Increase Serotonin Naturally - A Few Easy Options

Posted on July 29, 2012 by Serotune | 0 comments

Serotonin levels in your body directly affect your mood and low serotonin levels have been linked to clinical depression. It’s been proven that maintaining healthy levels of serotonin can reduce or prevent the symptoms of depression. [1]

Many researchers recognize the importance of prevention and in a recent article in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience outlined several methods that can help boost serotonin levels naturally in an effort to stave off depression symptoms.

It may sound simple, but researchers found that thinking happy thoughts can actually increase your serotonin levels. In their study, they used positron emission tomography (PET scans) to measure serotonin in healthy volunteers while they were exposed to either positive or negative stimuli. The participants reported whether they felt happy or sad, which correlated directly with the production of serotonin. The happier the subject felt, the more serotonin they produced. [2]

The article also reported the findings of several studies on how exposure to bright light can increase your serotonin levels. Bright light is already widely used to treat seasonal depression so it isn’t a far leap to expect bright light to be an effective treatment for other types of depressive orders as well. [3] Several studies showed a direct correlation between the amount of sunlight or bright light exposure and the amount of serotonin your body produces: levels were higher in test subjects during the daytime when they were exposed to sunlight.

Exercise can also increase your serotonin production. Multiple studies have suggested that physical activity has a positive affect on mood, increasing serotonin in various parts of the brain. In addition, physical activity increases the firing rates of serotonin neurons which causes an increase in production and release of serotonin. [4] And, there is clinical proof that there is an increase in the tryptophan that remains in the brain even after you stop exercising. Tryptophan is metabolized into serotonin. Researchers agree that aerobic exercise can improve your mood.

Not long ago, our ancestors worked outside taking advantage of the bright sunlight to harvest crops, build houses, or hunt for food. There has been a huge shift in the amount of vigorous activity and time spent outside from just a hundred years ago to today. This downward trend has resulted in an increase in depression. [5]

In each of these studies, methods to improve mood by naturally stimulating an increase in serotonin levels were tested. In every case, natural methods worked. If you experience mild feelings of depression, one of these natural methods might be just what you need.


1.  Neumeister A, Young T, Stastny J. Implications of genetic research on the role of the serotonin in depression: emphasis on the serotonin type 1A receptor and the serotonin transporter. Psychopharmacology (Berl)2004;174:512-24. [PubMed]

2.  Perreau-Linck E, Beauregard M, Gravel P, et al. In vivo measurements of brain trapping of α-[11C]methyl-L-tryptophan during acute changes in mood states. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2007;32:430-4.

3.  Golden RN, Gaynes BN, Ekstrom RD, et al. The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence. Am J Psychiatry2005;162:656-62. [PubMed]

4.  Rueter LE, Jacobs BL. A microdialysis examination of serotonin release in the rat forebrain induced by behavioral/environmental manipulations. Brain Res1996;739:57-69. [PubMed]

5.  Lambert KG. Rising rates of depression in today's society: Consideration of the roles of effort-based rewards and enhanced resilience in day-to-day functioning. Neurosci Biobehav Rev2006;30:497-510. [PubMed]

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