Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or hormone that maintains mood and well-being. It helps regulate appetite, sleep, learning, memory and cognition.
Sounds like something we could all use more of, doesn’t it? You aren’t wrong. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression.
What can you do to increase your serotonin levels?
For one, you can exercise regularly. Anything you enjoy will do. From simply taking walks, to yoga, cycling or weight training. 30 minutes three times a week is a recommended minimum to see results for increased serotonin.
Second, a better diet can. Serotonin is created by the body from tryptophan which comes only from one’s diet. The body cannot produce it. Some common, high-tryptophan foods are: eggs, sa
Getting more light is a third thing you can do to help. You’ve probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is a type of seasonal depression caused primarily by lack of light. If you can’t make it out in the day time there are many sun lamps on the market. 20-30 minutes of from 2 feet away, not looking at the light directly, should help increase serotonin levels.
A fourth thing to try is getting a massage. Massages decrease cortisol, the alarm hormone (that causes the fight or flight response). Unreleased cortisol can cause anxiety by keeping you on “high alert” and increase your heart rate. Massages will lower cortisol and increase serotonin.
Many experts agree that when trying to quit smoking that avoiding your craving triggers doesn’t work but acknowledging and accepting them does.
Additionally, downloading an app which employs this approach could increase one’s odds of quitting, this according to a study found in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The authors of study claim that avoidance creates a paradox in which avoidance actually creates more of the feeling on is trying to avoid.
On the other hand, one problem with the tech assisted approach is the availability of technology itself. People trying to quit need a phone, a phone plan and an app (which may or may not be free). While for many of smartphones may feel ubiquitous many Americans below the poverty line do not possess a smartphone.
Even though smoking tobacco is now at a record low in the U.S. some 34 million Americans still smoke.
The researchers could not rely on simple data provided by the app companies so had to conduct their own study to generate more accurate data. They created a randomized clinical test in which smokers using two different apps were compared. They found that the app assisted acceptance to avoid cravings method was 50% more effective.
Studies have noted that depression can raise the risk of heart disease and can also make recovery from cardiovascular diseases more difficult than normal. Similar bodies of past research have also shown that blood pressure medications themselves may increase the risk of depression.
A new report, however, by the American Heart Association found that this does not seem to be the case.
The new study published in the journal titled Hypertension found that not one of the forty-one leading medications used to treat high blood pressure increased risk of depression. And the study even found that nine of the medications might actually lower the risk of depression in patients.
The authors wrote in the study that both results were “highly surprising.”
Research from 2016 noted that blood pressure meds that we call calcium antagonists and those we call beta-blockers might lead to higher risk of hospital admissions for mood disorders.
The same study reported that angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers might be associated with a lower risk for mood disorders.
The authors of the 2016 study wrote that cardiovascular meds, depending on the medication, might lower or heighten the risk of mood disorders. However, the new researcher seems to suggest only the latter is true.
Isolation has been a big part of stopping the spread of Covid-19 and those many of those most vulnerable to the illness, as we know, are the elderly. Their isolation often has come at the cost of loneliness due to social distancing.
As the US finds itself in the eighth month of fighting Covid-19 and there still being restrictions on nursing home visitation in some places, advocates for the elderly are trying to find creative ways to help decrease loneliness in seniors due to lack of social contact.
The Alabama Department of Senior Services has piloted a program to provide seniors with very lifelike robotic pets. One Alabama senior simply used the word “Pretty” to describe the robotic companion she was provided. According to officials it is the first word this senior has uttered in a long time.
In Alabama, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania state agencies have partnered with Ageless Innovations to combat loneliness by providing companionship and comfort through lifelike robotic pets for seniors.
Joy for All Companion Pets are made to look, feel and sound like real pets in an attempt to create a solution that is all benefit and little downside (no need for medical care, feeding, training etc).
In New York state agencies reported that 70% of pilot participants reported a decrease in isolation after one year of owner a Joy for All Companion Pet.
A new study in Scientific Reports suggests that subjects that received Botox injections for some specific conditions reported depression less often than those subjects who did not receive Botox for similar conditions.
Professionals giving Botox injections have anecdotally reported eased depression in patients for years though until now no formal study had been performed.
The author of the study stated that it was previously thought easing severe frown lines from the forehead interrupts a feedback loop that encourages negative emotions. The study found that this mechanism could be more complex as the location of the injection doesn’t seem to matter.
Other treatment sites included the neck and limbs. Researchers employed a learning algorithm to find substantial statistical differences between subjects who used Botox and those who didn’t for the same condition.
Researchers saw that depression was reported 40% to 88% less often by Botox using patients for 6 of the 8 conditions and injection sites.
More research is needed to know why Botox might be an antidepressant.