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The Effects Of Serotonin On The Mind And Body.

1275 words - 5 pages

IntroductionSerotonin may very well be one of the most important chemicals in the human body. Although the full effects of serotonin are not fully known, research shows that it plays a very important role in our lives. Having healthy serotonin functioning is essential to a person's well being. This paper discusses the role that serotonin plays, psychological disorders caused by or coincide with improper serotonin functioning, as well as many medications and drugs available which may affect a person's serotonin levels. By understanding the way in which serotonin affects humans, it will give us a greater understanding of the way our minds work.The Effects of Serotonin on the Mind and BodySerotonin is a compound widely distributed in the tissues of the human body; mainly in blood platelets, intestinal walls, and the central nervous system. Serotonin was first discovered in the body and then in the brain in the mid-1950s. 10 years later, in 1964, specific serotonin containing nerve cells, or neurons, were located in the brain (P. Breggin and G.Breggin, 1994). It acts as a neurotransmitter to a discrete group of neurons in the brain (Snyder, 1986). Serotonin is in fact the most widespread neurotransmitter in the brain (P. Breggin and G.Breggin, 1994). It is believed that serotonin is involved in the control of aggression, in sexual behavior, and in the maintenance of mood (Appleton, 2000). Serotonin also plays important roles outside of the brain and spinal cord. It was first isolated in the blood, and its name reflects the constrictive action it was found to have on blood vessels. According to a review in the Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, "5-HT [serotonin] both stimulates and inhibits nerves and smooth muscles in the cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems" (P. Breggin and G.Breggin, 1994). Abnormal serotonin functioning can cause many psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, irritability, confused thinking, abnormal appetite, and disturbance of sleep (Appleton, 2000). In a normal system serotonin is made within the presynaptic nerve then released into the synapse from the nerve end. Serotonin connects to special receptors on the postsynaptic nerve. Extra serotonin is retaken into the presynaptic nerve end for reuse or destruction (P. Breggin and G.Breggin, 1994).There are many drugs used to alter a person's serotonin levels. A group of drugs that specifically target serotonin are called SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Serotonin is now believed to be involved in depression and anxiety and the new drugs work exclusively on the serotonin system (Gorman, 1997). Some of the big names are Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. SSRIs have been very effective in treating the typical outpatient depressive. Safe and well tolerated, they are usually effective taken once a day, often only a single pill (Appleton, 2000). More than half of all new anti-depressant prescriptions written in the United States are for SSRIs...

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