What Causes Neurotransmitter Imbalances?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2019
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Neurotransmitter imbalances, also commonly referred to as chemical imbalances, can have a number of potential causes. Chronic stress, poor dietary habits, and environmental toxins are among the possible contributing factors to the development of these imbalances. Additional causes of neurotransmitter imbalances may include nutritional deficiencies, yeast overgrowth, and genetic predisposition. A doctor will often take a detailed medical and family history and may order a variety of blood tests in order to determine the cause of neurotransmitter imbalances in specific situations.

Those who suffer from chronic stress may have an increased risk of developing neurotransmitter imbalances. Living in an abusive situation, coping with a chronic illness, or being the victim of a crime are examples of situations that may lead to the high levels of chronic stress that may cause neurotransmitter imbalances. People who experience normal levels of stress or short-term anxiety are not as likely to develop these problems.

Poor dietary habits and nutritional deficiencies can sometimes lead to neurotransmitter imbalances. The use of caffeine, sugar, or the consumption of a low-protein diet may leave a person vulnerable to these imbalances. Blood tests can reveal vitamin, mineral, or amino acid deficiencies that are often successfully treated with dietary changes or nutritional supplements.


Environmental toxins can have many negative effects on the body, including neurotransmitter imbalances. Household products such as detergents or cosmetics may contain chemicals that damage the neurotransmitters. Pesticides, carpeting, and construction materials may also be responsible for neurotransmitter damage.

An overgrowth of a type of yeast known as candida may contribute to neurotransmitter imbalances. Candida yeast can cause symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, and abdominal bloating. Lowered libido, sugar cravings, and muscle or joint pain are also potential symptoms of a yeast overgrowth. In some cases, there may be genetic factors that influence the development of these chemical imbalances.

A chemical imbalance may be suspected when symptoms such as anxiety, migraines, and fatigue are reported to a doctor. Muscle pain, insomnia, and irritable bowel syndrome sometimes indicate problems with the neurotransmitters. A combination of several of these symptoms often prompts a doctor to order a variety of tests in order to confirm this suspected diagnosis. Medications, dietary changes, and lifestyle modification are frequently used to treat chemical imbalances. Herbal supplements may also be helpful, although a doctor should be consulted to make sure these supplements are not contraindicated due to underlying health conditions or the use of certain medications.


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