The effect of raising and lowering tryptophan levels on human mood and social behaviour
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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Feb 25;368(1615):20110375. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0375. Print 2013.
The effect of raising and lowering tryptophan levels on human mood and social behaviour.
Young SN - Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
Acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) studies indicate that low serotonin can lower mood and also increase aggression, although results vary somewhat between studies with similar participants. Lowering of mood after ATD is related to the susceptibility of the study participants to clinical depression, and some participants show no effect on mood. This indicates that low serotonin can contribute to lowered mood, but cannot-by itself-cause lowered mood, unless other unknown systems interact with serotonin to lower mood. Studies using tryptophan supplementation demonstrate that increased serotonin can decrease quarrelsomeness and increase agreeableness in everyday life. Social interactions that are more agreeable and less quarrelsome are associated with better mood. Thus, serotonin may have direct effects on mood, but may also be able to influence mood through changes in social behaviour. The increased agreeableness and decreased quarrelsomeness resulting from increases in serotonin will help foster congenial relations with others and should help to increase social support. As social support and social isolation have an important relationship with both physical and mental health, more research is needed on the implications of the ability of serotonin to modulate social behaviour for the regulation of mood, and for future physical and mental health.
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