DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Seratonin and Mood: Evidence that Activity and Happiness are Connected

Serotonin, a hormone, is known to be an important chemical messenger that influences brain activity related to a wide range of functions, emotions and behaviors. These include circadian rhythms, moods, and thought. Disorders related to seratonin have been linked with impulsive violence, anxiety, and depression.

Higher levels of seratonin are associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. Too little seratonin is implicated in depression. But too much seratonin can be toxic and fatal. What is needed, it seems, is efficient regulation, which relates to having the right levels of seratonin and the right number of brain structures to use it appropriately. Current treatment approaches typically involve drugs that attempt to increase or decrease seratonin levels or improve its processing in order to achieve a satisfactory balance and the proper mood.

Because depression is a growing worldwide public health issue, new approaches to understanding this brain-mood-behavior phenomenon is in everyone's interest. That's why a recent editorial by the editor of the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience is of interest here. The editorial, by Simon Young, suggests that new evidence supports the use of non-drug interventions in mood disorders related to seratonin.

Without going into the highly technical specifics of the science here, what Dr. Young suggests is that exposure to light, exercise, diet, and activities that lead to improved mood may all be examples of lifestyle- related strategies that can be used to address seratonin imbalances and prevent depression and its consequences. His article cited several promising studies that provide evidence for his "non drug intervention" proposal. I like this line of thinking, because it shows again that through lifestyle related interventions, people can influence their health and well-being. More emphasis on population-based approaches to preventing or treating health related disorders through lifestyle change must be a part of health care reform. Population based lifestyle intervention is smart, synergistic, humanistic, and economical.

About Me

I am a writer, lifelong student, former academic and new blogger. My passion continues to be everyday living. I am interested in what people do, how, when and why they do it, and what it means for their their understanding of the world and hence, their well being.