Happiness hormones and their effect on the organism
What are happiness hormones?
Happiness hormones, termed endorphins in the medical terminology, are organism-produced morphines belonging to the group of opioid peptides. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that are formed in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. They are based on a rather simple biochemical structure, which is composed of several amino acids. Physiologically, endorphins have the same effect as opiate opiates. They are released in different life situations or as a result of emotional states and dock in the brain to specific receptors.
The intoxicating, mood-enhancing or analgesic effect, which emanates from endorphins depending on the species, has also brought these neurotransmitters the popular name “happiness hormones”. As endogenous morphine, they play a key role in avoiding psychological harm in extreme situations, maintaining their general life friends, showing social competence and staying physically and mentally healthy through a balanced wake-sleep rhythm.
Triggers the release of endorphins
The production and release of happiness hormones can be stimulated by both physical and emotional factors. Many hobby athletes and athletes, for example, experience that intensive training leads to feelings of happiness, although at the same time, physical exhaustion also sets in. Regular exercise over a longer period of at least two or three months, especially endurance sports such as long running, swimming, strength training or cycling, lead to a noticeable release of happiness hormones.
Strong exposure to UV light is one of the main causes of endorphin formation. Many people find that especially after the dark winter months so-called “spring feelings” arise when the sun becomes stronger again and the effect of UV light on the body increases. This is because in winter due to the lack of light higher levels of the sleep hormone melatonin are formed. As spring gradually brightens and the days get longer, melatonin production declines and happiness hormones, with a predominantly euphoric effect, are increasingly formed instead.
Other triggers for the release of happiness hormones may be injuries or dangerous situations. In such extreme situations, endorphins attenuate the negative sensory overload on the psyche to reduce the risk of severe trauma. Also, various positive stimuli such as memorable or aesthetically perceived optical influences, beautiful sounds and music, moments of intense social sensations, physical contact with people or animals, humorous situations or culinary pleasure stimulate the production of endorphins.
The effect of happiness hormones
A healthy human body produces various happiness hormones that unfold their relaxing or mood-enhancing effects in different life situations. As the common German name suggests, endorphins control mental and physical well-being and therefore have an effect very similar to that of chemical or natural drugs. Their mode of action is based on the fact that they pass on nerve excitations via the synapses to the brain and thereby decisively influence every thought, every emotional reaction, the most diverse motor processes and the functions of the organs.
Depending on the type of happiness hormones in the body in different areas unfold their effect. On the one hand, they are the basic prerequisite for a healthy sleep-wake cycle and an intact immune system; on the other hand, they are also decisively involved in the formation of the sex hormones. In order for the entire hormone balance to be balanced, endorphins must be released on a regular basis. The adequate production of these endogenous drugs is therefore highly critical to overall health. A shortage not only increases the risk of depressionand other mental illnesses as well as chronic pain conditions such as migraine, but also the general susceptibility of the body to infection. However, the complex interaction of the individual happiness hormones has not been fully explored to this day, which is why the endorphins can only be examined individually with regard to their mode of action and their specific tasks.
Types of happiness hormones
Probably the best known happiness hormone is serotonin, which not only regulates the sensation of pain and, in interaction with melatonin, ensures a balanced sleep-wake cycle, but also influences sexual behavior. As mentioned above, in the spring, when melatonin production decreases, more serotonin is formed, triggering the euphoria and energy associated with the season, as well as the increased sense of pleasure.
In addition to serotonin, the neurotransmitter phenethylamine is responsible for the almost intoxicating feelings of happiness that can be clearly felt when in love . When released, this happiness hormone causes typical symptoms associated with falling in love, such as palpitations and tingling, daydreaming and difficulty concentrating. Even intense physical activity triggers an increased release of phenethylamine, which is noticeable as an intoxicating feeling during and immediately after training. This also reduces the exhaustion symptoms and thereby increases the training success.
For a balanced psyche and general well-being, the two neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine are particularly important. The formation of dopamine is mainly stimulated by physical exercise in the fresh air. Dopamine has a positive effect on the blood circulation of the organs and maintains the transmission of nerve impulses to the musculature. At the same time, this neurotransmitter is also involved in making emotions of different kinds as information in the brain to experience. From dopamine and enzymes, the human organism produces norepinephrine, which is mainly released when it comes to a temporary stress. The neurotransmitter ensures that in such moments the mental concentration and performance, motivation and attention increase,
The happiness hormone of newly minted mothers
In pregnant women, the highest level of endorphins in the blood is detectable during birth. The happiness hormone that plays a key role in the formation of the mother-child relationship is oxytocin. It is already released during labor and stimulates the contractions of the uterus, which cause labor. Many women report euphoric or even ecstatic feelings during childbirth due to the high levels of oxytocin.
Immediately after birth, this hormone, on the one hand, causes milk to form, on the other hand, it is a key factor in the mother adopting her newborn and building a loving, caring relationship with him. For this reason, oxytocin is also called the “binding hormone” and ensures the survival of the child. Men who are intensively preoccupied with their newborn child and maintain close physical contact with him also have elevated blood oxytocin levels.
In the case of women, the concentration of happiness hormones gradually decreases during the course of the puerperal period, which is discussed among scientists as a possible cause of postnatal depression. Oxytocin, however, not only promotes the caring behavior of its children against newly born parents, but is generally an important prerequisite for social skills, empathy and mental well-being.
Negative effects of happiness hormones
If there are dysbalances in the hormone balance to deficiency symptoms and related diseases of a mental or psychological nature, happiness hormones can also be administered in the form of drugs. However, an overdose in many cases results in health problems. Only too high levels of phenethylamine have no negative effects on mental or physical health as this hormone is rapidly broken down by the body. An overdose of serotonin, however, is suspected to trigger schizophrenia. Excessive levels of oxytocin may also have a negative impact on the individual, as excessive levels may promote naïve behavior.