Serotonin & Moodiness
We’ve all been there. Going about our day as normal, and then one small thing happens which totally derails our mood.
But why is that?
It is estimated that about 3 out of every 4 women experience some form of PMS and moodiness is one of the most reported symptoms. Many feel there is a link between moodiness and an important body chemical called serotonin.
Read on to learn more about this mood influencing chemical and how to increase serotonin naturally.
So, What Is Serotonin?
To understand the serotonin and mood connection when it relates to a woman’s menstrual cycle, we must first understand what serotonin is and how it interacts with our hormones and nervous system, the system responsible for regulating our emotions and feelings.
In summary, serotonin is a brain chemical that influences your mood. Often referred to as a neurotransmitter, serotonin is used to communicate signals or messages between nerve cells, from one area of the brain to another. It is found primarily in the central nervous system, the digestive tract, and blood platelets within the body. To put it into perspective, we have over 40 million brain cells in the body, most of which are influenced either directly or indirectly in some way by serotonin.
When examining the chemical composition of serotonin, we see that it is created during a biochemical conversion process that combines tryptophan, a component of proteins, with tryptophan hydroxylase, a chemical reactor. When the two are joined together, they form 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HTP), more commonly known as serotonin.
Serving also as a precursor for melatonin, serotonin helps regulate not only mood, but also the body’s sleep-wake cycles. In addition to mood and sleep regulation, serotonin has been known to play a key role in regulating our appetite, digestion, emotions, and other cognitive body functions.
The Link To Serotonin & Depression
As mentioned previously, serotonin regulates many brain activities, and is important in regulating both mood and behavior.
Several studies have demonstrated that maintaining adequate serotonin levels supports fostering a healthy frame of mind, feelings of calmness, good energy levels, and restful sleep. So it is no surprise that an imbalance, or decline in serotonin may influence mood in a negative way, often leading to depression.
When serotonin levels in the brain drop, the effect in the body can manifest as feelings of boredom, stress, feeling run down or even feeling like the whole world is against you. When these levels remain low, it isn’t uncommon for those experiencing a drop in this mood-regulating chemical to feel, upset, sad or even disconnected.
One theory about how depression develops centers around the way in which we regenerate brain cells. This is because this process is mediated by the chemical serotonin.
Depression may occur when there is a suppression of new brain cells, caused by an increase in stress. Increased stress brings about negative feelings, due to the decline in serotonin. Which causes somewhat of a negative feedback loop. The increased stress decreases the triggering of endorphins thus decreasing the level of serotonin.
Changes in serotonin levels within the brain can cause all kinds of mood swings, because it affects, not only our mood, but also more importantly, the ways in which we perceive things.
A boost in serotonin levels help kick off the production of new brain cells, which in turn allows the depression to lift. Therefore, increasing or maintaining serotonin levels is essential for optimal happiness, as it plays a key role in maintaining mood balance.
Natural Ways To Increase Serotonin
Since the drop, or decrease in serotonin levels is what is mainly responsible for mood changes, it is important to understand how we can work to increase or maintain adequate levels to avoid possible mood swings.
Maintaining adequate serotonin levels can be accomplished by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle. Some helpful tactics include, mitigating stress, daily exposure to bright, natural light, getting regular exercises, and consuming quality serotonin supplements.
Since stress is not always something we can get away from, let's focus on the top 3 ways to increase serotonin, naturally!
#1 - Get More Exercise
Want an easy remedy to quickly boost your mood? Get Moving!
The health benefits of regular & consistent exercise are overwhelmingly abundant, and almost everyone can benefit from a daily workout, no matter their age. When you engage in a workout for as little as 30 minutes a day, it can do wonders for your happiness and overall mood. During the increased physical activity, your body releases endorphins, which cause an increase in serotonin levels, thus boosting your physical health.
Staying consistently active can do a lot to improve your quality of life. Across the board, studies have shown that regular exercise is not only effective in boosting your mood but it can even be as effective as some prescribed pharmaceutical treatments used for depression management.
#2 - Increased Exposure To Natural Light
Ever notice that during the winter months, those cold, dreary days get you down more than they should? It might be related to a decline in natural light exposure!
When nerve cell pathways in the brain that are responsible for regulating mood don't function normally, the result can be feelings of depression, along with other negative symptoms. Studies show that less sunlight during the day leads to the brain making less serotonin, versus increased exposure to bright natural light increases serotonin levels, which has been known to cause a decrease in depression rates.
If you are mostly in doors during the day you might have experienced this change in mood. So consider getting out into the sun as much as possible!
#3 - Proper Supplementation
We handpicked the supplements in our PMS LESS bundle to include a more bioavailable form of 5-HTP, which as mentioned previously is a precursor to serotonin production.
In the body, the essential amino acid tryptophan (when acted upon by the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase) converts to 5-HTP. This chemical compound is then converted into serotonin.
When taken as a supplement, 5-HTP is well absorbed in the intestine without the need for a transporter and other amino acids do not compete with it for absorption. This allows for an increased uptake of 5-HTP resulting in increased levels of serotonin within the body. We recommend taking 100mg of 5-HTP in the days leading up to and during your period!
Now that you have a better understanding of how serotonin levels influence your mood, have you considered how you are feeling right now in this present moment?
Take a second to check in with yourself to make sure you’re doing all you can to feel 100% and let me know in the comments one thing you’ll be adding to your routine to help increase or maintain your happy chemical, serotonin!