Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals across a synapse, the small gap between neurons. They play a key role in the communication network of the nervous system, influencing every function from muscle contraction to mood regulation.

When an electrical signal reaches the end of a neuron, it triggers the release of neurotransmitters. These molecules travel across the synapse and bind to specific receptors on the receiving neuron, influencing the neuron to either send or suppress a continuing signal.

Different neurotransmitters have different effects. Some excite neurons, encouraging them to fire; others inhibit neurons, preventing them from firing. For example, glutamate is a primary excitatory neurotransmitter that increases the likelihood of a neuron firing, while GABA is a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases this likelihood.

Several neurotransmitters are crucial for mental functioning and well-being. Dopamine is involved in reward and motivation; serotonin influences mood, sleep, and appetite; norepinephrine affects attention and arousal; and acetylcholine is important for learning and memory.

Abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters have been associated with various mental and neurological disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Many drugs used to treat these conditions work by altering the activity of specific neurotransmitters.


Neurotransmitters influence mental health and well-being by modulating neuronal activity and communication within the brain, which in turn affects cognitive processes, emotions, and behaviour. Imbalances in neurotransmitter levels or disruptions in their function can contribute to the development or maintenance of various mental health conditions. For example, low levels of serotonin have been associated with depression, while imbalances in dopamine and glutamate have been implicated in schizophrenia. By understanding the role of neurotransmitters in mental health, individuals and healthcare professionals can identify strategies for maintaining optimal brain function and promoting well-being.
To maintain healthy neurotransmitter levels, consider adopting a balanced lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, a nutritious diet, adequate sleep, and stress reduction techniques. Some specific strategies for supporting neurotransmitter function include:

* Exercise: Regular physical activity has been shown to increase the production of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which can improve mood and cognitive function.

* Diet: Consuming a balanced diet rich in nutrients that support neurotransmitter production, such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, can help maintain optimal brain function.

* Sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for maintaining neurotransmitter balance and promoting overall brain health.

* Stress reduction: Engaging in stress management techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, or deep breathing exercises, can help maintain neurotransmitter balance and support emotional well-being.
Medications can play an essential role in balancing neurotransmitter levels for individuals with mental health conditions that result from imbalances or disruptions in neurotransmitter function. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants that increase the availability of serotonin in the synaptic gap, thereby improving mood and emotional regulation in individuals with depression. Other medications, such as antipsychotics or mood stabilisers, may target different neurotransmitter systems to alleviate symptoms and improve overall brain function. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and personalised treatment plan if you have concerns about your neurotransmitter levels or mental health.
Related Semantic Entities for Neurotransmitter