The role of serotonin
Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, can be found in the brain and in the body. In the brain, it regulates mood and produces feelings of wellbeing and happiness. At the right level, it can make you more focused, happier and emotionally stable. It is also associated with memory and learning, impulsivity, sexual behaviour and motor function. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating, healing wounds, maintaining bone health and digestion, and the growth of new brain cells. Too little serotonin may lead to depression and anxiety.

Serotonin in depression and anxiety
People with depression have problems with the brain’s 5HT (a serotonin receptor) system, resulting in reduced levels of serotonin availability in the brain and body. This leads to poor sleep and appetite, decreased sexual drive, poor tolerance to negative thoughts and other depressive symptoms. After long-term anti-depressant treatment, the 5HT system shows increased activity, ie producing more serotonin.Boost your levels through:
  • Sleep
  • Meditation
The role of dopamine
Dopamine is most closely linked to feelings of motivation and enthusiasm. It plays a role in the brain’s reward process – when it is released you feel happiness and pleasure. It also plays a role in posture, movement, emotion and thought. Dopamine gives you the drive you need to act, and it is released when you are about to get your needs met. Low dopamine levels can result in lack of motivation, hopelessness and apathy.
Dopamine in depression
Many of the major symptoms seen in depression such as lack of motivation and the inability to feel pleasure are behaviours that are regulated by the dopamine system. When a person experiences a stressor, the dopamine system is activated followed by an about 50% decrease in activity. This reduction appears to be influenced by prefrontal and limbic systems. Moreover, the longer the duration of the stressor, the longer the duration of reduced dopaminergic firing following the period of increased activation. In other words, the longer a person is exposed to stress, the longer they are likely to enter a depressive state following the exposure. Boost your levels through:
  • Exercise
  • Getting a message


Depression is also affected by stress hormones and chronic stress.  Read more about stress hormones and depression here.