Happiness Hormones: How They Differ and Why it is Important

Feelings and emotions are not just a product of our actions or life situations. On the contrary, the brain of a human is a source of neurochemicals that self-produce and make us feel all kinds of emotions, including happiness and love.

Life today is busy, and stressful schedules disrupt the neurochemicals’ balance in the body. These neurochemicals evolved slowly throughout the year, and have reached a phase where happiness is the key to our physical, as well as mental health.

‘’Depression is treatable and yet, so common among people. I always explain to people who base their therapy on antidepressants - depression is not just a ‘feeling of unhappy’, but an imbalance of the happiness hormones in the body. As with any hormone misbalance, we must target the source of the problem to fix the problem itself’’ – explains Bethy Karlson, psychology writing expert at aussiewritings.com.

The sooner you become aware of the importance of the happiness hormones, the faster you will understand that such imbalance cannot be readjusted by simply taking a pill. Your primary goal to a healthy and happy life is to implement lifestyle changes in behavior that are essential for the balance in brain chemistry.

Neurochemicals of Happiness

The human body produces hundreds of these chemicals, and most of them are still not identified by the human race. Researchers work on discovering all neurochemicals, but we are very unlikely to know everything there is to know about these amazing chemicals that affect our feelings in our lifetime.

However, we do know the most important brain molecules that control our well-being.

1. Dopamine

Even those with no knowledge of chemicals and medicine have heard of dopamine – the system which is directly affected by the most addictive drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine.

In addition to this, dopamine is closely related to the personality of an individual. Evidence suggests that extroverts have higher dopamine level than introverts. This is why extroverts set higher goals and are go-getters in life, while introverts take actions that are more calculated and cautiously performed.

The dopamine is also referred to as ‘the reward molecule’ because of the pleasure-seeking attributes it gives people, and the reward-driven actions. This type of reward-seeking behavior results in an increased level of dopamine in the brain.

2. Endocannabinoids

The Bliss Molecule or Endocannabinoids worn on the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors in the body. The name comes from ‘Ananda’, the most popular endocannabinoid that means ‘Bliss’ in Sanskrit.

At this point, researchers have isolated over 85 cannabinoids from the Cannabis plant. Each of these cannabinoids is some kind of a key to the system which alters the consciousness and state of perception in people.

Some studies show that this neurochemical is related to runner’s high. Whether it is endorphin molecules or endocannabinoids that cause this high, it is still not confirmed.

3. Oxytocin

The oxytocin hormone is also referred to as ‘the bonding molecule’. This hormone works wonders with loyalty and trust. In fact, many studies have shown that a lack of physical contact between a couple reduces the oxytocin level, which drives the longing for re-bonding with the same person.

Surely, the debate as to how much oxytocin affects men and women is still ongoing, but the effects are without doubt very strong. Some researchers claim that it is vasopressin that causes the bonding in men, but the bottom line is – affection, skin-to-skin contact and intimacy are a huge factor that leads to the feeling of happiness.

The digital world prevents our body to release this hormone, which is why it is highly recommended to maintain face-to-face relationships and create continuous bonds with the community. Something as simple as visiting a crowded place is perfect for sustaining the release of oxytocin.

4. Endorphin

Endorphin is probably the most widely-recognized hormone, produced by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The name means ‘self-produced morphine’, but the endorphin is mostly known as ‘the pain-killing molecule’.

As you probably know already, our body produces endorphins when in strenuous physical activity, orgasm and sexual intercourse. This is exactly why regular sex life is recommended – to keep the endorphins level high.

Same as the endocannabinoids, endorphins are also linked to the runner’s high, but not as much. However, some studies show that acupuncture is an excellent way to stimulate endorphin release.

5. Serotonin

The serotonin affects our bodies in many ways. The most common link is made with the person’s confidence and sense of belonging. Therefore, if a person wishes to increase the serotonin and with that their sense of purpose, they need to challenge themselves on regular basis.

Serotonin is one of the most popular ingredients in anti-depressants. Most anti-depressants like Prozac and Lexapro are known Serotonin-Specific Reuptake Inhibitors, used to fight off depression, as well as treat panic disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, chronic pain, OCD and PTSD.

6. Adrenaline

When you ask a person what ‘adrenaline’ is, they are highly likely to respond with something that includes ‘energy’. They won’t be mistaken – the adrenaline is also known as the energy molecule, causing increase in blood pressure and heart rate.

Increase in adrenaline causes constriction in the less important blood vessels, by which the blood flow to the large muscles is increased rapidly. This is why the epi-pen is used to treat acute allergic reactions.

We’ve all heard of the term ‘adrenaline rush’. This rush makes people feel very alive and can be triggered when a person is in times of distress or doing things that scare him. Interestingly, adrenaline rush can be very easily triggered by contracting the muscles and taking short, rapid breaths.

7. GABA

GABA creates calmness in people by slowing down the neuron-firing. This molecule is known for its anti-anxiety properties, and is increased naturally by meditating, practicing yoga, or using sedatives such as Valium and Xanax.

A study has found 27% increase in the GABA levels among those who practice yoga for 60 minutes, compared to people who used this time to read a book. Therefore, one does not necessarily have to increase the GABA levels by using sedatives.

Conclusion

Creating a good neurochemical balance that results in happiness isn’t something that comes with a step-by-step guide or a recipe. This list of the most popular neurochemicals should serve you as a checklist by which you can adjust your daily habits to achieve life balance.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!