Depression is a complex condition with psychological, social, genetic, and environmental factors. Some people develop depression as a response to a specific event. Some people develop depression over time. Still, others appear to develop it for no clear reason.
Depression is treatable. But like many other mental health disorders, depression does cause physical changes that can affect the way a person’s neurochemicals operate. Some of the most significant ways that depression can change the brain is by reducing the levels of serotonin that the brain can uptake. Serotonin deficiency is not the only biochemical change caused by depression, but it can be one of the most harmful.
Serotonin and the Effects on Emotions and Despair
One thing to understand about depression is that, even though it has been extensively studied, it is still not entirely understood. But what we do know is that people with depression have lower serotonin levels.
Serotonin is, specifically, the “feel good” neurotransmitter (brain messenger). It is the chemical responsible for feeling joy or pleasure, and the chemical responsible for believing that joy or pleasure is going to come in the future. When serotonin levels are too low, it can functionally change how a person feels and how they see the world. They may become:
- Unable to experience positive feelings.
- Uninterested in previously enjoyable activities.
- Easily irritable.
When a person has lower serotonin levels, their ability to be happy and see a future of happiness is sometimes dramatically impaired. Chronic depression can be especially challenging, because when a person no longer feels “good,” they can start to fail to understand the value of life and their place in it. It becomes harder to enjoy friends, family, and all of the things and people that they once loved. All while their ability to believe that they may find those positive emotions again is also diminished.
Not the Only Neurotransmitter
Serotonin is also one of many neurotransmitters that can be diminished when a person has depression, making the situation worse. Norepinephrine, dopamine, and more can also be affected. This exacerbates the effects of low serotonin and leads to more feelings of despair and hopelessness.
Treating Depression Can Raise Serotonin Levels
Low serotonin can occur organically, as a result of chemical changes to the brain. But the brain isn’t a static object. It can change. That means that even in situations where a person struggles with low serotonin caused by ongoing stress, genetics, or something else, it can still be altered using therapy and other mental health approaches.
Learn more about depression treatment by contacting Long Island Counseling Services, today.