders--and endeavour to exercise in the sunshine if your local weather permits it. Yoga and breathing exercises are particularly good for boosting serotonin levels and helping you feel your best.
Eat foots high in protein. They contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which transforms into serotonin when it reaches your brain. Foods with plenty of tryptophan include eggs, poultry, fish, nuts, cheese (especially cottage cheese) and beans. Try to eat them with healthy complex carbohydrates like brown rice or buckwheat. They help the brain convert the tryptophan into serotonin more readily.
Look for herbs and natural supplements that help boost serotonin levels. You can easily take B vitamins, found in oats, avocados, salmon, Brazil nuts and wheat bran, as well as in tablets and caplets. You can also use ginseng, oatstraw, dandelion root and wild yam.
Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. When you don't sleep well, it interferes with your brain's ability to produce serotonin. Set regular times to get to bed and wake up, with a solid eight hours' rest in the interim. If you have a hard time getting to sleep, plan for an hour of "relaxation time" before bed, in which you read or practice gentle breathing exercises.
Tips and warnings
- Stay away from sugary foods, fast foods, caffeine and alcohol, if you want to keep your serotonin levels high. They give you a brief boost of energy but also sap you of important hormones over time.
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