Hi, my name is Connie Jeon and today I want to talk about neurotransmitters and your health.
Before we get started, I want you to ask yourselves:
- Do you suffer from anxiety or depression?
- Do you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night?
- Men, is your libido compromised?
- Women, do you dread the weeks before your period?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, an underlying neurotransmitter imbalance may be the cause. So let’s discuss.
Neurotransmitters & Their Role in the Body
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers used by the nervous system to relay information from one nerve to another.
The body relays information through the nervous system about anything that it experiences, hears, touches, smells or ingests– continuously communicating back and forth between the brain and the body.
Optimal neurotransmitter balance is required to maintain proper health.
Imbalances can cause the brain and the body to be overstimulated or under-stimulated, producing neurological or psychological symptoms.
So Can a Dysregulated Nervous System Impact Health?
Like hormones, neurotransmitters require a delicate balance to keep the body functioning at a peak level.
Genetics, environment, chemicals and nutritional deficiencies are a few factors that can result in over- or under-production of neurotransmitters.
Once out of balance, the nervous system begins to compensate, which in time, can lead to neurological or psychological symptoms.
Some of the more common psychological conditions today are known to be accompanied by neurotransmitter imbalances.
However, it’s also possible for individuals to present similar symptoms, yet have unique imbalances.
So proper testing helps clarify these root issues.
Psychological Disorders on the Rise
16 million US adults have had at least one major depressive episode or experienced depressive symptoms. This is according to the National Institute of Health in 2014.
And anxiety disorders, including OCD, PTSD, generalized anxiety, and phobias, affect about 18% of adults annually.
We now know that NEUROTRANSMITTERS PLAY A KEY ROLE in these disorders.
Conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can occur when neurotransmitter levels are out of balance.
So Are You Affected?
It’s estimated that 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels.
Increased stress, poor diet, toxins, drugs, alcohol, and nicotine are just a few perpetrators.
Neurotransmitters You Should Know
There are many neurotransmitters in the body. The primary messengers are divided into two groups:
- Dopamine: Generally regarded as the brain’s pleasure and reward center. Plays the central role in addiction. Improves attention, focus, and motivation. Modulates movement control.
- Epinephrine and Norepinephrine: Regulates the “fight or flight” response. Elevates blood pressure and heart rate. Stimulates wakefulness. Reduces digestive activity.
- Glutamate: Functions as the “on” switch in the brain. Major excitatory neurotransmitter. Decreases sleep. Optimizes learning, memory and mood. Improves libido. If glutamate is too low, migraines and fatigue can occur, which many of you suffer from.
- Histamine: Increases metabolism. Promotes wakefulness. Suppresses appetite.
- PEA (phenylethylamine): Promotes energy. Elevates mood. Regulates attention and aggression. Serves as a biomarker for ADHD.
- GABA: Functions as the “off” switch in the brain. Major inhibitory neurotransmitter. Improves mood. Relieves anxiety. Promotes sleep.
- Glycine: Plays a dual role as a neurotransmitter and amino acid that serves as a building block to proteins. Improves sleep quality. Calms aggression. Serves as an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Serotonin: Generally regarded as the “happy molecule.” Contributes to the feeling of calm and well-being that eases depression and anxiety. Supports sleep. Decreases appetite. If too high, it can contribute to anxiety, celiac disease, and low libido.
So Let’s Further Discuss Symptoms of Imbalance
Anxiety & Depression
Neurotransmitter imbalances are often associated with anxiety and depression, specifically Glutamate (which can cause panic attacks), PEA, Histamine, Serotonin, as well as Epinephrine & Norepinephrine.
An imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters can lead to persistent fatigue.
GABA, Dopamine and Serotonin are three chemical messengers commonly linked to disorders like ADD, ADHD & OCD.
Imbalances in Glutamate, Histamine, Dopamine, GABA, and Serotonin are often linked to sleep disturbances and insomnia.
PMS or PMDD
Imbalances in Serotonin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and GABA are often involved in cases of PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) and severe PMS.
So What Can You Do?
It’s important we alter our lifestyles first to include:
- Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes five days a week. Walking, yoga, pilates, and weight training are all good options. The National Institute of Health explains that exercise has been found consistently in several studies to improve mood.
- Sunlight: Increase your exposure to bright, natural light. A recent article published in The Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience proves that exposure to bright light, such as sunlight, increases serotonin levels in the brain.
- Be Happy: Engage in activities that make you happy. Life is too short to be unhappy. If you’re stuck in feeling sad, simply smile. Actions will trump your feelings, trust me. Listen to music, dance, or do anything that will make you feel good.
- Eat Healthy Foods: Specifically foods that enhance dopamine precursors, such as almonds, avocados, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Avoid processed foods, sugar, carbonated beverages, and fried foods.
- Manage Your Mind: Stress is often the underlying culprit to your neurotransmitter imbalance. “Choose” to meditate, practice yoga, stay mindful, and keep a journal. All are effective strategies to dissipate stress.
Well, I hope this was helpful. This topic of neurotransmitters is one that is very personal to me, as I am raising a son with ADHD and refuse to resort to mind altering drugs for my little one. Rather, I choose to balance his brain to ensure that he thrives in life.
Take this questionnaire and assess where you are today. Share your answers with your health care provider to determine the next steps toward finding balance.
If you or anyone is struggling with the symptoms mentioned above, we can provide proper tests to determine the imbalances of specific neurotransmitters and tailor a treatment plan using food and natural supplements to get you feeling your best.
Feel free to leave comments. As always thanks for reading and please share or subscribe to my YouTube channel today. See you next week!