Neurotransmitters & Mood
Our mood is deeply affected by the numerous neurotransmitters that are always working to keep our brain and body functioning. They manage everything from normal body functions like breathing to regulating our heartbeat to helping with learning and concentration levels.
A neurotransmitter is a chemical substance that is released at the end of a nerve fiber due to the arrival of a nerve impulse. Seven “small molecule” neurotransmitters that play key roles in how we think and behave include acetylcholine, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, histamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. They perform most of the work in the body and brain. Some are excitatory neurotransmitters, encouraging other brain cells to fire commands and some are inhibitory. They , blocking action potentials helping the brain turn certain actions/commands off. Each neurotransmitter may indirectly or directly influence neurons in part of the brain, along designated pathways, thereby affecting behavior. An abnormal level of neurotransmitters may cause psychological disorders and leading to poor or low functioning.
Acetylcholine plays a critical in the way the brain and body function. It is an critical organic chemical functioning as a neurotransmitter that is released by nerve cells to send signals to neurons, muscle cells and gland cells. Acetylcholine is the chief neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system, that contracts smooth muscles, dilates blood vessels, increases bodily secretions, and slows heart rate. Clinical studies suggest that increases in central acetylcholine may cause depressed moods. It is believed that "changes in ACh levels in specific brain regions could be critical for the control of circuits involved in mood regulation".
Adrenaline is a stress hormone released into the body of someone feeling extreme emotions, which causes the person to have more energy. Also known as epinephrine, Adrenaline, is a hormone (and medication) that is produced when the body senses danger. Normally produced by the adrenal glands and some medulla obliongata neurons, it acts as a neurotransmitter participating in regulating visceral functions. Adrenaline's major influence, along with noradrenaline, is to prep the body for 'fight or flight'. It increases heart rate, strengthens the heart's force of contraction, and opens up the lung bronchioles. Under stress, it is released causing irritability, restlessness, and defensiveness along with feelings of dizziness, light-headedness, and vision changes. Excess adrenaline also increases blood pressure, heart rate, insomnia, and a jittery, nervous feeling.
Dopamine is described as the reward hormone. It is the key brain chemical required for game developers and individuals. Used in all aspects of our lives, and essential for surviving. It is associated with pleasure, thus motivating us. Deficiency causes loss of pleasure, low motivation, sluggishness, and often depression. Released when performing or thinking about a pleasurable activity. Our brain remembers and programs a dopamine path to trigger and repeat the same pleasure reward. Repeating the pleasure consistently leads to addiction. Dopamine paths which provide dopamine to key brain centers are linked to emotional memory. Thinking about the activity that gave us pleasure causes individuals to seek out and repeat the same action.
Endorphins are described as one the happiness hormones. The create an almost euphoric mood and provide energy and stamina, suppressing the feeling of tiredness. It is believed that it helped survival in the early ages, saving lives, as it kept persons continuing on despite feelings of fatigue and hunger. Endorphin deficiency causes mood swings (extreme contrasting emotions). It is often released with moderate to high physical exercise and body movement.
Glutamate is a powerful excitatory neurotransmitter, released by the brain's nerve cells. Responsible for sending signals between nerve cells, and under normal conditions, plays a key role in learning and memory. It is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate nervous system and is commonly acknowledged as the most important transmitter for normal brain function. As a free brain amino acid,it serves as a crossroad between multiple metabolic pathways in the brain and body. A glutamate deficiency in the brain is believed to cause symptoms including: Insomnia. Concentration problems. Mental exhaustion.
GABA is a main inhibitory neurotransmitter. It decreases activity in the CNS blocking signals from the brain. GABA prevents the brain from being “on” all the time. It produces a calming effect which slows down excited responses. Known to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Used to help the body relax and fall asleep. GABA helps calm down typical stress responses. Decreasing blue light exposure helps the brain produce GABA. Deep breathing and mindfulness meditation help boost GABA, lowering stress and helping to get to sleep faster. Environmental factors, such as stress and excessive alcohol use, can increase GABA, causing symptoms of depression or mania. Imbalances in GABA can manifest as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorder.
Noradrenaline is an organic chemical (catecholamine family) functioning in the brain and body. Also known as norepinephrine, it has a greater effect on blood vessels. Similarly structured to adrenaline, but with less cardiac affects. This chemical is made by nerve cells and cells in the adrenal gland; acting as both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. Noradrenaline helps mobilize the brain for action and helps to improve energy and attentiveness.
Known as a neuromodulator, Histamine, regulates the release of several neurotransmitters (ie. acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin). It is an organic nitrogenous compound, impacting local immune responses and regulating physiological gut function; acting as a neurotransmitter for the brain, spinal cord, and uterus. Part of the body's inflammatory response, histamine, has a key role mediating itching, gastric acid secretion and inflammation in the body's periphery. It regulates appetite and perception of pain. Histamine imbalances play a major role in mental health due to its regulation of stress hormones. High histamine levels are seen in depression, OCD, autism and recurrent migraine headaches.
Serotonin is known as the happiness hormone. Typically causes feeling of safety, calmness, self-confidence, and elevated mood. Consuming carbohydrates (like sugar) causes it to be secreted from the brain. When defiencent, persons tend to experience low self-esteem, obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, impulsiveness and aggressiveness. Serotonin helps persons feel calmer, more content, relaxed, and confident. Serotonin in the brain is believed to regulate anxiety, contentment, and mood. Low levels are associated with depression; increased serotonin levels can be brought on by diet, exercise, and/ or medication. These medications commonly decrease arousal impacting sexual funciton
Integrative Balance of Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters & Mood Disorder Links:
Attention Deficit Disorder-https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-neuroscience-101
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=13861
Obsessions & Compulsions-https://oxfordmedicine.com/view/10.1093/med/9780190228163.001.0001/med-9780190228163-chapter-25
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182008/