Q: Is it true that drinking wine can increase serotonin levels?—Joseph, Palm Springs, Calif.
A: Serotonin is a chemical that the body produces to regulate mood, happiness and anxiety, and there has long been thought to be a link between depression and reduced levels of this "feel-good" hormone. According to Dr. Brad Lander, a clinical psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the short-term positive feelings associated with alcohol consumption are a product of the release of serotonin. "Some people drink alcohol and [experience a more powerful] release [of] serotonin than others," Dr. Lander told Wine Spectator. "Each person will feel the alcohol differently."
But that serotonin boost is only temporary, and in the long term, excessive alcohol consumption will deplete serotonin levels and can lead to depression, among myriad other serious health problems. Dr. Lander strongly suggests avoiding alcohol completely for those taking prescribed treatment for depression or anxiety. Talk to your personal physician about incorporating wine as part of a healthy lifestyle.—Shawn Zylberberg