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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Seratonin
Blood Test for Seratonin [posted 7/27/98]
Answer: For my patients, I just order the test and send them to the lab. I'm not sure the lab that the test is sent to, but I get the results in about 3 weeks. I'm sure your physician could do the same.
Answer: Low levels mean something and high levels do not with the exception of serotonin producing tumors(non cancerous growths). These are rare and serotonin levels are usually not checked to make the diagnosis.
Answer: I'm not quite sure what aspect of serotonin /testerone you seek-can you be more specific.
Answer: Serotonin is used by your body as a neurotransmitter. This means that nerves talk to each other and send signals to each other using serotonin as one of the mediums. Certain nerves use this chemical while other nerves use other chemicals. I have two patients with low levels of serotonin and I have never found a cause or many reports in the literature telling me what to do. Elavil or this class of anti-depressant seems to help. There are new anti-depressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These people manifest their deficiency by depression and this seems to be genetic as far as we can tell.
Answer: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter used at the ends of nerves. It is manufactured in your body using the amino acid tryptophan. At the meeting of one nerve with another there is a space. Release of serotonin (or other drugs-depending on the type of nerve) causes the other nerve to fire and continue the message along the "cable". Its other name is 5- hydroxytryptamine and is also found in platelets. Release of serotonin by injured platelets is thought to cause blood vessels to contract.
Answer: We really do not know the triggers for hunger or appetite. It seems that serotonin is involved, but where and how are currently unknown. Serotonin release is triggered by a carbohydrate load (sugar, etc.) and there are many who feel that eating Carbohydrates under stress is aimed at this serotonin release. Other potent drug stimulators are anti-depressants like Elavil (amitriptyline).
Seratonin & Suicide
Answer: There is a blood test for serotonin. Some Psychiatrists use it to indicate the appropriate type of drug to use. It is not clear exactly how this plays with"depression"-clearly the serotonin deficiency in the body effects many neurological processes.
Answer: There are several syndromes that could be referred to as Serotonin Syndrome. First is overproduction by carcinoid cells of serotonin. This causes diarrhea, flushing and tachycardia. Second is serotonin deficiency which is characterized by a low level of serotonin in the blood. Third, a whole bunch of syndromes grouped under this when the physician can't make a diagnosis of the real problem. Carcinoid Syndrome can be localized in any general medicine textbook. Serotonin deficiency in a few articles-check Index Medicus for a complete listing.