Serotonin and its Link to Depression

There are many researchers who believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that can lead to depression.


Are you sufficiently positive, happy, confident, flexible, and easy-going? If not, you may have a serotonin deficiency.

© Marcos Calvo Mesa |

There are many researchers who believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that can lead to depression… but also possibly to other neurological problems, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic, and even excess anger. This is what scientists theorize because there is no way to measure serotonin levels in the living brain. And while blood levels of serotonin are measurable—and have been shown to be lower in people who suffer from depression—what doctors still don’t know for certain is whether or not the dip in serotonin causes the depression, or the depression causes serotonin levels to drop.

Why do serotonin levels get depleted in humans?

The answer is two-fold. The first part is that this and other neurotransmitters become depleted by various direct factors—for example, excessive stress, excessive carbohydrate consumption (especially sugar), adrenal glands dysfunction, or lack of deep restorative sleep, or because of prescription drug side effects.

The second part of the answer is that newly produced neurotransmitters are not being generated in adequate quantities by the body, and this occurs largely because of nutrient deficiencies or a combination of nutrient deficiencies and genetics. If your body has the proper raw materials (food nutrients), it can restore the brain chemicals to their desired levels.

But because our modern Western diet is often void of such key nutrients as omega-3 fats and B vitamins and amino acids, the body can’t build enough of the neurotransmitters back to prevent depression from occurring.

The way to address the neurotransmitter problem is to correct both facets of the deficiency:

  • Correct the factors that are depleting the needed brain chemicals
  • Make sure you’re getting the needed nutrients to enable your body to make its own neurotransmitters and thus restore them to adequate levels.

Do You Have Serotonin Deficiency?

Just knowing the role this brain chemical plays, gives you strong clues as to whether you’re deficient or not. Are you sufficiently positive, happy, confident, flexible, and easy-going? If not, you may have a serotonin deficiency. Consider the following questions:

Is your depression negative in nature? That is, are your thoughts frequently pessimistic, gloomy, distrustful, and cynical?

Are you a woman? Women have depression more often than men and when they do, serotonin deficiencies are more often a factor than in men. On the other hand, when men become depressed, they seem to more often have dopamine deficiencies where their depression is expressed as apathy or lack of interest or lack of the ability to focus. This doesn’t mean that men can’t have serotonin deficiency and women can’t have dopamine deficiency—they can—but the general tendency is the other way around.

Do you crave sweets and starches? These are foods like breads and potato chips and any sugar-laden food. These foods temporarily raise serotonin levels and make you feel better so your body craves them.

Do you have significant insomnia issues? This includes waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep and having to sleep in many different positions in order to feel comfortable.

Do you have feelings of low self-esteem? That is, you’ve lost your confidence and sense of self-worth. You easily become critical of yourself or feel guilty about something you’re doing or not doing.

Do you often feel worried or apprehensive? You might even have had anxiety attacks or panic attacks where your heart races and it’s hard to breathe.

Have you had any of the following disorders: Fibromyalgia (unexplained muscle pain), TMJ (pain, tension, and grinding associated with your jaw), migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, or asthma? Each of these have low serotonin levels implicated as an associated cause, and studies have shown where raising serotonin levels improves the condition severity.

Do these symptoms sound like you? If so, it is likely your body has become depleted of adequate levels of serotonin.

For more information about serotonin deficiency and how to treat it, purchase Natural Remedies for Depression at

And for related reading, visit these posts:

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Alison Palkhivala

Alison Palkhivala is an award-winning writer and journalist specializing in lifestyle, nutrition, health, and medicine. She has authored the Belvoir special report Overcoming Depression and the University Health News book … Read More

View all posts by Alison Palkhivala

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