Like all other neurotransmitters, serotonin is a crucial chemical your body and brain need to be physically and mentally healthy. Too little serotonin in the body, and, in return in the brain, may cause depression and anxiety. On the contrary, too much serotonin in the body and the brain may cause seizures.
You may have heard of a condition named Seasonal Affective Disorder. People who suffer from such disorder usually report symptoms of feeling down, depressed and anxious. This condition is believed to be more widespread among people who live in the northern part of the northern hemisphere where there’s usually a lack of sunlight. Researchers believe that the lack of light may play a role in reduced serotonin levels.
I was born in a Mediterranean country where the sun still shines brightly for most of the year. But for the last three years, I’ve been living in the UK, and with the start of the pandemic, I felt the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder first hand. I am not a big fan of using medications, therefore I ended up researching ways to naturally boost serotonin levels. And I need to confess, it’s not an easy path.
Naturally increasing your serotonin levels is rather difficult. Some websites claim that consuming specific types of food rich in tryptophan may increase your serotonin levels. Since I’m not a nutritionist, I cannot comment on that claim. Below are the methods I use to “increase” my serotonin levels, and I need to say that their effectiveness is open to discussion. I can say that following these methods did not cause any harm to me so far. But if you think following the below steps would not help you at all, please reach out to your GP because depression and anxiety disorders may require medical assistance.
- Try Meditation: My go-to meditation for relieving the symptoms of anxiety is loving- kindness meditation. You can find different types of loving-kindness meditations on the Internet or on Insight Timer.
- Exercise: According to some researchers, exercising regularly may help increase serotonin levels. I know some gyms are still closed due to the current pandemic, but you can definitely try out free online exercises on YouTube.
- Try a mood lamp: I recently bought a Lumie vitamin L lamp because even though we are in mid-April, I do not see sunlight most of the days. And I can say that the lamp helps with my mood up to a degree especially when I’m working on my laptop.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are all around us. The current pandemic is not making things any easier either. Please remember that your mental health matters. It’s important for you and your loved ones. Please reach out for professional medical help if you think you are suffering from severe anxiety attacks and/or depression.