Antidepressants and Serotonin Syndrome

maftab92 By maftab92, 1st Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Depression

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which plays an important role in the biochemistry of depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. This neurotransmitter regulates the onset of sleep, sensory perception, mood changes, body temperature, hyperacusis (noise sensitivity) and Photophobia (sensitivity to light).


Low level of serotonin is associated with increased carbohydrate cravings, depression, heightened sensitivity to pain, and troubled sleep. Long-term stress depletes serotonin levels and might cause mood disorders, anxiety disorders or migraine headache. Stimulants like caffeine, refined carbohydrates, chocolate, sugar as well as the heavier stimulants like cold remedies, alcohol, street drugs, diet pills and tobacco can also cause serotonin level to decrease in the brain.

In case of mood disorders, anxiety disorders or migraine headache, a combination of antidepressants and other medicines are prescribed. Long term use of these drugs can cause Serotonin Syndrome.

Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome

Symptoms may involve Agitation or restlessness; Confusion; Rapid heart rate; rapid eye movements and fast reflexes; Dilated pupils; Loss of muscle coordination or twitching muscles; Heavy sweating; Diarrhea; Headache; Shivering; Goose bumps; High fever; Seizures; Irregular heartbeat; Unconsciousness and death.

Causes of Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin syndrome occurs when you take medications that cause high levels of the chemical serotonin to accumulate in the body. It can occur when you increase the dose of such a drug or add a new drug to the ones you are already taking. Certain illicit drugs and dietary supplements also can cause serotonin syndrome. These medicines include:

1. Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: These are called atypical antidepressants. These include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine, paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft).

2. Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors: These drugs act on two neurotransmitters at the same time. These include trazodone and venlafaxine (Effexor).

3. Bupropion: It is basically a tobacco-addiction medication (Wellbutrin, Zyban). It is also used as an antidepressant.

4. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors: These antidepressants act on the enzyme monoamine oxidase. These include isocarboxazid (Marplan) and phenelzine (Nardil).

5. Anti-migraine medication: anti-migraine medications include almotriptan (Axert), naratriptan (Amerge), sumatriptan (Imitrex) and zolmitriptan (Zomig)

6. Lithium: Commonly used in bipolar disorder as a mood stabilizer (Eskalith, Lithobid).
7. Illicit drugs: These include LSD, Ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines.

8. Herbal Supplements: These include St. John’s wort and ginseng.

9. Over-the-counter cough and cold medications

Prevention of Serotonin Syndrome

Instead of taking antidepressants or other medicines one should try to use natural methods.
Serotonin levels can be increased by a carbohydrate rich diet.

All meditative activities raise serotonin levels: Spend time in a natural place such as a forest, park, mountains, or seashore. Prayer, meditation, positive visualization boost serotonin levels and your feelings of well being, relaxed concentration and peace.

Practice exercise that increases your heart rate somewhat but not significantly.
Strolling, yoga, swimming, cycling etc will increase your serotonin, levels within a few days time.


Depression, Natural Cure, Serotonin, Syndrome

Meet the author

author avatar maftab92
I am a clinical psychologist from Pakistan. I am running my own clinic to help people overcome psychological problems.

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