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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The patient information leaflet that comes with Seroxat claims that...

"...People who are depressed or anxious have lower levels of serotonin than others."

There is plenty of information on this blog that suggests otherwise.

Here is an email I recieved today.

----- Original Message -----
From: Dan Adams
Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2007 8:04 PM
Subject: RE: Serotonin
Dear Mr. Fiddaman,

Currently, as far as I understand, there is no way to determine proper serotonin levels in the brain. One major problem is that cerebral serotonin levels are difficult to measure (brain barrier issues). Another problem is determining whether the serotonin is interacting the way it should. This is why treating depression and serotonin deficiency is largely a guessing game. Doctors prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in an effort to keep serotonin in the system longer, but they have to do it in increasing doses until the patient either responds well or has an overdose reaction. Typically, doctors try a number of combinations until something works (I’m sure you already understand this.)

However, some progress is being made, particularly with serotonin tracers, molecular compounds which bind with serotonin and can be traced in the brain. These compounds are radioactive and can be measured in an fMRI or PET scan. We have some friends at the University of Liege, in Belgium, who are pioneers in this area and are very close to developing a traceable serotonin marker in humans. Perhaps within a few years, we’ll have better answers as to how serotonin works in the brain, and how to measure the proper amount/balance.

In the meantime, I’m sure you recognise the importance of light therapy and receiving light in general. Light does what SSRIs cannot; light produces serotonin in the brain, while SSRI’s work to keep serotonin from being absorbed too quickly. This is why several studies have shown that a combination of light and medicine are synergistic, that is they work better than either alone. These studies have been done on seasonal and non seasonal major depression.

A good site to review is: Also, I would be a bit concerned that the over use of light therapy and or the overuse of the combination of both light and medication can lead to an ‘over reaction’. If one feels jittery, nausea, anxiety or mania, one should discontinue the use of light for a few days and then very gradually increase the amount again.

Good luck,

Dan Adams
Research Dir
Apollo Health

People who are depressed or anxious have lower levels of serotonin than others.

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