I just had my serotonin checked from a blood test. It says my serotonin levels are good. I have a lot of pretty bad depression and have suffered anxiety for the past almost 2 years. It doesn't make sense that I could be depressed but the seotonin levels are normal. Are these test accurate? I understand it's an expensive test. Did I just waste my money?
depression and anxiety are so complex that they differ between individuals that no one knows what really causes them, and if you walk into docs office and say I depressed and in 15 minutes walk out with prescription, than there is something wrong with your doc, or he's laze or he is under influence of drug corporations. What I'm trying to say is that you should investigate your entire life to find what could possible cause you ill. Many people have normal level of serotonin or higher then normal people and they are still ill.
Hi, I have been researching the tests for serotonin because I have very low serum levels. I've had the blood test on several occasions. What I don't know is how it translates to the levels in the brain - the synaptic spaces. The hormone, serotonin, is made in the brain (pineal gland), from its amino acid precursor, tryptophan. Its found in the blood platelets, the lining of the GI tract, and the brain. Amino acids compete for transportation access across the blood-brain barrier. When there are large amounts of the amino acid, tryptophan, it crosses at higher concentrations and more serotonin is subsequently made. When the blood levels are tested - I don't know exactly what that means. One would think it would be reflective of the concentration in the brain. I've been on SSRIs for a long time, theoretically preventing unused serotonin from being reabsorbed back into the nerve fiber from which it was released. Because it is also used in the other areas mentioned in the body, some must travel back through the bb barier into the body, where it can be measured with the blood test. I haven't been able to get a straight answer from any doctor or lab technician. I know its a complicated process, but I've a bit frustrated.
Because my levels are SO LOW - I want to know the significance and what I can do. The normal values at the low end are twice as high as my level. I will continue my research
wow, well you learn something new everyday, i was totally unaware there was a test to check levels of Serotonin. I thought it was one of those things the doc's couldn't measure. Is this test on the NHS in England by any chance?
You can order you test on the internet and test various neurotransmitter levels. This is very likely to cost around 200-400$.
Yes they can know quite accurately the neurotransmitter levels with a simple urine test. Think of it as a dope test, It's basically the same way of detecting substances and making ratio.
Therefore, everyone is different regarding brain's chemistry and I find it quite absurd to test the neurotransmitters rather than to diagnose the symptoms and try to treat them. I mean even tho you know your are running low on serotonin and norepinephrine it is very worth to know something that you already know while observing your symptoms.
I respect the new technologies but since there are lack of scientific evidences that it is serotonin, norepinephrine or whatever related to MAOs (monoamine oxidases) I doubt the real need for such tests but based on your results maybe you are more likely to find a drug that will suit you as you will know what's happening with your neurotransmitters but here again it can still be a period of trial and errors with the drugs and maybe you might skip drugs that might work for you due to the results or maybe all you need is a good therapy.
I would rather spend the money on a psychologist than such test.
Serotonin is converted into tryptophan by tryptophan hydroxylase. Serotonin levels are most accurately measured from cerebrospinal fluid, but blood and urine is an alternative (albeit less accurate). The test determining l the turnover rate of serotonin (reuptake and resynthesis) examines levels of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA).
It is true that tryptophan competes with other large amino acids for use of the active transport channel found in the blood-brain barrier. Phenylalanine is found in aspartame and maize (corn) at high levels, and this is one facet of serotonin turnover that those with a history of depression, violence, or substance abuse should be concerned with.
(Moeller et al., 1996)(Lytle, Messing, Fisher, & Phebus, 1975)(Valzelli, 1973)
don't think that this test is on the NHS yet within the UK as was asking people on the forum from the US & canada about this 6 months back. Think that its in the pipelane though as would be extremely useful when it comes to prescribing medication.
yeah just chased up my post about this as read in the paper that these tests where going to be roled out within the NHS by the end of the year and this was in July 2010. Would be good asking though despite the possibility of NHS cuts on things.
Because this is so seldom talked about by physicians, there are many misconceptions - I've read several here. The serum levels of serotonin are done for reasons other than diagnosing Depression. Depression is a clinical disorder that has many origins as stated above, but it can also be an imbalance of the neurotransmitters in the brain + a pre-disposition, often passed down genetically (as in Bi-polar Depression). Serotonin is very important in the body - outside the brain, and they're discovering more and more about it all the time.
It is the substance which causes motility in the GI tract, as well as vascular constriction. It is responsible for regulating homeostasis within the body via temperature regulation, blood clotting, and therefore wound healing, which it accomplishes by being a type of growth factor for certain cells. It's precursor is Tryptophan, and Serotonin is the precursor to Melatonin, which helps regulate sleep.
Some medications can cause an increase in serotonin, but the SSRI Anti-Depressants, don't raise levels - they just inhibit the re-absorption of the chemical back into the cell which released it into the synaptic space, causing more to be available to the receptor sites. The only natural way to raise levels are exercise and a high carb diet - something those of us who are Diebetics and in extreme poor health (like myself) can't do. Taking supplements of Tryptophan can sometimes help by actually producing more Serotonin.
Dopamine and Norepenephrine are the other two major neurotransmitters. Low dopamine is a major contributor in the cause of Parkinson. Thus, L-Dopa is given, which is the pre-cursor for Dopamine. Some of the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) sometimes also inhibit the reabsorption of norepenephrine. MAOs are a completely different class of anti-depressant.
The blood test is rarely done, unless someone is showing symptoms of having Serotonin Syndrome - which is having two much in the blood stream (effecting you somatically). How to determine the exact conversion from the amounts in the serum of your blood, to how much is in the brain is not an exact science. However, knowing there is very little in the blood stream, and I mean REALLY LOW LEVELS, can enable the doctor to take the leap in believing there are inadequate levels in the brain.
The interest to me has nothing to do with Depression. I have no ability to regulate my body temperature, nor do I have Motility in my esophagus, stomach, small, or large intestine. I have Systemic Sclerosis, Diabetes, MS, IC, Lung Disease, Heart Disease, and masses in my lung, spleen, pancreas and more. Serotonin is also involved in the release by the Pancreas of insulin. When insulin is released, serotonin is raised, but then its presence suppresses the further release of insulin - so it is a loop responsible for blood glucose homeostasis.
After stating these few things about its physiological role, my intended message is that it is not a test to be used to diagnose, or monitor depression, but can be used when the patient shows signs and symptoms physically, of a high or low level. It is very complex, and currently being researched, but is not well understood by many physicians at this point.
I hope this was informative, and not just more confusing. I just hope progress is made in its understanding - even if not in time to help me - others will be helped by the increase in our knowledge of the subtle changes in our biochemistry which can cause an avalanche of disease. One thing I know more each day is that the old common sense adage that a balanced diet and consistent exercise helps everything - physically AND psychologically. AND that stress contributes to the imbalance of many of the body's complex systems. Appropriate stress can help - but chronic, unresolved stress can create havoc!
many thanks for your informative reply as i've been aware of the important part serotonin plays to some degree in our minds & bodies with respect to our own body rythmes but not to the level that you describe. For instance I was'nt aware of it's role with respect to blood clotting as the serotonin blood test appears to be extremely beneficial as you say for the possible detcetion and further exploration of suitable treatment options. thanks again for sharing your knowledge as only through being informed and aware can we try to tame our troublesome and distressing 'black dogs'. Best wishes
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