Serotonin Syndrome | Psychology Today Canada

This post was written with input from Margaret Heaton-Ashby, LMFT.

Your nerve cells are constantly in a state of production to create the chemical serotoninwhich is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is known to help regulate digestion, body temperature, sleep, bone health, blood clotting, and even sexual function. More importantly, serotonin is known to help regulate anxiety and your mood, especially happiness.

It is important that you maintain normal serotonin levels for all of these conditions to work properly. Low serotonin levels are associated with anxiety, insomnia and depression. Conversely, high serotonin levels are associated with osteoporosis, low sex drive and nausea.

Patients with low levels of serotonin may be prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs are commonly prescribed as antidepressants and work by increasing the level of serotonin in your body after it is absorbed. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Increased levels of serotonin can lead to a condition called serotonin syndrome.

Typically, serotonin syndrome occurs when two or more drugs are prescribed to increase serotonin levels. Examples of when this can happen are when an antidepressant is prescribed with an opioid or when an antidepressant is prescribed with a migraine medication. Serotonin syndrome can occur a few hours after mixing these drugs. Alternatively, serotonin syndrome can occur when an excessive dose of an antidepressant alone is prescribed.

Common symptoms of serotonin syndrome are restlessness, restlessness, chills and chills, headache, diarrhea, muscle twitching or stiffness, rapid heartbeat, confusion, loss of coordination and excessive sweating. It is imperative to consult a doctor if you develop these symptoms or more serious symptoms, such as high fever, irregular heartbeat, seizures and loss of consciousness.

Although symptoms usually go away after drug use is stopped, if left untreated, serotonin syndrome can lead to loss of consciousness and, in some cases, can lead to death. It is important that you tell your doctor about all medications you are currently taking before starting a new prescription.

Below is a list of medications compiled by the Mayo Clinic that may cause serotonin syndrome. If you find that you are taking any number of these medicines listed below and have symptoms consistent with serotonin syndrome, you should discuss this with your doctor. Remember that it is never safe to stop any medication without first talking to your doctor and following their advice on how to reduce or stop any medication.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), antidepressants such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine, paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva, Brisdelle), and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), antidepressants such as duloxetine (Cymbalta, Drizalma Sprinkle) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
  • Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL), an antidepressant and tobacco addiction drug
  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), antidepressants such as isocarboxazid (Marplan) and phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Anti-migraine medications, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol, others), valproic acid (Depakene), and triptans, which include almotriptan, naratriptan (Amerge), and sumatriptan (Imitrex, Tosymra, others)
  • Pain medications, such as opioid pain relievers, including codeine, fentanyl (Duragesic, Abstral, others), hydrocodone (Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone , others) and tramadol (Ultram, ConZip)
  • Lithium (Lithobid), a mood stabilizer
  • Illicit drugs, including LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and amphetamines
  • Herbal supplements including St. John’s wort, ginseng, and nutmeg
  • Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines containing dextromethorphan (Delsym)
  • Medicines for nausea, such as granisetron (Sancuso, Sustol), metoclopramide (Reglan), droperidol (Inapsine), and ondansetron (Zofran, Zuplenz)
  • Linezolid (Zyvox), an antibiotic
  • Ritonavir (Norvir), an antiretroviral drug used to treat HIV

Boost your serotonin naturally.

While you never want to start or stop taking medication without consulting your doctor, there are at least four ways to boost serotonin levels without prescription drugs. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, irritability, poor sleep, decreased appetite, nausea, or poor digestion, you might consider trying to raise your levels naturally. of serotonin. If you think you could benefit from higher serotonin levels, here are some ways to do it yourself.

1. Get moving.

Aerobic exercise is specifically effective in increasing serotonin levels. You’ll want to do something you enjoy while increasing your heart rate. Here are some ideas to try:

  • To swim
  • Ride a bike
  • Jogging
  • Trek

2. Get massaged regularly.

Studies show that people with depression can increase their serotonin levels after just a few weeks of weekly massage. You can get a massage at your favorite spa, your medical massage practice, or even directly at home from a loved one.

3. Increase your ability to make serotonin with food.

Tryptophan is an amino acid found in protein-rich foods. Studies show that tryptophan-rich foods can help your body produce the chemical serotonin when combined with a carbohydrate.

Try combining some options from these two columns for your afternoon snack:

Whole Wheat Turkey Bread

Oatmeal with nuts

Brown rice with salmon

plum crackers

Peanut Butter Pretzel Sticks

4. Let the light in.

Research has shown that direct sunlight can increase serotonin levels. The goal should be to spend 15 minutes enjoying direct sunlight each day outdoors. Don’t forget to open the shutters either! Letting the sun into your home or office can instantly boost your mood and serotonin levels.

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