Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, treats depression and anxiety by acting as a neurotransmitter. It blocks the transmission of impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Research shows that low levels of GABA lead to mood disorders and anxiety. Studies also show that GABA boosts moods and relaxes the nervous system, according to WebMD.
People take GABA as a supplement to reduce anxiety, improve moods, treat sleep disorders, assist with premenstrual syndrome and treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. It is also used to relieve pain and discomfort, increase tolerance during exercise, reduce blood pressure, burn fat and stimulate the growth of muscle mass. Fruits, vegetables, tea and red wine contain flavonoids that affect how GABA works on the brain, says WebMD.
GABA regulates communication between brain cells. Benzodiazepines such as Valium and lorazepam mimic the natural calming effects of GABA. They cause sleep and slow down the central nervous system. Medication such as Ambien and Lunesta treat insomnia by improving GABA's ability to bind to brain receptors. GABA supplements increase the level of chemicals circulating in the blood. Low levels of GABA indicate schizophrenia, states Everyday Health.
Poor diet and exposure to environmental toxins depletes GABA reserves in the brain. GABA blocks pain related nerve impulses. It is taken orally in tablet, powder and capsule form, according to Whole Health Chicago.