Serotonin Defined: Understanding serotonin

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This write up seeks to provide information about understanding serotonin. We take an in-depth look at the feel-good hormone that affects our mood every day. We will look at how the serotonin level affects our body balance and mood, as just mentioned, food cravings, diet, and to raise or increase its levels in your body.

All right then, let us start by defining serotonin: This is a hormone found in the body and facilitates communication between neurons or nerve cells in the body. These neurons are simply cells of the nervous system – a system that carries nerve impulses between cells. You can say they transmit electrical signals from one cell to the other.

These neurons continuously communicate in between themselves so that our bodies are functioning properly. They regulate our body processes. Imagine employees working together all day to make sure that the operations of a business are kept smooth all day long. This is basically what the cells or neurons do in our bodies.

Now for them to be in touch with each other, they need a neurotransmitter ((scientifically called 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT), serotonin to make sure messages are transported to and from each of the cells. Much like the workers would need a network (computers connected to each other) to be able to send messages across and communicate.

Let’s get our hands a bit dirty here by reviewing the neurons or cells a bit. These are essentially joined by dendrites and axons.

An axon is a nerve fiber that is long and thin – it is a projection of a nerve cell, which conducts electrical impulses away from the neurons’ cells body or soma – by extension, they, therefore, take messages away from the brain. Consider these the cables that make up the network in your office, they take away information from the server. They are essentially the transmission lines of the nervous systems. This means that as bundles collectively they make up what we call nerves.

Now dendrites, on the other hand, are basically similar to axons. Their difference is that they receive signals from other nerve cells and sends messages to the brain. In our example, it means these are the cables that send messages or requests to the server.

These axons and dendrites join at a place called synapses (where the cables are joined together by plugs or at the computer terminals). This is the gap between nerve fibers or junctions through which cells of the nervous system signal to one another and to non-neuronal cells such as muscles or glands. In Short, this is where the messages are sent across to the rest of the body.

Now, a neurotransmitter, which is serotonin, is necessary to ensure that messages are taken from the brain through the axons to the rest of the body and from the rest of the body by dendrites to the brain passing through the synapses. In simpler terms, you can call serotonin, the power that powers up the system. If the system is powered up, everything goes well i.e. the body remains well regulated.

It should now be clear why a lack of serotonin could cause some discomfort. If serotonin levels are low, the body does not function as expected. You may eventually fall into depression or become violent. This is because the hormone or chemical affects behavior, thought, and emotions.

In this website, we provide some more information on the causes of level variations but to sum it up we can say that this lack of serotonin may be caused by poor diet, stress, exposing your body to toxic substances. Also, a change in hormone levels can cause a change in the level of serotonin. This is especially true for women during their premenstrual cycles.

If you have low levels of serotonin then, you can act insensitively and fail to realize the forthcoming danger or consequences of your actions.

The more you expose yourself to the conditions the more its production ( in the brain) is reduced. Some of the know effects include sexual problems like premature ejaculation, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, Sleep disturbances, suicide, Impulsive acts of violence and aggression, Obsessive-compulsive behavior, Alcoholism, Eating disorders, and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

Also Read: About Serotonin – level, syndrome, food and more


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