Among the the many hormones that are released in your body, Serotonin is responsible for the happy feelings and the state of well-being that you experience. Research has revealed that an imbalance in the Serotonin levels in the body can make the person unreasonably angry, anxious, scared and even depressed.
As a neurotransmitter, serotonin plays an important role in relaying messages from one part of the brain to another, thereby affecting how we feel and act. It is believed that most of our brain cells, including those that are responsible for our moods, sleep, appetite, sexual needs and functions, social behavior, learning and memory, and also temperature regulation are directly or indirectly impacted by this hormone.
Studies have also revealed that lack of this hormone can result in mood swings that ultimately lead to a state of depression. Serotonin deficiency can also effect the functions of the muscles, the endocrine and the cardiovascular systems.
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Low levels of antidepressants and other psychoactive drugs in water supplies can trigger the expression of genes associated with autism – in fish at least.
The use of antidepressants has increased dramatically over the past 25 years, says Michael Thomas of Idaho State University in Pocatello. Around 80 per cent of each drug passes straight through the human body without being broken down, and so they are present in waste water. In most communities, water purification systems cannot filter out these pharmaceuticals. “They just fly right through,” says Thomas, which means they ultimately find their way into the water supply.
The concentration of these drugs in drinking water is very low – at most, they are present at levels several orders of magnitude lower than the prescription doses. But since the drugs are specifically designed to act on the nervous system, Thomas hypothesised that even a small dose could affect a developing fetus.
Thomas’s group created a cocktail of the anti-epileptic drug carbamazepine and two selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, fluoxetine and venlafaxine, at this low concentration. They exposed fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) to the drugs for 18 days, then analysed the genes that were being expressed in the fishes’ brains.
full story here: Antidepressants in water trigger autism genes in fish – environment – 06 June 2012 – New Scientist.