Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression and anxiety, and as a result, medications that increase serotonin levels are sometimes prescribed to treat mental health conditions. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressant medications that prevent serotonin from being reabsorbed in the brain. In some cases, children, adolescents, and young adults younger than 25 may have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors when taking antidepressants, especially in the first few weeks after starting to take them or when the dose is changed.
Serotonin syndrome occurs when a person takes one or more medications that cause a buildup of serotonin in the body. It can also occur when central and peripheral serotonin receptors are overstimulated by the action of antidepressant medications or drugs of abuse. It's not clear if symptoms can occur in people who increase their serotonin levels without medication. There are several different substances, including medications and supplements, that can help to increase serotonin levels in the brain.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) inhibit serotonin reuptake in the brain. Reuptake is a process in which neurotransmitters in the brain are resorbed and deactivated or recycled for future use. Stimulant medications, such as Adderall, can increase the risk of serotonin toxicity if misused or combined with other medications that contain serotonin. MAOIs are a class of antidepressants thought to increase levels of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine (another neurotransmitter) in the brain.In people who aren't experiencing depression, it's not clear if the increase in serotonin will be beneficial.
However, there is some evidence that muscle activation during exercise allows more tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, to cross the blood-brain barrier. Many brain networks involve serotonin, and it's difficult to increase serotonin in just one specific network.Low serotonin levels are one of the factors that can contribute to depression, but people can take some steps to naturally increase their serotonin levels. If you have a close relative who responded to a particular antidepressant, tell your doctor, as this might be a good drug to start with.In the US, there is an increased risk of serotonin syndrome as a result of the combination of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRs) and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors SSNRI with migraine medications called triptans. It's important to be aware of potential risks when taking more than one type of medication that affects serotonin levels.