Our body constitutes innumerous chemicals performing functions that makes us feel happy, sad, nervous. Most of them are released by the Hypothalamus and Pituitary glands. There are 4 major chemicals secreted by our body that makes us feel happy:
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps in the transmission of signals in the brain and other areas. It is released by Hypothalamus and acts on receptors that are specific for it. It acts on sympathetic nervous system leading to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Therefore it is used in medication. It is is associated with pleasurable sensations, along with learning, memory, motor system function, and more.
Endorphins are endogenous opioid neuropeptides and peptide hormones which are produced and stored in the pituitary gland. It consists of α-endorphin, β-endorphin, and γ-endorphin. Its main function is to compress pain signals. It can act in both the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. It also produces a euphoric state in cases such as sex, listening to music, and eating chocolate. According to a research meditation triggers endorphin secretion.
Serotonin is a complex monoamine neurotransmitter. Approximately 90% of our body’s total serotonin is located in the enterochromaffin cells in the GI tract, where it regulates intestinal movements. About 8% is found in platelets and 1–2% in the CNS. It modulates mood, reward, learning, memory, and various physiological processes such as vomiting and vasoconstriction. Serotonin levels spike when we reflect on past achievements, practice gratitude, and celebrate victories.
Oxytocin is a peptide hormone and neuropeptide which is produced in the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary. It functions during social bonding, reproduction, childbirth, and the period after childbirth which includes bonding with the baby and milk production. It can also be considered as an antidiuretic since it lowers the urine secretion. We need oxytocin to form strong bonds in our personal and professional relationships.
Although these hormones are essential for our body but there are drugs such as heroine, nicotine etc. which alleviates the levels of these chemicals in excess and it may result in harmful repercussions.