How Can I Tell If I Have A Serotonin Deficiency?

Serotonin deficiency

There's some educated guesswork needed here, because there is no way to actually measure the serotonin level in a living brain.

Yes, there is a blood test to measure blood serotonin level – but it can't tell you anything about the serotonin levels in your brain.


Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici at

The blood brain barrier

Serotonin can't cross the blood-brain barrier, and so blood serotonin level is not necessarily telling you anything about a serotonin deficiency in the brain. The actual amounts of serotonin involved in transmitting nerve impulses in the brain is tiny, and varies with factors such as diet and availability of magnesium, vitamin B6 and L-tryptophan, which are all needed to produce serotonin).

It's widely accepted that clinical depression is mostly associated with low levels of serotonin levels in the brain, but sometimes depression is more associated with other neurotransmitter imbalances, such as low levels of nor-adrenaline or dopamine. The usual way that a doctor or psychiatrist figures this out is to try you on an anti-depressant medication. The SSRI anti-depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft will slow down the re-uptake of serotonin so there is effectively more available (SSRI= Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), and these types of anti-depressants are typically the first that a medical practitioner will prescribe for you.

If you've been prescribed an SSRI like this, for depression or anxiety, and it's helped, you can be fairly sure that you will benefit from an alternative means of boosting brain serotonin.

(The converse does not necessarily apply however – there are lots of reasons why a particular SSRI medication might not work for you, or might stop working.)

Serotonin deficiency symptoms

A craving for carbohydrate, together with at least one of the conditions listed below, can indicate that you have low serotonin levels:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • overweight
  • PMS
  • fibromyalgia
  • headaches

Each of these conditions can be caused by a number of things, and a serotonin deficiency is just one possibility.

Read more about the symptom profiles and Serotonin Deficiency Symptoms To Watch Out For

Find out how to increase serotonin naturally....

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Vivienne Cassidy (12 Posts)

Passionate about natural living and natural health.....  Vivienne writes and shares information to support health and well-being for us all.