Serotonin is one of four main neurotransmitters of the brain and body, along with acetylcholine, dopamine, and GABA. – WebMD
What is serotonin?
Serotonin (ser-o-TOE-nin) is one of four chemicals that carry signals along nerves; hence the name neurotransmitter. 80 to 90 percent of serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal tract, or gut, and is crucial to both brain and body functions.
The chemical is created through biochemical conversion. The building block of serotonin is tryptophan, which is also the foundational component of proteins. Tryptophan binds with hydroxylase, which creates a chemical reaction that produces 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HTP), otherwise known as serotonin.
(Note: we realize some of these unpronounceable words can be a bit frustrating. This writer decided to include the scientific names of chemicals, medications, etcetera, as they may be important to someone who is at risk of Serotonin Syndrome; especially if they are communicating with a doctor or health professional.)
Why is serotonin important?
Serotonin is important for a variety of reasons. It’s known mostly for its role in regulating mood, but it also helps normalize appetite, digestion, social behavior and sleep. Cognitively, serotonin primarily affects learning and memory functions.
It’s also known as an important chemical for happiness and well-being, which is what comes to most people’s minds.
What happens if we’re deficient in serotonin?
Well, as an important chemical for sending and receiving nerve signals, the lack of serotonin disrupts internal “communication.” It is this disruption that causes the various adverse psychological effects, such as depression, lowered sexual desire and function; as well as disrupted sleep, memory, and learning.
Outside of the brain, serotonin affects the functioning of the cardiovascular system, endocrine (n-doe-crin) system, and various muscles. Per WebMD, there is some evidence that “a defect within the serotonin system may be one underlying cause of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).”
Serotonin syndrome is the mirror opposite of serotonin deficiency. As mentioned, it is serotonin deficiency that causes depression. It is important to remember this point, as deficiency is much more widespread than Serotonin Syndrome.
So again, serotonin deficiency = depression and excessive serotonin = other sicknesses (or Serotonin Syndrome.)
Serotonin Syndrome on the other hand, occurs when there’s an excessive amount of nerve cell activity, which can be a fatal condition.
What causes Serotonin Syndrome?
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