Serotonin plays a major role in a wide variety of mental illnesses, and the medications used to treat them. It is a chemical nerve produced by the cells that is involved in the function of several body organs and systems. From your motor skills and temperature, to your emotions and appetite memory, serotonin impacts every part of your body system. Its relationship to the sleep cycle and ‘brain zap’ is even more crucial.
The Sleep Cycle
As the day draws to its end, you, like everyone else, feel the need to go to sleep. Though the onset of sleep is quite complex, medical experts have revealed that serotonin plays an important role in sleep because the body, through the pineal gland, uses serotonin to synthesize melatonin. Melatonin is produced at night, and its release in the body peaks in the middle of the night, effectively regulating the body’s biological clock.
However, a number of factors can negatively affect the sleep cycle. Factors such as stress, anxiety, what we eat and drink, medications we take, and the environment in which you sleep can significantly affect the quality and quantity of our sleep. Chief among these factors are antidepressants.
Antidepressants – Effect of Medications on the Brain and Sleep
Supposedly to combat the effect of depression and its impact on the sleep cycle, antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs) are popular choices for the treatment of anxiety and depression, because people think they are not addictive, but its effects have proven otherwise.
Though antidepressants are said to help in the management of symptoms of chronic, moderate, and severe depression, they harm more than they help. They work on the serotonin transporter, which is responsible for discontinuing serotonin signaling. The termination of this transporter causes the accumulation of serotonin in the synaptic space, ensuring the serotonin signal remains “on”, in order to help alleviate the symptoms of depression, according to the “theory”. However, the negative effects of antidepressants cannot be overemphasized.
Brain Zaps – Negative Impact of Antidepressants on the Brain
Discontinuing SSRIs and SSNRIs can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, which are typically so extreme that people prefer to continue these medications to avoid their problems. One of the most insufferable withdrawal symptoms are brain zaps (also known as brain shocks, brain shivers, electrical shocks, and head shocks).
Brain zaps, described as “a sudden buzz or jolt” in the brain, has been described as brief but repeated shock-like sensations in the brain. Though these electric sensations originate in the brain, they typically extend to other parts of the body. By discontinuing antidepressants, these sudden jolts can worsen, and even become debilitating.
While it shouldn’t be so, antidepressants are highly addictive, and this is why people go through discontinuation/withdrawal, which exposes them to several health risks. Antidepressants provide little help in alleviating the symptoms of depression long term, but other more natural lifestyle changes can help, without any dangerous side effects. Engaging in fun passionate experiences throughout the day and eating nutritious foods is a great way to start. Adopting healthy lifestyle changes can stimulate new cell growth and help to prevent depression. There are many other holistic and natural alternative methods that ca be utilized to help combat depression and anxiety instead of putting your health at risk.