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Understanding Serotonin (5HHT): What is Serotonin?


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In this article about understanding serotonin we will briefly go over the feel good hormone called serotonin, how the serotonin level affects your mood, your diet, food cravings and how to raise its levels in your system.
First to explain serotonin , This hormone is necessary for communication between nerve cells or neurons found in our bodies.

These are basically Cells of the nervous system, which transmit nerve impulses (electrical signals) between cells.

These cells or neurons actively communicate amongst themselves to regulate all of our body processes. This means then that serotonin facilitates that communication. Because of this communication role, it is also known as a neurotransmitter (scientifically called 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT).

Let us consider these neurons a bit. they are joined by axons and dendrites. An axon, or "nerve fiber," is a long thin projection of a nerve cell, or "neuron," which conducts electrical impulses away from the neuron's cell body or soma. Axons are in effect the primary transmission lines of the nervous system, and as bundles they help make up nerves. Individual axons are microscopic in diameter--typically about one micrometre across-- but may extend to macroscopic lengths. These axons take messages away from brain.

The dendrites are Branched extensions of the nerve cell body that receive signals from other nerve cells. In essence these send messages to the brain. These axons and denrites join at a place called synapses. 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 other side.

Now this is where the neurotransmitter, serotonin comes in. It is its job to carry the message across in order to keep our bodies in check i.e. having our body processes regulated. So it is now clear why a lack of serotonin might cause some disorders in our bodies. If its levels are low, the body does not function as expected and it can be the underlying cause of depression and violence.

This chemical or hormone (Serotoin) affects emotions, behavior, and thought. So when there is a lack of serotonin you are most likely to fall in to serious depression. This lack may be caused by stress, poor diet uptake, exposure to toxic substances, Changes in your hormone levels can cause a change in serotonin levels. This is especially true for woman during their premenstrual cycles.

It is possible to have low levels of serotonin due to genetic disorders. This can mean that genetically serotonin is processed ineffeciantly in the brain. This can happen when 5HTT serotonin receptors are too short this causing serotonin to be absorbed to quickly. This will in turn cause a short supply of serotonin, which may lead to mood and energy problems. To men, the lack of Serotonin can cause premature ejaculation.

To get back to our topic of food cravings, the low availability of serotonin in the system may stimulate food cravings. The sight, smell or expectation of food stimulates serotonin release in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain known to regulate feeding and sleep. When eating serotonin continues to rise, until it registers in the hyptothalamus as the experience of satisfaction. So id you didn't know now you know that the full feeling in your stomach actually comes from your brain. So If you increase serotonin availability or activity you will tend to reduce food consumption. If you decrease serotonin system activity you will tend to increase food consumption.

The lack of serotonin can even stimulate cravings for things such as alcohol and cigarettes. Drinking alcohol raises serotonin levels but only temporary and then lowers it. This is why people feel so joyful when first drunk and then crash into anger or depression almost immediately. For cigarettes, the nicotine element will increase serotonin activity in some parts of the brain temporarily, and then when the serotonin activity falls, the craving for another cigarette occurs.

Furthermore, this short supply can also lead to insentitivity to impending danger or consequences. If you continue to think or expose yourself to these conditions will reinforce the brain's reduced serotonin production. Suicide is possible at this point since you may not care or you may be insensitive to possible consequences.

Here is a list of effects of lack of seretonin in your body; Depression, Some types of sexual problems,Personality disorders, Anxiety, Sleep disturbances , Suicide , Impulsive acts of violence and aggression, Obsessive-compulsive behavior, Alcoholism, Eating disorders and Perhaps schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease.

We recommend that you have your blood tested to evaluate your serotonin levels. If this is the cause of your depression hence your excessive food cravings you may need to get some treatment. It is also important that you take good care of yourself by eating three healthy meals a day, drink plenty of water and exercise daily. This way you are most likely to build or preserve your serotonin levels. In another article we will futher look at serotonin syndrome. 

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