How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs
Antidepressants modify the metabolism of serotonin in the neural synapses. Since there are receptors in almost any region of the brain, these drugs will have a wide variety of unwanted side effects.
In some cases, they can leave permanent changes to the brain or even a withdrawal effect after their cessation. For some the best solution to treat endogenous, or chemical imbalance depression is medication, for depression caused by life events the best benefits come from psychotherapy plus medication, or from psychotherapy alone. This can happen because they elevate mood artificially due to a modification of the brain chemistry, however if there is a grief, unresolved issues, traumas or hard experiences that need to be processed emotionally and medication cannot resolve your relationship issues or give meaning to your life.
Fortunately there are some ways to increase serotonin naturally, ingesting substances that are precursors of serotonin. A precursor is molecule that will further transform itself or other molecules into another molecule that will be available for the organism. Neurotransmitters are synthesized from amino acids or can be found in food. The precursors for serotonin are tryptophan, an amino acid, and 5-hydroxitryptophan (5-HTP). These substances can be ingested and reach the brain without being processed by the liver.
This can be an alternative approach for those who are starting to feel depressed but are just starting to experience symptoms. The effectiveness of oral tryptophan has been demonstrated in clinical trials. Some foods have lots of tryptophan, a great option.
How to increase serotonin levels
• Serotonin is regulated by the biological clock. It tends to rise later in the day and be down in the morning. In women it increases during the fertile phase and decreases near menstruation. The bad habit of skipping breakfast is one cause of low serotonin due to the natural depletion of this amine.
• Have a high-protein breakfast to prevent depletion of serotonin in the afternoon.
• Increase production of melatonin by regulating quality and quantity of sleep. Its helpful to have a regular sleep schedule. Turn off your TV and computer, it will decrease the quality of sleep. Aim for at least 7 hours per night.
• Tryptophan can be found in some high protein foods such as eggs, chicken, turkey, red meat, skim milk and other dairy products. Bananas and dark chocolate are high in tryptophan. Nuts, peanuts, and other seeds have an stimulant effect on tryptophan too.
Natural Ways to Increase Serotonin
By: Andres Carvajal
Edited By: Stephanie Dawson
Ikeda M (2002). “Amino acid production processes”. Adv. Biochem. Eng. Biotechnol. Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology 79: 1–35
Ballantyne, Coco (2007-11-21). “Does Turkey Make You Sleepy?”. Scientific American. Retrieved 2013-06-06.