Feeling down, anxious or slightly depressed is a common feeling especially amongst our modern society. However, don’t jump to the conclusion that it is your fault if you feel this way. It might be a sign of serotonin deficiency instead.
Serotonin is a brain chemical that is associated with mood, sleep, and many other functions within the body. Because serotonin is involved with many mechanisms and it is 1 of 4 main neurotransmitters, having any kind of serotonin deficiency can be a real problem.
Luckily, there are many natural (and synthetic) resources that can help you to improve your serotonin levels to make you feel happier and function at an optimal level. If you read this article until the end, we’ll give you the #1 tool for serotonin deficiency (and a warning).
What is Serotonin Deficiency?
Serotonin deficiency is literally a lack of the brain chemical serotonin. This can be caused by many things as we will explore below. Most of the time, a deficiency of serotonin is related to chemical use (such as MDMA) or dietary gaps. As this article will show you, it’s possible to easily fill in these gaps.
As you may already know, the symptoms of serotonin deficiency can be quite problematic. Some people have a hard time getting out of bed because they feel too lethargic to do so. Other people experience debilitating depression as a result of this deficiency.
Where to Start When Serotonin Deficient
If you believe that you might be serotonin deficient, it is a good idea to check your assumptions. Sometimes a poor mood or even depression is a sign of something else. While it is nearly impossible to check the quantity of serotonin in your brain (without looking at the synaptic connections), it is possible to get a subjective view.
For those with a serotonin deficiency, the first place to start is the Braverman test. This is a subjective test filled with true and false questions, which can help you to better identify whether you are weak in this brain chemical.
It will only take 5-10 minutes and it gives you a great picture of your deficiencies and your strengths. It is a relatively small time investment in order to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Luckily, it is also created by doctor Eric Braverman who has a great reputation.
Nootropics for Serotonin Deficiency
One of the things that Dr. Braverman points out are the options one can take in order to improve serotonin levels. He has an entire list, but we have modified the list to show a more updated approach.
St. John’s Wort – This is a natural compound found in many places in the world. It has been used for hundreds of years and it is one of the few natural products that truly rivals prescription drugs.
A study analyzing 5,000 participants found that St. John’s wort was as successful improving symptoms of depression as prescription SSRI drugs . This is important because SSRI stands for “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor”, which means this aids a serotonin deficiency that many people who feel depressed often exhibit.
L-Tryptophan – Even though few people have heard of tryptophan and almost everyone believes it is a sleep-inducing chemical after Thanksgiving, this only tells a small part of the story. Tryptophan is an amino acid you can find in many different foods (especially meat).
For those who do not eat meat it is especially important to supplement with tryptophan in order to prevent a deficiency, which can create mood problems and others. This is the safest way to get more serotonin in your system from a natural source.
SAMe – We all synthesize SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) in our liver in order to help create serotonin, but sometimes we could use a little help. With a SAMe supplement, you are just improving a system, which already exists in your body and brain. Sometimes, it is just important to make sure you have enough.
Microdosing – At Nootropedia, we are big believers in psychedelic compounds like psilocybin and LSD. Even though they are not yet legal in the United States and many western countries, the substances interact with the serotonin system and can provide long-term change.
A full psychedelic experience might be too much for some people, which is why we have recommended microdosing on numerous occasions. It might be a good idea and is definitely a simple alternative to prescription drugs.
The #1 Tool for Serotonin Deficiency
For those who have tried all of the above or just want a shortcut to treat serotonin deficiency, there is a tool that can help. Before you read too far, however, we would like to stress that you should read both this AND the next section.
The #1 tool for serotonin deficiency goes hand-in-hand with risks and potential side effects. As with anything, we would like you to be responsible and careful!
Enter 5-HTP. It may seem like everyone is talking about 5-HTP for serotonin deficiency and this is a popular suggestion, but it’s important to understand why.
This drug conveniently skips over an enzyme in the brain, which makes it possible to get as much serotonin as you want. For some people this can be a good thing (such as the severely deficient), but in other occasions it can be dangerous.
There is an alternative problem called serotonin syndrome whereby one has too much serotonin in their system. You do not want this to happen!
In any case, the studies are clear that 5-HTP can help aid in symptoms of depression. Children who suffer from night terrors can reduce these symptoms by 93.5% compared to placebo . Often, the effects of taking 5-HTP can be long-term (for night terrors), but this is not always the case.
Other Causes of Serotonin Deficiency
There are plenty of other things that can be causing you to have problems with serotonin as well. For example, sunlight is a key component in the synthesis of vitamin D, which influences serotonin production . If you aren’t getting enough sunlight, it will probably hurt your mood.
Another oddity related to serotonin deficiency is your gut health. Those who do not properly take care of their gut (i.e: don’t eat antibiotics!) might suffer from less serotonin as well. One study linked serotonin deficiency directly with the health of your digestive tract .
The Next Steps
Congratulations if you have followed us through this far! Serotonin deficiency is not a pleasurable health problem to have especially when it leads to poor mood and depression. We have provided a lot of information for you so perhaps it is best to give you a clear list of the next steps.
- Take the Braverman test from the link above
- Try to eat more foods with tryptophan or take a L-tryptophan supplement
- If that doesn’t work, look into St. John’s Wort
- Use 5-HTP in small doses as a last resort