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Neurotransmitter Levels - Serotonin, Dopamine, GABA, Norepinephrine

Discussion in 'General Treatment' started by Sparrow, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    Hi all,

    Had some useful insights recently, and thought I would share in case the source could be of help to anybody else.

    I recently came across a site that describes what feelings/behaviours are associated with too high/low levels of four of the major neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA). I've always suspected something was off with my neurotransmitters, but have had a tough time piecing together exactly what, even though I knew what each of them did in a basic way. Some of the statements in this really called to me, though, and made it pretty obvious. Wanted to share the site in case the info was helpful to anyone else as well. I don't like taking any one source as gospel, but this was useful. Some of the serotonin statements in particular really resonated with me.

    Here are the links I used. The site goes through a description of each:
    Dopamine
    Serotonin
    Norepinephrine
    GABA

    Interesting to me was that my serotonin seems to tank (REALLY majorly) under stress, but does not seem to be consistently low (which seemed weird, because when it's low, it is LOW). And not just from long term stress, but any stressful situation. Wonder if there's a connection there with my inability to handle stress in general since getting ill. I was looking at adrenals, but it may at least be a mix. I'm pleased to have figured this out, though, as I've been having a heck of a time trying to decide whether or not I'm depressed. Sometimes I seem to be severely, but other times I seem okay, which didn't make sense to me.

    Some of the antidepressants I was on most definitely lowered my serotonin levels like crazy. I wonder why that is...

    Also interesting was that my GABA seems to be low. ...Which makes me wonder if Cheney et al had something there (as much as I'd be loathe to try Klonopin or any of the GABA meds, given my sensitivities). Maybe I'll stick to theanine.

    And is it just me, or does anyone else with POTS issues think that the symptoms of a panic attack sound very, very familiar? No wonder the psychiatrists keep thinking we're crazy (note: I am in NO WAY implying they're right). I like Myhill's description that the body goes into borderline organ failure due to low blood volume when we've stood too long, or that the heart just can't keep up. That makes a lot of sense to me. Also seems to make sense to me that if the body was going into physical crisis it would trigger the fight or flight response and give a shot of norepinephrine. Anyway, from the description on this site, it feels to me like that may be part of what's happening when I've stood too long. Because that's very similar to what happens to me when I've pushed it way too long and get that signal to LIE DOWN NOW.

    Hope this helps somebody else piece together another small slice of their puzzle! Anybody else have the serotonin/stress weirdness?
  2. anna_o

    anna_o

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    Hi Sparrow,
    I'm definitely suffering from low seretonin and low dopamine, and I have also been researching a lot about the neurotransmitter side of the CFS equation.

    I have replied on another thread that my MD had me complete a urine test for neurotransmitter levels and it was evaluated at NeuroScience in WI. It's controversial because a lot in the medical community don't think this testing is reliable. But in all the areas that the test says I'm low, my symptoms also reflect that, especially in serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine.

    I feel that I am already so low in serotonin that I'm frequently overwhelmed by the basics of daily life, I feel numb all the time (I really don't feel one way or care about anything); and when I'm really wiped out, I am quick to go into temper tantrums. I get cranky, upset and am a complete downer with no reason at all. I long ago lost my sense of fun or sense of humor.

    I'm supplementing with amino acid precursors to the neurotransmitters, have started on the 5-HTP for serotonin and will start on L-DOPA for dopamine soon, so hope to see improvements soon.

    You mentioned that you have med sensitivities and also mention that you reacted opposite to anti-depressants in that you thought your serotonin levels decreased. This may have been the case because I have read that people with severe medication sensitivities can take an SSRI or similar and then have the opposite effects than it was supposed to because of those sensitivities.

    Best,
    Anna
  3. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

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    Lots of people with POTS have anxiety. Other illnesses too. With illness and stress seratonin DOES tank, it is used up for sure. I like to use 5HTP for that. Doctor has me on it twice a day. My doctors test my n.transmitters. With better levels of seratonin, I can handle noise, lights, stress, etc.

    When my POTS started three years ago, it was terrible. My seratonin was awfully low.
  4. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    Interesting... I wonder if it's tied up in my stress/noise/etc. issues too.

    The really strange bit for me is that my levels can plummet so quickly (like, in less than an hour for sure), and then recover a bunch just as fast (though sometimes it takes a day to get back to where they were before, I think). It's almost like I'm a totally different person under stress now than the rest of the time. Much more dramatic a change than the normal waves of ups and downs in mood. Just one more wacky thing to add to the list. :)
  5. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    I had the NeuroScience test too, and my glutamate and glycine were very high.

    This might be a very typical result for people with CFS, since homocysteine may not be converting to cystine, thereby preventing the formation of glutathione. Glutamate and glycine are being produced just fine, but not being used by the body to create glutathione in combination with the missing cystine.

    The result is an excess of glutamate and glycine floating around, which is really not good, considering the problems excess glutamate especially can cause. Treating the excess glutamate with supplements has helped my NMH quite a bit. I've gone from being mostly couch-bound to being able to go out and do stuff a few times a week.
    WoolPippi likes this.
  6. Navid

    Navid Senior Member

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    how did u treat excess glutamate w/supplements.

    thanks, lisa
  7. Emootje

    Emootje Senior Member

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  8. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    Yes, I take TheaNAQ, which has NAC, ALA, Q10, L-theanine, and their co-factors.

    Bedankt for the link to that chart, Emootje! I found a low-res version in their guide for interpreting results, and really wanted one that I could read :)
  9. Gamboa

    Gamboa Senior Member

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    I had my neurotransmitters tested and sure enough had low dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin. It was done by measuring certain organic acids in the urine: Homovanillic acid, vanilmandelate and 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetate. This made sense to me since I have ME/CFS. However....my husband went and had the same test done (it is part of a 60-test panel) and he scored worse than me. The problem with this is that he has absolutely no signs of depression, anxiety or fatigue or anything else that could be attributed to low neurotransmitters. I now am in doubt about the validity of this test.

    We were both told to take 5-HTP which I have tried a few times now but have found it causes nausea. My husband took it for a couple of months and noticed no difference what-so-ever: maybe because he didn't need it in the first place.

    Gamboa
  10. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

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    Everyone is different. I got VERY low on serotonin before I felt terrible. Same with Thyroid. Some would feel bad not getting so low.
  11. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic Senior Member

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    Some of the research I.ve seen on the web indicates that getting high glutamate foods like gluten, soy, corn, etc can help too. Dogtorj, a veterianarian on the web, has been writing and studying this for several years now.

    My moods seem to be fluctuating a lot lately too. I have adrenal fatigue, oi, hashimoto.s and chronic hypoglycemia tho so I can.t imagine my moods not being off at times. Being upright for too long or missing a meal always make me feel grouchy. Not to mention i'm post menopausal now .. Watch out world ... Lol.. Tc .. X
  12. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    Interesting... I had just read a bunch of stuff about the critical importance of LOWERING glutamine. I've taken glutamine (for gut stuff), so figured it'd be worth a try going the other way. There certainly seems to be plenty of conflicting information out there. I guess like everything, it's partly a matter of trial and error and what works best for you. Low GABA issues seem connected to too much glutamate, and that seems to be an issue for me, so I'm going to try that for now.

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