You’ve probably heard of serotonin before — this chemical is partially responsible for regulating your mood, and it’s often referred to as the “happy hormone.” Serotonin plays a significant role in your physical and mental health, and high or low serotonin levels can have serious consequences. Serotonin levels testing can be used to find the underlying cause of different health issues.
But how can you test serotonin levels at home? Keep reading to learn more.
What is serotonin?
Serotonin is a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter and plays an important role in the human body. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most of the serotonin in your body is produced in your intestines, but it can also be found in the brain and blood.
Some of the main functions of serotonin include:
- Regulating your mood
- Controlling your bowel function
- Speeding up digestion
- Triggering nausea
- Affecting the quality of your sleep
- Assisting in wound healing
- Impacting bone health
- Regulating your libido
Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. In some cases, patients are prescribed antidepressants to help increase or regulate their serotonin levels. These treatments can target a wide range of mental health problems.
How to check your serotonin levels
Serotonin levels can have a big impact on how we feel, both physically and emotionally. A blood test for serotonin levels can be used to determine whether your serotonin levels are normal or not. According to Mount Sinai, this test is typically ordered when your doctor suspects that you may have a condition called carcinoid syndrome.
Carcinoid syndrome causes symptoms associated with carcinoid tumors, which can affect different parts of the body. People with this syndrome often have excessive levels of serotonin in their blood.
A different test, called 5-HIAA urine test, can be used to determine the levels of a substance called 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in your urine. 5-HIAA is a breakdown product of serotonin, which means that this urine test can serve as an indicator of serotonin levels in your body. According to MedlinePlus, a 5-HIAA urine test can be used to detect carcinoid syndrome, systemic mastocytosis, and other types of tumor.
Serotonin tests have to be ordered by a healthcare provider, since they’re not part of usual screening tests.
Serotonin blood test results
According to the University of California San Francisco, the normal range for blood serotonin test results is 50-200 ng/mL (0.28-1.14 µmol/L).
Can you measure serotonin levels at home?
Some companies have started to offer at-home serotonin tests. Many of these providers offer additional tests for other neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, dopamine, epinephrine, and GABA.
However, it’s important to know that these tests haven’t been approved and their clinical usefulness isn’t clear. Even if the tests can measure your neurotransmitter levels correctly, this information on its own isn’t enough to improve your mental health.
Mental health conditions are typically the result of a combination of biological, genetic, and lifestyle factors. As a result, they require multidisciplinary treatment that is led by a licensed medical professional.
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Serotonin - my.clevelandclinic.org
Serotonin blood test - mountsinai.org
5-HIAA urine test - medlineplus.gov