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What is serotonin deficiency?

Updated July 19, 2017

Serotonin is essential in the regulation of many bodily functions and cognitive activities. A deficiency in serotonin has been associated with the development of mood and emotional disorders.

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What Is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood, memory, sleep, appetite, sex drive, body temperature and some cognitive function and social behaviour.

Symptoms of Serotonin Deficiency

The symptoms associated with serotonin deficiency include anxiety, anger, sleep issues, irritability, chronic pain including head and body aches, cravings for carbohydrates and self-destructive behaviour.

Causes of Serotonin Deficiency

Low serotonin levels can be caused by a number of factors ranging from diet to genetics. A diet lacking in proteins, vitamins, and minerals that aid in neurotransmitter production may be attributed to low serotonin levels. Protein absorption may also be inhibited by genetic or digestive issues. Low levels may also be the result of certain drugs or antidepressants. Chronic stress and lack of sunlight have been connected to this deficiency as well.


Low serotonin levels have been connected with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


A physician may prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to normalise serotonin levels; however, there are also lifestyle changes that will help stabilise serotonin amounts. A diet rich in protein will provide the body with tryptophan, the amino acid responsible for the production of serotonin. Studies show that meditation, exercise and exposure to sunlight also increase serotonin levels.

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About the Author

Maegan Cleckley

Maegan Cleckley recently began her freelance writing career after graduating from college. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Spanish and political science, but enjoys writing about health and well-being She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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