Function of Serotonin

What is this chemical, and what is the function of serotonin?

Activities of the brain are conducted by several million neurons or brain cells which constantly communicate with one another by way of sending and receiving certain molecules. The molecules that are transmitted by the brain cells or neurons are called neurotransmitters.

There are several different types of neurotransmitters in the human brain and serotonin is one among these neurotransmitters. All these neurotransmitters have specific roles and functions, and some of these are responsible for mental functions. Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin are a few mental-health neurotransmitters.

Variation in the levels of these specific neurotransmitters, increase or decrease, results in psychiatric problems and significant behavioural changes which manifest in the form of ADHD, depression, anxiety, etc.

Deficiencies or decrease in the levels of serotonin is directly responsible for symptoms of depression, aggressive behaviour, anxiety, and increased sensitivity to pain. The function of serotonin is as one of the most important neurotransmitters which have lasting effects on brain function. It is therefore gaining tremendous popularity in treating several mental conditions like depression, OCD, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.

In the human body, serotonin is present in the large constricted blood capillaries, intestinal membranes, and the central nervous system comprising the brain and spinal cord. Serotonin has been found to have multiple functionalities and some major functions controlled by serotonin include sleep, temperature regulation, sexual behaviour, appetite, learning, memory, endocrinal functions, anxiety, depression, moods, muscular functions as well as cardiovascular functions. As you can see, the function of serotonin is quite widespread.

The physiological activity of serotonin starts from the brainstem in groups of brain cells called raphe nucleus. Serotonin brain cells then spread to various regions of the central nervous system by branching out throughout the brain.

The serotonin networking system is considered to be the most widespread network in the human brain and every single serotonin neuron or brain cell can regulate the functioning of 500,000 neurons. Therefore, these serotonin neurotransmitters impact brain functioning to a large extent as compared to other neurotransmitters.

In the last few years, researchers, scientists, neuroscientists, and others have confirmed the direct link between the function of serotonin and depression. Studies have indicated that cerebrospinal fluid and brain tissue samples of people suffering from depression contain decreased levels of certain serotonin metabolites.

Therefore, it is now clearly evident that depression is a direct result of a dip or decrease in the serotonin level in the brain. This being the case, several pharmacological substitutes are now being introduced to help treat depression, especially by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain.

Research studies also indicate that the best way to increase serotonin levels is to exercise regularly, especially on a daily basis. This is found to be one of the simplest and easiest ways to increase the production of serotonin.

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