Mental Health: The Science behind low mood and anxiety

I have recently been considering the science behind mental health. I recently watched a documentary on BBC iPlayer about Charlotte Church’s mum which inspired me to write this blog around Serotonin and the affects on our body.

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Seretonin

Serotonin is a chemical nerve cells produce. It sends signals between your nerve cells. Serotonin is found mostly in the digestive system, although it’s also in blood platelets and throughout the central nervous system.

Serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid must enter your body through your diet and is commonly found in foods such as nuts, cheese, and red meat. Tryptophan deficiency can lead to lower serotonin levels. This can result in mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

What does Serotonin do?

Serotonin impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer. It’s the chemical that helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting. Serotonin also helps:

  • reduce depression
  • regulate anxiety
  • heal wounds
  • stimulate nausea
  • maintain bone health

How to treat the deficiincy clinically

Low levels of serotonin in the brain may cause depression, anxiety, and sleep trouble. Many doctors will prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to treat depression. They’re the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant.

How to treat it naturally 

  • Exposure to bright light: Sunshine or light therapy are commonly recommended remedies for treating seasonal depression.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can have mood-boosting effects.
  • A healthy diet: Foods that can increase serotonin levels include eggs, cheese, turkey, nuts, salmon, tofu, and pineapple.
  • Meditation: Meditating can help relieve stress and promote a positive outlook on life, which can greatly boost serotonin levels.

Isn’t it strange that something found in my gut can lead to mental health disorders. “Eat more cheese, nuts and red meat, exercise and get some sun” I hear you say! I already do those things so it doesn’t seem that clear cut to me.

My conclusion:

It seems to me that GP’s go straight to the clinical solution of handing out medication rather than looking into the science behind some mental health disorders (specifically low mood and anxiety). Is it really conclusive after a 10 minute consultation to decide SSRI’s are the solution and a bit of CBT will be enough. It sounds like its a one fits all solution.

I would love to find out if I have low levels of serotonin in my body. It might help me to work out what I need to do more of to increase those levels naturally. Whilst I agree in some aspects medication is great, understanding how that works is even greater but we can all do natural things to help ourselves.

I then went on a tangent looking into how vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians get their natural sources of serotonin. It intrigued me because someone I follow on instagram has decided to go plant based vegan for a number of months and I’m not sure what impact that has had on his mental health. Maybe ill ask him.

As my yoga friend says “it just goes to show what you put in your body does lead to a healthy mind”.

Credits:

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin

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One Response to “Mental Health: The Science behind low mood and anxiety”

  1. Heather Tasker Says:

    5-HTP can help some people with this. I take 100mg daily. It’s also supposed to be good for fibromyalgia and insomnia. Be careful if you go this route though. Some people (like me 🤦🏻‍♀️) get anxiety from taking more than that at one time.

    Great post. 🙂

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