Putting A Dent In Depression: Increasing Serotonin Naturally


Simple lifestyle choices can help us raise our brain’s level of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.

Making these lifestyle choices may help some individuals with milder depression avoid the need for antidepressant medications. Those of us who require serotonin-boosting drugs might eventually be able to lower our medication dose.

If trying to raise your serotonin naturally appeals to you, consider implementing these suggestions. However, if you are already working with a healthcare professional on mental health or dietary issues, talk to them about any changes before implementation.

Eight Ways To Increase Serotonin Naturally

The nutritionist and holistic healer Mary Ann Copson has identified the following ways to increase your level of serotonin.

  1. Carbohydrates. Eating carbohydrates causes our body to release insulin; the insulin directs the amino acid tryptophan to our brain. Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin and necessary for serotonin production. Whole grain carbs with a lower glycemic index rating such as oats, barley, and buckwheat are excellent choices, also carbohydrate rich vegetables including sweet potatoes, yams, and squashes.
  2. Serotonin Friendly Proteins. Enjoy more tryptophan-rich protein foods such as chicken, turkey, lean pork, white flaky fish, cottage cheese, low fat cheese, and other dairy products, soy, and legumes.
  3. Protein/Carb Combo. Eat meals heavy in tryptophan-rich proteins and follow-up with a carbohydrate snack two hours later. Doing this ushers any free floating tryptophan to the brain, increasing the production of serotonin.
  4. Meditative Activities. Since meditation is known to increase serotonin, spend time in activities that quiet the mind and keep it focused in the present moment. This includes formal meditative practices, creative visualization, prayer, spending time in nature, and enjoying crafts, or hobbies.
  5. Regular Sleep Schedule. It takes about seven continuous hours of sound sleep to produce adequate serotonin for the following day.
  6. Moderate Exercise. The type of exercise beneficial for serotonin raises our pulse above its resting rate, but not significantly. Consider activities such as relaxed walking, non-aerobic swimming, Tai chi, and yoga to be done at least four days each week.
  7. Sunlight. Get some sunlight for up to 30 minutes every morning, plus more natural light throughout the day. Sunlight suppresses melatonin, the hormone that causes us to fall asleep at night. Since the presence of melatonin keeps serotonin levels low, we need natural light to burn away the previous night’s melatonin.
  8. Relax and Rejuvenate. Always make time for activities that refresh and inspire you—anything from a quiet vacation, to gardening, to cleaning out and organizing the basement or garage. Enjoy your favorite music, museums, books, theater, films, TV shows, and make time for socializing and intimate conversation.
  9. Source: html link: EI Resource
    Photo credit: Daniela - flickr


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