Serotonin and Depression

John Hasenkam johnhkm at logicworld.com.au
Fri Oct 9 00:10:53 EST 1998


7/10/98 11:04

In, "Tourette Syndrom and Human Behaviour", David E. Comings, Hope Press
, California, 1990, the authors states that some studies have suggested that
trypophan supplements can alleivate depression.

Tryptophan is an essential precursor for the production of serotonin and has
a relatively hard time finding its way into the brain. T. oxygenase - in
liver and brain - breaks down tryptophan and serotonin. Various agents -
steriods, acute alcohol, nicotine increase levels of this enzyme, possibly
futher inhibiting the total amount of tryptophan available. A high
carbohydrate diet has been shown to increase serotonin levels. One set of
studies demonstrated that low tryptophan diets can create mild depression.
Some studies have suggested that depressives have low serum tryptophan
levels.

SSRI's can be quite efficacious but do create unpleasant side effects in
many individuals, these side effects possibly a result of serotonin having
both an excitatory and inhibitory potential, but always inhibitory in the
limbic system. I'm curious if the above data suggest that when treating
depression clinicians should pay much more attention to dietary and
lifestyle concerns, even amongst the general population who show no other
signs of ill health. There is recent evidence suggesting the we all have
varying preferences to certain types of food and this variation in food
tolerance has occurred, on a genetic timescale, quite recently - a few
thousand years. , The idea of a 'diet for all' is quickly becoming archaic
and given tryptophan's poor absorption rate and suspecitibility to toxins I
wonder if the treatment of depression must move beyond neurology, at least
as a precautionary first and eliminating step. Perhaps I'm overstating the
case here, but from what I can gather this aspect of diet and individual
variation seems to be frequently overlooked in treating depression.

To  contradict myself, I'm doubtful that serotonin levels alone can explain
depression. Does anyone know of  studies indicating how relative levels of
serotonin, Dopamine, and norepinephrine that might explain why depression
can occur; particularly since severe depressives can often suffer various
visceral disorders, indicating a more global neural dysfunction.


John Hasenkam
johnhkm at logicworld.com.au




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