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Question
Posted by: Annelize | 2011/08/24

How will I know whether I have a neurotransmitter imbalance and require medication?

Good Day, Cybershrink


I am curious to know how an imbalance of the neurotransmitters is determined.

Are there blood tests available that can measure gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine levels, and determine whether one needs to be on any sort of medication?


Regards

Annelize

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Absolutely not, and anyone who might claim to be able to do such tests is deliberately misleading you. Chemical balances inside the brain and its juices are not the same as those in the blood, for a variety of reasons, so no blood test can tell us what concentration a chemical might be within the brain ( which is where it matters ).
And though you and I are interested, I doubt either of us would be happy to allow someone to even sample our spinal fluid, let alone to do brain biopsies to check this.
What is said about the relative balances of transmitters is derived from various sources - theories and what we know of the chemicals, research on samples of brain from people who have died, what we know of how the different drugs could affect such chemicals, and so on - indirect information making a reasonably convincing picture.
Of course it would be useful if we could have blood test results which could confirm a diagnosis or tell us which particular drug would be most useful. But there are none.
In some cases one can measure blood levels of particular drugs, and research has shown some useful information about the relationship between such blood levels and clinical results of taking the drug. This is especially useful in the case of Lithium, where we know what blood levels to see, and know that below a certain level the drug won't work, and above a different level it won't work any better and will produce serious side-effects

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/08/24

Absolutely not, and anyone who might claim to be able to do such tests is deliberately misleading you. Chemical balances inside the brain and its juices are not the same as those in the blood, for a variety of reasons, so no blood test can tell us what concentration a chemical might be within the brain ( which is where it matters ).
And though you and I are interested, I doubt either of us would be happy to allow someone to even sample our spinal fluid, let alone to do brain biopsies to check this.
What is said about the relative balances of transmitters is derived from various sources - theories and what we know of the chemicals, research on samples of brain from people who have died, what we know of how the different drugs could affect such chemicals, and so on - indirect information making a reasonably convincing picture.
Of course it would be useful if we could have blood test results which could confirm a diagnosis or tell us which particular drug would be most useful. But there are none.
In some cases one can measure blood levels of particular drugs, and research has shown some useful information about the relationship between such blood levels and clinical results of taking the drug. This is especially useful in the case of Lithium, where we know what blood levels to see, and know that below a certain level the drug won't work, and above a different level it won't work any better and will produce serious side-effects

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