Feeling good is a factor that results when the brain getting the right instructions from the chemicals produced within our body and that interact with one another. Everyone wants to be happy but if the brain does not allow, one cannot feel happiness. How does brain control our moods is an interesting thing. There are five major chemicals involved in this process of mood controlling present in our brain emotion centers namely, Serotonin, dopamine, GABA, opioids, and norepinephrine.
Every deed of us, every thinking and feeling and every emotion either good or bad that we, as human beings experience needs the interaction of these main five feel-good neurotransmitters.
These neurotransmitters act on different receptors on the brain and produce the feelings we experienced. Now we discuss them separately.
It is synthesized from tryptophan within our body. Its function is to carry messages between nerve fibers. It is linked with melatonin and cortisol which regulate emotional well being of a person. Serotonin regulates our sleep, inhibits pain pathway and gives us a sense of accomplishment. Low levels lead to depression, anxiety, low libido, behavioral changes etc.
It is found in milk, whey protein powder and turkey.
It consists of five receptors D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5 via which it acts. In the brain, it is present in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area. It is the precursor of epinephrine and norepinephrine. It performs vital functions in the brain e.g. behavioral and cognitive functions, sense of reward, euphoric feelings, stimulatory functions, voluntary movements, also control sleep, moods, appetite and memory and learning abilities. It inhibits prolactin. Low level leads to a well-known disease called Parkinsonism.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
It is present in the wide areas of the central nervous system, and functions as an anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, also inhibit pain pathways and reduce panic attacks, makes the person be calm, quiet and control and focus things. It also increases growth hormones and popular among bodybuilders. It is synthesized from glutamate in the brain and acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
Opioids are famous for its addiction since it can be easily obtained by incision of unripe capsules of white poppy, Papaver somniferum, a plant. Its action is characterized by excitement and narcosis. It acts on the central nervous system by its receptor mainly endorphin and produces the feelings of well-being laughter. It is one of the natural painkillers.
It is also well known feel-good neurotransmitter. It acts as hormone as well as a neurotransmitter. It is manufactured from dopamine in the presence of enzyme dopamine beta-hydroxylase. When acts as a hormone, it is released from the medulla of kidney and when acts as transmitter it is released from the nervous system.
Its major role is in attention and focus of a person. It controls appetite, produces sexual arousal and energy, motivates the person and makes him feel happy. Its low levels lead to depression and anxiety. Since its synthesis depends on the availability of tyrosine which is present in meat, nuts dairy products, and eggs so we can enhance our levels by utilization of these foods!
Because of the number of different stressful conditions, we have to face daily and because of the world we live in, a normal diet should supply enough of the raw materials, which the brain needs to synthesize enough of these neurotransmitters so that we feel good and handle every kind of situations properly!
Amna Sheikh is a medical doctor with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Bachelors in Economics and Statistics. She is also a medical writer working as a freelancer for 10+ years and she is specialized in medical, health, and pharmaceutical writing, regulatory writing & clinical research. All her work is supported by a strong academic and professional experience.