Serotonin receptor agonists are a group of medications that activate the serotonin receptors in the central nervous system. A low serotonin level can lead to difficulty sleeping, depression, anxiety, and digestive issues.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical the body produces to send messages between nerve cells. Serotonin plays a key role in several bodily functions.
When a person’s body does not produce enough serotonin, they may experience physical and psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and digestive issues.
In this article, we will discuss the role of serotonin agonists, different types of serotonin agonist, the conditions they treat, and more.
Serotonin agonists are a group of medications that can bind to and activate serotonin receptors. This triggers a response from the serotonin receptors, increasing the amount of serotonin in the central nervous system.
Serotonin antagonists bind to the serotonin receptors but do not activate them or trigger a response. Instead, they restrict the release of serotonin and block the action of any natural agonists present in the body.
Serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs) are a type of serotonin antagonist that doctors typically prescribe for depression. However, SARIs may also help to reduce anxiety and help a person sleep.
Selective medications can select and target specific cells, tissues, and organs in the body. They can also give some cells a lower dose of medication than others.
Selective serotonin agonists can specifically target and activate each serotonin receptor with the necessary amount of medication.
Nonselective medications affect many different cells, tissues, and organs. This means nonselective serotonin agonists can affect other cells in the body, which may produce unwanted side effects.
Typically, serotonin carries a message between nerve cells in the brain, which the nerve cells then absorb (reuptake).
Indirect serotonin agonists block nerve cells from absorbing serotonin. This means serotonin can continue to pass from nerve cell to nerve cell, increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a type of indirect agonist. They are the most common indirect agonists prescribed to treat depression. They typically cause fewer side effects than similar medications and can also treat anxiety and other mood disorders.
Another type of indirect agonist that doctors often prescribe for depression is serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
Some common side effects of SSRIs and SNRIs can include:
- difficulty sleeping
- low libido
- erectile dysfunction
- suicidal thoughts
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Direct serotonin agonists work by targeting and binding directly to serotonin receptors.
Triptans are a type of direct serotonin agonist that are
Serotonin agonists can treat several physical and physiological conditions, including:
Serotonin is a chemical the body produces to send messages between nerve cells. Serotonin levels can affect mood, wound healing, and sleep.
Serotonin receptors regulate the amount of serotonin in the body. When a person does not have enough serotonin in their body, they may experience difficulty sleeping, digestive issues, and mood disorders.
Serotonin receptor agonists are a group of medications that bind to and activate serotonin receptors to release more serotonin. There are direct, indirect, selective, and nonselective serotonin receptor agonists.
A doctor will typically prescribe serotonin receptor agonists to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, and migraine.
Other groups of medications that affect serotonin receptors are serotonin receptor antagonists. These bind to the serotonin receptors to block the production of serotonin.