Does your mood shift after the holidays? Mine does…every year! It never fails. This year my mood took a nose dive before Christmas, and has yet to bounce back. In fact, each day it seems to get a little bit worse. Everyone’s talking about Covid boosters, yet I’m over here wondering where to get a serotonin booster.
Serotonin is usually the neurotransmitter that comes to mind when people talk about depression. Serotonin is a mood stabilizing hormone that also helps with sleep and digestion. If your levels drop too low, it can leave you feeling depressed, anxious, exhausted, and even cause some digestive issues. Not so fun! There are several ways to boost your serotonin levels naturally. You can manipulate your serotonin levels through diet, supplements, exercise and light therapy. Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin. In theory, consuming foods rich in tryptophan could positively affect your serotonin levels. Some foods that are rich in tryptophan are milk, canned tuna, poultry, oats, cheese, nuts & seeds, chocolate, and bananas.
You can also utilize supplements to up your serotonin levels. However, I would be cautious with this method especially if you are taking medication that already adjusts your serotonin levels. If you’re interested in going the supplement route, I’d would talk to your doctor first due to the risk of serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome occurs when too much serotonin accumulates in your body. Initially, it can cause agitation, confusion, rapid heart beat, dilated pupils, muscle stiffness, excessive sweating, diarrhea, headache, shivering and goosebumps. If left untreated it progress to high fever, seizures, irregular heartbeat, and death. Yeah, not really something you want to mess with. For that reason, go talk to your doctor first.
Another way to naturally boost serotonin levels is through light therapy. This could be achieved simply by spending 10-20 minutes in natural sunlight. Since it’s winter, and soaking in rays outside isn’t exactly pleasurable, you could also try white or red light therapy. There are several SAD light boxes available on Amazon. The SAD light therapy boxes are bright white light you sit in front of for 20 minutes a day. However, I’ve also read that this can be achieved with red light therapy as well. I personally love red light therapy for my skin. I don’t have a large enough light to try to use for my depression symptoms, but I will admit that I’m very tempted to buy one.
Serotonin Isn’t The Only Player In The Game
While serotonin is usually the first neurotransmitter that comes to mind when we’re thinking about treating depression symptoms, it’s not the only one. There are three other major players that affect our moods as well. Dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin all impact our level of happiness. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that affects our reward center in our brain. It also plays a part in learning, memory, appetite regulation, sleep, attention and digestion.
Dopamine is neurotransmitter associated with addiction. For that reason, it often gets a bad rap. However, dopamine levels can be increased through diet and exercise as well. So skip the drug drug dealer up your protein intake. Consuming a diet high in protein can increase dopamine production. The enzymes in your body can transform the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine into dopamine. So there you have it, yet another reason to eat more protein.
The next neurotransmitters we should discuss are endorphins. Endorphins boost our moods as well. When we exercise our pituitary gland releases endorphins into our bloodstream. Endorphins help with pain regulation and can also give your mood a boost. In addition to exercise, you can also increase your endorphin production by helping others, eating spicy foods and chocolate, laughing, and socializing. I know what you’re thinking, socializing and depression usually don’t go together, but I will say that simply talking to a friend for a few minutes a day can have enough impact to help boost your mood.
Last but not least is oxytocin. Oxytocin is basically the neurotransmitter love. What better way to improve your mood than with love? The body releases oxytocin during childbirth, breastfeeding, hugging, and orgasm. I get that depression often impacts our libido, but if you can manage to get yourself to orgasm then here yet is another benefit. No wonder we feel so much better after experiencing an orgasm.
If Natural Methods Aren’t Working For You
I think it’s also important to mention that it’s ok if none of these methods work you. There are various antidepressants on the market for a reason. All forms of treatments have their place, and none of them should be discounted. The only thing that matters is for you to start feeling better so you can live your life again. I personally had postpartum depression with all three of my children and have been on Welbutrin ever since my first child was born. The only time I’ve gone off it was during my two subsequent pregnancies. Is it perfect? No! But, it’s the only anti-depressant that I know of that doesn’t cause weight gain and decreased libido. To be quite frank, those are two side effects I refuse to tolerate.