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Depression and Serotonin

The concept of depression has been traced back to the origin of ancient history of medicine. It is one of the most pervaded psychological condition affecting individuals globally. Sample studies reveal that depression and something like attachment disorder in adults affects people at an alarming rate of 15 % of the time yearly, while men suffer approximately half this duration. Serotonin and depression have been studied in parallel by neuro-biologists worldwide.


The word depression is usually used to connote negative emotions of despair, hopelessness, hollowness etc. and is usually characterized by insomnia, loss of appetite, seclusion from social gatherings, decreased levels of energy and interest and deteriorated moods even in the absence of any environmental triggers. Depression may be prompted by loss or bereavement, humiliation or disappointment etc. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for alleviating positive feelings in individuals like B12 does in vitamin form. Many researches have been conducted by renowned psychiatrists on the relationship between serotonin and depression that have yielded meaningful insights.

Evidence Of Serotonin Connection With Depression

Clinical studies directed towards understanding serotonin connection with depression reveal that a low level of serotonin in the human body is believed to be the leading biological cause of depression. Researchers studying the brain activity of people suffering from depression have found tangible evidence of serotonin connection with depression. The cerebrospinal fluid of patients with symptoms of depression exhibit lower than normal levels of serotonin metabolites. For instance patients with suicidal tendencies clearly illustrate low levels of serotonin in the brain.

How Is Serotonin Linked To Depression

How is serotonin linked to depression is a question raised by many researchers. Findings indicate that while low levels of serotonin induce depression amongst individuals, the life history and upbringing of different people either foster or feed on the serotonin levels. Negative historical events such as fatality of loved ones, abuse and abandonment are known to deplete the level of serotonin in the brain, while children brought up in positive environments with a lot of care and attention display high levels of serotonin in their systems.

Contrarily, another school of thought advocates that just like cardiovascular diseases and mental illnesses are hereditary in nature, sound serotonergic systems are also passed on genetically. Serotonin levels in an individual are regulated by a gene known as SERT. A defect in this gene has been identified by researchers as a cause of low serotonin production in the brain. Thus, patients with family history of depression are more likely to suffer from the same as the defected SERT gene is passed on hereditarily.
The dilemma:  “Are low levels of serotonin linked to depression or if depression leads to low-levels of serotonin” remains unclear.

Altering Serotonin Levels And Depression Effects

The good news is that the revolutionary findings in the relationship between serotonin and depression have made it possible for doctors to alter the levels of serotonin in the brain and thus treat depression.  A number of anti-depressants have been formulated by pharmaceutical companies that increase serotonin levels and depression effects are thus negated. These medications increase the level of serotonin in the brain cells by either blocking their absorption into the cells or by hindering the degeneration of serotonin in the brain. Vigorous exercise and a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C and complex carbohydrates are also known to affect serotonin levels and depression positively.