Low Serotonin Level

Low Serotonin Level: Overview

When serotonin levels are low, many psychological problems can develop including serious depression.

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Diagnosis and Tests

Serotonin levels are not routinely checked before prescribing serotonin-elevating agents.  Since blood serotonin levels correlate poorly with brain levels, a therapeutic trial with agents that are known to raise levels is a reasonable and cost-effective approach.

Treatment and Prevention

One must be cautious not to combine too many SRIs (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, St. John's Wort (hypericum), and 5HTP to avoid the medical condition known as serotonin syndrome.  Here the brain has too much serotonin (the opposite of what happens in depression) and this may result in symptoms such as sweating, agitation, confusion, lethargy, tremor, and muscle jerks.  If such symptoms occur, consult your doctor immediately.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Low Serotonin Level:

Symptoms - Food - Beverages

Symptoms - Food - Preferences

Symptoms - General

Symptoms - Mind - Emotional

Symptoms - Sleep

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Conditions that suggest Low Serotonin Level:



Serotonin levels can dictate if you feel depressed or not.  Antidepressant medications like Paxil, Zoloft, St. John's Wort, and Prozac work by preventing serotonin destruction and loss.  These antidepressants inhibit serotonin uptake (or reuptake) by the neurons in the brains.  Low serotonin levels cause depression.


Serotonin levels are often low among people with anxiety disorders.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Although the exact cause is not known, experts believe that OCD may be caused by low levels of a chemical in the brain called serotonin.



Restless Leg Syndrome

Tryptophan, a serotonin precursor, has been shown to help a small percentage of RLS sufferers. [Am J Psychiatry 143(4): pp.554-5, 1986]

Recommendations for Low Serotonin Level:

Amino Acid / Protein

Tryptophan / 5HTP

Tryptophan is the dietary amino acid precursor for production of serotonin in the body.  First it is converted into 5HTP, and then into serotonin.  Both supplements are available, but tryptophan may require a doctor's prescription.  It is recommended that these be taken under a doctor's supervision.

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Strong or generally accepted link:
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Very useful:
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