What is serotonin? What role does serotonin play? How do you boost this brain chemical? Have you wondered how serotonin leads to a better mood?
What Is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a brain chemical that leads the way in stabilizing your mood, your feelings of well-being as well as happiness. Like dopamine and norepinephrine, it’s a chemical that transmits messages between nerve cells in your brain.
At least 90% of serotonin is made in your body’s gut. In fact, your intestinal tract or gut has been called your second brain.
What Role Does Serotonin Play?
Along with regulating and stabilizing your mood, serotonin plays other roles. This brain chemical is also vital for regulating appetite and sleep as well as memory and learning.
Serotonin is a natural way to keep your appetite under control. It can help you feel full and as a result you’re eating less and losing weight.
It’s always been accepted that serotonin helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle. It plays a vital role in sleep, because your body uses it to create the sleep hormone melatonin.
When serotonin is at a normal level, it can boost your memory as well as your ability to learn.
There are many disorders linked to an imbalance of this vital brain chemical. These include ADHD, anxiety, depression and especially bipolar disorder.
How This Brain Chemical Affects Bipolar Disorder?
An imbalance of serotonin leads to many disorders. For example, it’s one of the main causes of bipolar disorder, which is a mental disorder caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. As a result, it causes extreme mood swings that are either mania or depression.
The exact cause of bipolar is unknown, but brain structure plays a huge role.
In a previous post, “Tips For Helping A Bipolar Brain”, we learned why the brain structure is so different. It’s due to a bipolar brain having problems with certain brain circuits as well as brain chemicals such as serotonin not working right.
Brain circuits have connections called neurons, they use electric pulses and brain chemicals to send information to different parts of your brain. When you have bipolar disorder, there’s a problem with these connections. As a result, you have an imbalance of serotonin as well as dopamine.
When the imbalance of these brain chemicals happens, it leads to extreme mood episodes. As a result, you can either be manic/hypomanic or depressed. Depending on which extreme you’re going through, you may be having problems with memory and focus as well as problems with either too little or too much sleep.
The imbalance of serotonin is made worse when you’re eating a poor diet, including one rich in simple carbs such as added sugar. It results in inflammation that can harm the neurons in your brain.
Inflammation also makes it harder for serotonin from your gut to make it up to your brain.
How Boosting Serotonin Leads To A Better Mood?!
Serotonin leads to not only a stable mood but also to other vital functions. However, if you have a disorder such as ADHD or bipolar disorder, you may have an imbalance.
How To Boost Serotonin?
1. Medication And Therapy:
If you have a mental disorder such as bipolar disorder, the first thing to do is to get help from a healthcare provider.
When you have bipolar disorder, your doctor will prescribe medications to manage mood episodes. For example, manic or hypomanic episodes are controlled with mood stabilizers such as lithium. Also, antidepressants such as Prozac are used as well.
It’s vital to be in touch with your doctor about how you feel. Also, you should bring up any side effects from the meds you were prescribed.
Everybody who has bipolar disorder is different. The treatment that works for one patient may not work for another. Along with meds, bipolar disorder is also treated with therapy as well. Therapy can include talk therapy, group therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Alongside meds and therapy, many bipolar patients can benefit from self-care. This can include diet change, exercise, supplements as well as spending time outdoors.
2. Changing Your Diet:
It was mentioned earlier that a poor diet rich in simple carbs can make bipolar disorder worse.
When you’re adopting self-care strategies for managing bipolar symptoms, have you ever thought about changing your diet?
Many of the foods you should consider contain a valuable amino acid called tryptophan. It works by helping your body produce serotonin.
What Foods Contain Tryptophan?
- Nuts and Seeds
- Poultry Products
- Milk and Cheese
It’s also recommended that you eat foods rich in B vitamins. It’s vitamins B-1, B-3, B-6 as well as B-9 that help your body use tryptophan to produce serotonin, which leads to a better mood.
Here’s a related post, “B Vitamins For A Better Mind!”
Regular exercise is one of the fastest ways to boost serotonin levels in the brain.
Exercising is not only beneficial for your physical health but also your mental health as well.
Aerobic exercise is recommended for at least 30 minutes per workout. It benefits your mental health in many ways, including reducing stress and cortisol levels. Also, it helps your body produce endorphins, which help stimulate other brain chemicals such as serotonin.
Read this post to learn more about endorphins: “Let’s Explore Endorphins”
Taking supplements are a good way to boost brain chemicals like serotonin. Higher levels of it may provide many benefits, such as improving bipolar symptoms.
Supplements you should try include multi-vitamins, omega 3s as well as probiotics.
Before taking any supplements, please talk to your doctor.
If you want to learn more about probiotics, here’s a related post: “Probiotics For Bipolar Disorder”
5. Spend More Time Outside:
A natural way to boost brain chemicals like serotonin is to spend time outdoors.
Did you know that exposure to natural light from the sun boosts serotonin?
When you’re going for a nature walk or hiking along your favorite trail, you’re mood gets a boost because of sunlight.
Also, you’ll get the added bonus of getting more oxygen. Breathing in fresh air raises the level oxygen in your brain. As a result, serotonin gets a boost and it leads to a better mood.
How Do You Boost Your Mood?
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