Ways & How

How to Test Serotonin Levels

How to Test Serotonin Levels

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. It can also be found in the bloodstream, specifically in platelets, and in the digestive tract. Studies show that people who have low serotonin levels are more susceptible to depression and insomnia. While there is no direct way to measure serotonin levels in your brain, you can undergo tests to check serotonin levels in your bloodstream. Here are the steps on how to test serotonin levels:

  1. Before getting tested, watch out for symptoms. Having low serotonin levels is not easy to diagnose. Therefore, it is important that you know the symptoms so that you know when to seek help and ask to have your serotonin levels checked. Some of the physical symptoms of low serotonin levels include fatigue, appetite changes, disrupted sleep, headaches, hot flashes, muscle cramps, and bowel and bladder problems. Low serotonin also has psychological symptoms, such as mood swings, libido changes, irritability, depression, escape fantasies, and uncontrolled thought processes.

    Take note that these symptoms are not exclusive to low serotonin levels, so it is important to seek consultation.

  2. Talk to your doctor. There is no way to check your serotonin levels by yourself. Therefore, you need to consult your doctor about having a serum serotonin test. Before the test, your doctor will get your medical history and ask you about the drugs you are taking, since some drugs may influence the results of the test. Examples of drugs that can affect your serotonin test levels results include lithium and morphine. Aside from that, conditions like intestinal obstructions, heart attack, dumping syndrome, and cystic fibrosis can falsely increase the results of your serotonin test. The presence of hypothyroidism can also increase serotonin levels, so your thyroid hormone levels need to be checked as well.

  3. Prepare for a serum serotonin test. Before having your blood tested for low serotonin levels, you need to prepare for the test by avoiding certain foods that might have an effect on the results of your test. Avoid foods high in carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice because they increase your test results. You should also avoid foods high in vitamin B6 like bran, garlic, liver, fish, lean meat, and hazelnuts for the same reason.

  4. Have your blood tested. Go to the laboratory to have your blood extracted for the serum serotonin test, also known as 5-HT level or 5-hydroxytryptamine level test. After the medical technologist draws blood, it will be sent to the laboratory for analysis. No fasting is required before this test.

  5. Get your results. Ask your doctor when the results of your 5-HT level test will be available. Usually, they arrive after 7 days. The normal level of serotonin in the bloodstream is 101-283 nanograms per ml of blood serum. Low levels can indicate serotonin deficiency, while high levels might be indicative of carcinoid syndrome. Whatever the results are, you should talk to your doctor about it to determine the next course of action.

Knowing the different ways on how to test serotonin levels will provide you with enough options to check the amount of serotonin in your body and treat it as needed. For those who have low serotonin levels, you need to consume more meat in order to get tryptophan, an amino acid used to produce natural serotonin in the body.


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