The Four Major Neurotransmitters and the Neurotransmitter Imbalances
Neurotransmitters are powerful chemicals that regulate numerous physical and emotional processes such as mental performance, emotional states and pain response. Virtually all functions in life are controlled by neurotransmitters. They are the brain's chemical messengers.Interactions between neurotransmitters, hormones, and the brain chemicals have a profound influence on overall health and well-being. When our concentration and focus is good, we feel more directed, motivated, and vibrant. Unfortunately, if neurotransmitter levels are inadequate these energizing and motivating signals are absent and we feel more stressed, sluggish, and out-of-control.
Proteins, minerals, vitamins,carbohydrates, and fats are the essential nutrients that make up your body. Proteins are the essential components of muscle tissue, organs, blood, enzymes, antibodies, and neurotransmitters in the brain. Your brain needs the proper nutrients everyday in order to manufacture proper levels of the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood.
Disrupted communication between the brain and the body can have serious effects to ones health both physically and mentally. Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are thought to be directly related to imbalances with neurotransmitters. The four major neurotransmitters that regulate mood are Serotonin, Dopamine, GABA and Norepinephrine.
The Inhibitory System is the brains braking system, it prevents the signal from continuing. The inhibitory system slows things down. Serotonin and GABA are examples of inhibitory neurotransmitters.
(Gamma amino butyric acid) GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It helps the neurons recover after transmission, reduces anxiety and stress.It regulates norepinephrine, adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin, it is a significant mood modulator.
Serotonin is key to our feelings of happiness and very important for our emotions because it helps defend against both anxiety and depression. Serotonin imbalance is one of the most common contributors to mood problems. Some feel it is a virtual epidemic in the United States. You may have a shortage of serotonin if you have a sad depressed mood, anxiety, panic attacks, low energy, migraines, sleeping problems, obsession or compulsions, feel tense and irritable, crave sweets, and have a reduced interest in sex. Additionally, your hormones and Estrogen levels can affect serotonin levels and this may explain why some women have pre-menstrual and menopausal mood problems. Moreover, daily stress can greatly reduce your serotonin supplies.
Epinephrine also known as adrenaline is a neurotransmitter and hormone essential to metabolism. It regulates attention, mental focus, arousal, and cognition. It also inhibits insulin excretion and raises the amounts of fatty acids in the blood. Epinephrine is made from norepinephrine and is released from the adrenal glands. Low levels have been can result in fatigue, lack of focus, and difficulty losing weight. High levels have been linked to sleep problems, anxiety and ADHD.
Dopamine is responsible for motivation, interest, and drive. It is associated with positive stress states such as being in love, exercising, listening to music, and sex . When we don't have enough of it we don't feel alive, we have difficulty initiating or completing tasks, poor concentration, no energy, and lack of motivation. Dopamine also is involved in muscle control and function. Low Dopamine levels can drive us to use drugs (self medicate), alcohol, smoke cigarettes, gamble, and/or overeat. High dopamine has been observed in patients with poor GI function, autism, mood swings, psychosis, and children with attention disorders.
Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. It is required for learning and memory. Low levels can lead to tiredness and poor brain activity. Increased levels of glutamate can cause death to the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. Dysfunction in glutamate levels are involved in many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Tourette's. High levels also contribute to Depression, OCD, and Autism.
Histamine is most commonly known for it's role in allergic reactions but it is also involved in neurotransmission and can affect your emotions and behavior as well. Histamine helps control the sleep-wake cycle and promotes the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine. High histamine levels have been linked to obsessive compulsive tendencies, depression, and headaches.Low histamine levels can contribute to paranoia, low libido, fatigue, and medication sensitivities.
Norepinephrine also known as noradrenaline is a excitatory neurotransmitter that is produced by the adrenal medulla or made from dopamine. High levels of norepinephrine are linked to anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, and hyperactivity. Low levels are linked to lack of energy, focus, and motivation.
PEA is an excitatory neurotransmitter made from phenylalanine. It is important in focus and concentration. High levels are observed in individuals experiencing "mind racing", sleep problems, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Low PEA is associated with difficulty paying attention or thinking clearly, and in depression.
Neurotransmitter levels can now be determined by a simple and convenient urine test collected at home. Knowing your neurotransmitter levels can help you correct a problem today or prevent problems from occuring in the future.
For many years, it has been known in medicine that low levels of these neurotransmitters can cause many diseases and illnesses. A Neurotransmitter imbalance can cause:
What causes a neurotransmitter imbalance?
Prolonged periods of stress can deplete neurotransmitters levels. Our fast paced, fast food society greatly contributes to these imbalances.
There are many biochemical neurotransmitter imbalances that result in mental health symptoms such as:
If you are showing signs of neurotransmitter imbalance, the best thing to do is to get your neurotransmitter levels tested.
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