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5 Signs of Low Serotonin and What to Do About it


5 Signs of Low Serotonin and What to Do About it

If you've ever felt like your mood, sleep, or feelings of self esteem are inconsistent, there's a good chance you could be experiencing low serotonin levels. This neurotransmitter is a key player in mood, learning, appetite control and sleep, so when it's not functioning optimally, it can cause a variety of troubling symptoms. 

Our bodies and minds are sensitive things easily affected by our environments and experiences, but we’re also strong and resilient! With the right care and support, we all have the innate ability to face life’s challenges and to feel a sense of calm. Fortunately, there are several ways to boost your serotonin naturally through diet and lifestyle.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and hormone, sometimes known as “the happy chemical.” As a neurotransmitter, serotonin sends messages between nerve cells in the brain by attaching itself to receptors on those cells. In this way it can influence how you feel about yourself and others--for example whether you feel confident or anxious. (1)

Where and how is serotonin created?

You might be surprised to know that even though serotonin plays such a large role in brain health, it is actually mostly produced in the gut (2). It is created from the essential amino acid tryptophan, which cannot be produced in the body and must be obtained through diet. For both of these reasons, gut health and proper nutrition are so important for mental health!

What causes low serotonin?

Here at PYM, we know that whole-self wellness starts with the realization that the body is a complex organism of intricately connected systems that rely on each other for balance. That means when there is one imbalance, it leads to another, which leads to another, and so on. It also means it’s hard to pinpoint one “cause” of any particular problem!

That’s why we’ve formulated all of our mental hygiene products to support all your body’s complex systems on a holistic level. If you want to know where to get started, try our Serotonin Support bundle with PYM's Mood B Complete and Mood Biotics.

Here are some common contributors to low serotonin:


1. Chronic stress 

Chronic stress increases cortisol levels, which inhibits your body's ability to make serotonin and dopamine. It actually damages the receptor sites of these neurotransmitters. Chronic stress can be caused by mental and emotional stress, or physical stressors like illness, injury, surgery, or an inflammatory diet. (3)

2. Poor sleep habits 

There is kind of a vicious cycle when it comes to the relationship of serotonin and sleep. Serotonin is a precursor to creating melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy, but without healthy sleep, our bodies struggle to produce serotonin, and therefore struggle to create melatonin.

3. Poor gut health

Your gut manufactures up to 95% of your body’s serotonin (4). That means if you’re dealing with chronic digestive issues like IBS, leaky gut, Candida overgrowth, or SIBO, there’s a likely chance your serotonin production is being impaired, particularly if you’re not absorbing tryptophan, the essential amino acid that converts to serotonin. Having low serotonin creates yet another vicious cycle, as serotonin is paramount for supporting proper nutrient absorption and digestion. 

4. Restrictive diets

Low carb, low protein, low fat, low cal…the list goes on of restrictive diets that remove key macro and micronutrients our body needs to manufacture neurotransmitters. 

Other contributors can be hormonal shifts due to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause, certain drugs and medications, and some inherited genetic disorders that may affect the body’s ability to make or metabolize serotonin.

5 biggest signs you may be experiencing low serotonin


1. Insomnia, fatigue throughout the day, or having trouble waking

As mentioned before, the healthier our levels of serotonin, the more likely it is that we'll have healthy levels of melatonin too. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating sleep cycles so if you're having trouble sleeping at night it could be due to low levels of this neurotransmitter. (5)

2. Frequent cravings for sugar and carbs

Our body's are extremely intelligent and will crave things that will increase our serotonin.  This means carbs like cookies, candy, breads, and pasta. Because sugar boosts serotonin levels, you feel happier (but only temporarily), so your brain keeps craving this “happy” chemical again and again.

3. Mood swings and depression or anxiety

Low levels of serotonin have been linked to a wide range of mood disorders including major depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), postpartum depression and anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

4. Chronic pain and migraine headaches

Serotonin affects the way the muscles behave, so low serotonin may cause chronic pain. Low serotonin is strongly correlated with fibromyalgia, a type of widespread chronic pain.

5. Low self esteem, imposter syndrome and low confidence

Serotonin boosts will power, self-esteem, inner satisfaction, confidence and a sense of purpose. With lower levels, you may feel low self esteem. (6)

Other common symptoms of low serotonin include negative thoughts, irritability, memory problems, changes in appetite, and loss of interest in sex.

How to boost levels of serotonin naturally


1. Get adequate protein for tryptophan and B vitamins

Serotonin is derived from tryptophan, which is found in protein.  A few good sources are chicken, pork loin, ground beef, tuna, salmon, and eggs.  Make sure you are balancing your plate and including 4-6oz. of protein. 

B vitamins are essential to convert tryptophan into functional serotonin, and about 40% of people have the MTHFR gene mutation which makes it difficult for your body to absorb B vitamins unless they’re methylated. That’s why we created PYM Mood B Complete with methylated B vitamins and a blend of 9 essential vitamins and minerals proven to boost serotonin and mood.

2. Improve gut health

You can support gut health by eating prebiotic and probiotic foods like pineapple, miso, kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha, as well as getting adequate fiber to assist with digestion through lots of fruits and vegetables.

PYM Mood Biotics is a 6-strain probiotic and prebiotic blend designed to support the gut-brain connection for optimal neurotransmitter signaling.

3. Move it and groove it

Research shows that exercise increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, just like medications can. Exercise improves and helps regulate neurotransmitter levels, which ultimately helps us feel mentally healthy. 

In particular, there have been many studies that show the positive effects of dancing in community and with music to increase serotonin and reduce stress. (7

4. Get those beauty ZZZ’s

Limiting screen time or using blue light blocking sunglasses before bedtime, and turning down the lights in the evening can help your body produce melatonin and get a better night’s rest, and therefore encourage serotonin production. Having an established bedtime routine can help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.

PYM Mood Magnesium was designed to fit seamlessly into your bedtime routine with a premium amino-infused magnesium blend that has been proven to support sleep, stress and mental well-being.

5. Let there be light!

Sunshine stimulates serotonin production, and getting natural sunlight first thing in the morning helps regulate your circadian rhythm, so try taking a quick walk outside first thing in the morning.