If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, and your mood is out of sorts, you may be suffering from an imbalance in neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters sound like a hard-to-understand technical term, but it isn’t. This chemical substance is important as it allows your brain to communicate with the human body. Based on cells called neurons, the information is conveyed. Neurotransmitters affect your weight, mood, ability to sleep and concentrate. It can also communicate with your heart and tell it to beat, move your muscles and control breathing throughout your lungs. When the neurotransmitters are imbalanced, it may cause adverse effects. Stress, drugs, toxins, alcohol and a poor diet are a few of the contributing factors causing the depletion of neurotransmitters.
There are two types of neurotransmitters, excitatory and inhibitory. When imbalanced, you may suffer symptoms such as mood swings, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, insomnia and sugar cravings. Because the neurotransmitters are out of balance, you may also notice a decrease in libido. Oftentimes, a person may be led to believe that anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication will help eliminate the symptoms or even keep them at bay. This may be true for some as the medications alter your neurotransmitter response. But they aren’t intended to be taken for long periods of time. If you’re not having your neurotransmitters evaluated, the wrong one’s may be altered. If your symptoms still persist despite medication treatment, your neurotransmitters may be out of balance. A simple urine test can help measure your neurotransmitters.
You can easily find out if you’re being prescribed the right medication or if your diet and supplement regimen needs to be tweaked to put you in balance. Read on to learn how neurotransmitters affect your life.
Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks and bipolar affect millions of individuals in the United States. Based on recent studies, it’s determined that 7 percent of Americans live with serious depression. Another 18 percent of Americans suffer from other mental issues such as anxiety, phobias, panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorders.
A physical exam, lab tests and psychological analysis are standard methods to determine the mental health disorders. Typical treatments include anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. But some individuals may suffer from treatment resistance. By initiating targeted neurotransmitter testing, you can get the optimum treatment plan based on your own specific needs and personalized care.
Neurotransmitters provide communication to both the body and mind. They are the basis for the brain to fuel the internal system with important information. Anything the body feels, senses, hears, touches, smells and ingests serves as a purpose to prompt a response from the nervous system. Neurotransmitters acts as messengers to send signals and receive feedback through the various impulses.
When the brain and peripheral neurochemistry are unbalanced, the body struggles to re-establish its physiological make-up. This may be present in the form of suboptimal psychological well-being.
Patients that should be tested are those who suffer from the following:
- Persistent fatigue
- Poor memory
- Low libido
- Feeling perpetually drained
Dopamine: “The pleasure Center”
As an integral neurotransmitter, dopamine’s notable functions include learning, improving attention, aiding in decision making, regulating blood pressure and sodium excretion and promotes arousal.
Decrease in dopamine is associated with attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, confusion, depression, fatigue and a lack of motivation.
Too much dopamine could be associated with schizophrenia, psychosis and anaphylaxis. Individuals may also experience impulsive behavior in the form of gambling, drugs, sex, alcohol and food.
Foods that support proper dopamine functioning include bananas, avocados, spinach, chocolate and red wine.
Epinephrine and Norepinephrine
Epinephrine and norepinephrine function as a neurotransmitter and hormone that helps regulate the fight or flight response when the body is under tremendous amounts of stress. Other functions include elevating blood pressure and heart rate, stimulating wakefulness and reducing digestive activity.
Phentethyamine excitatory neurotransmitter (PEA) is commonly found in chocolate.
It also promotes energy, regulates attention, elevates mood and serves as a biomarker for ADHD.
Inhibits dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake.
Histamine has dual functioning in the body as both a neurotransmitter and immune supporter. While it’s small compared to the other important molecules, histamine has many critical physiological functions such as boosting metabolism, promoting wakefulness and suppressing a person’s appetite.
Glutamate: The “On” Switch
Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter that energizes and regulates appetite, cognition, learning and memory. It also boosts gut motility, raises libido and decreases sleep.
Serotonin is the most well-known neurotransmitter. This happy molecule contributes to a person’s well-being and calmness. It’s also responsible for decreasing appetite, anxiety, modulates clotting, improves sleep patterns and regulates cognition and memory. Serotonin also stimulates gut motility and suppresses appetite and libido.
High levels of serotonin found in the urine may also be associated with bone loss, anxiety, celiac disease, low libido, high blood pressure and irritability.
Low serotonin levels found in the urine are commonly associated with depression, anxiety, hunger, hot flashes and migraines. Hot flashes, insomnia and migraines are other important factors.
Avocado, eggs, bananas, green vegetables, fish, lentils, seeds, kiwi and plantains are great sources of tryptophan that aid in increasing the production of serotonin in the body naturally.
Use Supplements to Support Serotonin Levels
You can support serotonin naturally by exercising, eating a healthy diet, meditation, bright lights/sunlight and finding ways to elevate your mood.
GABA: The “Off” Switch
This is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that elevates a person’s mood, relieves anxiety and promotes a better night’s sleep.
The main function is to ensure that the excitatory signals aren’t overdone.
GABA regulates blood pressure, attention, memory, mood, sleep, GI acid secretion and better stress management.
Heightened levels of GABA are often associated with lethargy, anxiety and an excess need for sleep.
Decreased levels of GABA are associated with low energy, anxiety, ADHD, panic attacks, and the inability to concentrate or focus.
Replenish levels with GABA supplements, L-theonine, probiotics, vitamin B6 and yoga all support GABA.
Glycine plays a dual role as both a neurotransmitter and amino acid to serve as a building block to proteins. Glycine can help calm aggression, improve a person’s quality sleep, stabilize blood sugar and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Steroid hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and progesterone are involved in the production of neurotransmitters.
Estrogen affects serotonin receptors in the brain and is often associated with hot flashes. It’s also the reason some anti-depressants are used in the treatment of vasomotor (menopausal) symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes.
Metabolites of progesterone produces a neuroactive steroid that turns off GABA receptors and aids with sleep. Progesterone assists in turning off the brains racy thoughts.
Testosterone increases the level of dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Because testosterone fills your body with an overall winning sensation, patients feel like they can accomplish anything. This is one of the primary reasons that I like testosterone pellets. Click here if you would like more information on testosterone pellets.
Thyroid hormone is the infrastructure of our body and requires adequate levels of neurotransmitters. Achieving optimal levels of thyroid hormones is the primary goal. You can learn more about optimizing your thyroid function by scheduling an appointment today.
Neurotransmitter levels may be low, high or out of balance. If your mood is heavy, you may need to do something more than just eating right. The above information should guide you through the importance of testing to ensure that your body is running to the best of its ability.