Serotonin is a chemical created by the human body that works as a neurotransmitter. It is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.
- Serotonin is created by a biochemical conversion process which combines tryptophan, a component of proteins, with tryptophan hydroxylase, a chemical reactor. Together, they form 5-hydroxyltryptamine (5-HT), also referred to as serotonin.
- Serotonin is manufactured in the brain and the intestines. The majority of the body’s serotonin, between 80-90%, can be found in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Serotonin that is used inside the brain must be produced within it.
- It is thought that serotonin can affect mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory and sexual desire and function.
- An association has been made between depression and serotonin. Scientists remain unsure whether decreased levels of serotonin contribute to depression or depression causes a decrease in serotonin levels.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can affect the levels of serotonin in the body. If excessive amounts of serotonin are accumulated within the body then serotonin syndrome can occur.
- Other ways to increase body serotonin levels include mood induction, light, exercise and diet.
- Serotonin is most commonly believed to be a neurotransmitter, although some consider the chemical to be a hormone.