Serotonin is a hormone also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine or abbreviated to 5-HT. It is found in the central nervous system, blood platelets, digestive tract and the pineal gland which is deep in the brain.
Vital for everyday life
Hormones are chemicals which the body produces to regulate certain activities in cells and organs. They are vital for metabolism, growth, reproduction, mood and digestion.
Studies have revealed that serotonin is involved in:
- bone metabolism
- cardiovascular function
Serotonin and depression
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressant medications - for example Prozac. They work by raising the brain levels of serotonin. We know that a lack of serotonin is involved in feelings of sadness in people with depression and that raising serotonin levels helps to relieve symptoms of depression, but it is not yet fully understood how this happens.
Preliminary studies into people with depression have found they they have significantly lower serotonin levels and receptors in the hippocampus part of the brain. The hippocampus region plays a key role in mood regulation. The current findings show that raising the levels of serotonin help to alleviate the symptoms of depression.