Brain Chemistry

Newsletter / Resources

What creates neurotransmitter imbalances in the first place? In other words, why do people need SSRIs and SNRIs, antidepressants, and neurotransmitter therapy, and brain chemistry optimization? There are several reasons, all of which probably interact (meaning in any one person, there is not just one cause.)

1.  Genetics plays a large role in this, as it does in most conditions.

2.  Stress.  We are under tremendous stress – to perform, to be happy, to be successful, to be perfect, to be more than we are, to make something of ourselves, to have more money and be more beautiful and be just like the people we see on TV, who, let’s face it, don’t seem to have our everyday problems.

3.  Diet impacts neurotransmitter balance in a variety of ways.  First, the raw materials for neurotransmitters come from amino acids (from proteins) in the diet.  Unfortunately, once neurotransmitters are depleted – meaning once there are symptoms of neurotransmitter imbalance – simply eating more protein to supply amino acids, or even taking a mixed amino acid supplement, is not effective.  Neurotransmitter production is also dependent on nutritional cofactors such as vitamins and minerals consumed in the diet.  Refined foods like white sugar, white flour, white rice, and fried foods actually deplete the body of nutrients require for neurotransmitter production.  The consumption of food allergens has a major effect on the brain and on neurotransmitters in the brain.  Because diet effects the digestive tract (which, actually, contains at least as large a pool of neurotransmitters as does the brain), diet can effect NTs by impacting liver function; bowel function; and overall digestive tract health. 

4.  SSRIs, SNRIs, Anxiety medication and related drugs: Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax, Welbutrin, Lexapro, Luvox, and Ritalin are all in this class.  These drugs do not help you create more neurotransmitters, they simply help recirculate the (already deficient) amount circulating in your nervous system already.  These medications also can change the function of neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, liver, kidneys, and colon.

5.  Excessive amounts of stimulants like caffeine, refined sugar, ephedrine, ephedra, amphetamines, and Ecstacy – at least in some people – probably impact the balance of neurotransmitters.  Recreational drugs like cocaine, marijuana, LSD, and others impact both neurotransmitter levels, and may permanently damage neurotransmitter receptors.

6.  21st century sensory overload in the form of sounds, rapid visual and auditory effects from television, movies, computer games, electronic monitors flickering faster than the eye can detect, radio waves, fluorescent lighting, as wells as stress generally, hurried lifestyle, overwork: All require the brain to modulate a level of sensory bombardment for which it was not designed.  This overstimulation probably has an impact on NTs and NT receptors; the brain must then calm itself down using it’s precious supply of calming (inhibitory) neurotransmitters.

7.  Environmental toxins and environmental toxicity; rapid changes in hormone levels, rapid changes in blood sugar, and inadequate exposure to sunlight (causing serotonin to be converted to melatonin) are among other factors that may contribute to neurotransmitter imbalance.