If you have insomnia, depression or anxiety, this could be caused by low serotonin levels. Talk with your doctor about getting a blood and urine test to check your levels, and alternatives to feeling better. Serotonin is a hormone that is manufactured in the brain, and is also found in the digestive tract and blood platelets. It plays a key role in mood, sleep and memory. Tryptophan, an amino acid, is found in protein sources, like turkey, and works to convert 5-HTP to serotonin.
Talk with your doctor about any medications you're on or conditions you have before getting serotonin levels checked, as these may influence the results. Medications such as morphine and lithium can affect your levels. And conditions such as heart attack, intestinal obstructions, cystic fibrosis and dumping syndrome may make your results higher.
Avoid high-carbohydrate meals before getting tested; this can raise your levels. Some foods high in carbohydrates include barley, oats, buckwheat, yams, sweet potatoes and squash. Vitamins like B6 can also raise your levels. Ask your doctor how long to avoid certain foods prior to testing.
Get your serotonin, also called 5-HT and 5-hydroxytryptamine level, blood test at a lab. Your doctor will give you an order for the test; take that with you to the lab. You usually do not have to fast before this test, but check with your doctor for specific instructions.
Discuss with your doctor about getting a 24-hour urine test in addition to the blood test. This is run to diagnose carcinoid syndrome, which are tumors in the small intestine, colon, appendix and bronchial tubes. Serotonin levels are high with this syndrome.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor to go over results and options for treatment. A normal test result is between 101 to 283 ng/mL. Low serotonin levels can affect mood, sleep, body temperature regulation, sexual desire, memory and learning. High levels can indicate carcinoid syndrome.