Feeling Good

Hormones are about more than their physical effect on the body. They have cognitive and emotional impacts, which, in turn, can loop back around and change your physical health. No one is at their most energetic when they’re feeling depressed. Luckily, there are four “feel good” hormones that can help you feel a bit brighter.

The first of the four is serotonin, which you’ll probably hear mentioned a lot in conversations about depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are one of the first line medications used as antidepressants. There’s some controversy about how they work, but we do know that the serotonin produced in your body regulates your mood, among its other roles.

Then there’s dopamine, one that will be familiar to those of you with or close to someone with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with ADHD tend to have less active dopamine. It’s not quite as simple as dopamine being a pleasure hormone. Its role could be considered motivational, letting you know whether your brain wants something or will enjoy it. It’s about how your brain rewards itself.

Endorphins are a favored hormone of the fitness practitioner. Exercise is hard work. Sometimes it’s painful. Endorphins, however, alleviate pain, and it just so happens that they can be released by vigorous activity. When you feel that surge of energy and good mood after an intensive workout, that’s partly because of the endorphins. They may be why exercise is recommended to help tackle depression and anxiety.

There’s a fourth and final feel-good hormone and that’s oxytocin. This hormone becomes more important during pregnancy and childbirth because of its role in helping a parent and child to bond. Sometimes it’s known as the love hormone because even outside of the parent/child relationship, it can encourage you to connect with other people in a more trusting, empathetic way. It’s also boosted by physical affection and can be associated with more pleasurable sex.

Other hormones may have an impact on your mood in various ways, but these four are the ones you definitely need to live a happier life. When you are in a stressful or upsetting situation, these hormones should kick in to help ease the burden. If they’re not doing their jobs properly, depression is more likely and will be harder to treat. You need to be aware of what causes mood swings.

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