Hormones of Well-Being
Our bodies include glands that secrete hormones and neurotransmitters that provide us with a sensation of joy, serenity, and calm in both our bodies and our minds, respectively. They are referred to as “Happiness Hormones.” Dopamine, Oxytocin, Endorphins, and Serotonin are the four most important “Happiness Hormones.” There is a great deal of scientific knowledge available on them, as well as about the conditions and sensations that drive our brain and body to secrete each of the substances listed above. There are medications on the market that either contain them or help them perform better in our bodies. This raises the question of why it is so difficult to achieve happiness through the use of these hormones.
The Extent of the Effects of Happiness Hormones
Recognizing that gaining happiness is a major human goal, people conduct themselves in a variety of ways, each in their own unique way, towards this goal. Because of, or as a result of, positive experiences and events, or even just positive thoughts and recollections, our bodies are constantly secreting the hormones of happiness and serenity into our bloodstreams. The continual release and consumption of pleasure hormones is a fundamental and vital requirement for our survival, and we cannot function properly without them. For the purpose of illustration, we shall consider a circumstance in which we are unable to obtain an adequate supply of such hormones.
René Spitz, a researcher in the 1940s, undertook a rigorous study of children who were hospitalized and had no father, mother, or other parent figure present. Love, an embrace, appropriate attention, and a proper reaction to their screams and needs were not provided to these youngsters. Children with Down syndrome showed evidence of delayed development, were quieter than other children, and their condition deteriorated over time. Half of them died, and those who survived did not develop or function in the way that they should have. There was no doubt about it: infants die because they do not receive enough love, human touch, adequate care, or concern for their needs. In other words, the study clearly demonstrates that it is impossible to survive without the continuous release of pleasure hormones, as demonstrated by the findings.
The Interaction of Stress Hormones and Happiness Hormones in the Body
Stress hormones (adrenaline and, in particular, cortisol), which are secreted continuously in our bodies as a response to events, thoughts, or emotions, are also vital, and we will struggle to cope if we do not have enough of them to deal with the difficulties we will face along the way. Despite the fact that they are necessary due to the numerous impacts that they have on our bodies, the presence of increased, continuous, and uncontrolled levels of these hormones (particularly Cortisol) can cause severe bodily harm, if not death.
In many circumstances, these diametrically opposed hormones can either rule out or overwhelm one another. The hormones that outnumber the opposing hormones, when the hormones are in balance between them, are the ones that determine the mood at any particular time. It is well known that elevated levels of Cortisol impair the generation of Serotonin in the body. Happiness hormones, on the other hand, have the ability to counteract the effects of stress hormones. For example, when we are really hungry, our bodies generate stress hormones such as Adrenalin and Cortisol, which cause us to become tense and agitated. As a result of eating and satiating our appetite, Dopamine is released, which helps us to relax and to cancel out or overcome the effects of stress hormones. Oxytocin is released during and after sexual encounters, and it is thought to be effective in combating Cortisol, according to numerous ideas.
How stress impacts one’s ability to be happy
When we are confronted with a significant, significant, and nerve-wracking event for which we are unsure of our chances of success or failure (such as a test, serious confrontation, intimidating public appearance, important sports match, trial, surgery, and so on), the stress hormone Cortisol is released into our bodies, causing us to experience the physical signs and symptoms of the condition. If we fail the aforementioned vital test, the amount of stress hormones in our systems will rise even higher, and the physical harm caused by these hormones will pile in our bodies. But if we succeed, or if we win, our bodies will experience a massive inflow of happiness hormones that, beyond providing a sensation of enjoyment, will lead to a sense of serenity and tranquility across all of our organ systems. The positive effects of the happiness hormones counteract the negative effects of the stress hormones. As a result, we can conclude that the ideal sedatives for our bodies and minds are the joyful hormones that are released into our systems following a significant victory or accomplishment.
In part because stress and serenity hormones are typically secreted at the same time or in very close succession, the constant swaying pendulum between overcoming stress hormones and overcoming the happiness hormone can sometimes be highly dynamic. When we are watching a crucial football match, for example, contradictory hormones can run through our bodies anytime the ball is moved from one side of the pitch to the other side of the play. One of the most important factors in maintaining a cheerful mood, which has a positive impact on one’s physical state, is maintaining a perfect balance between stress hormones and happiness hormones, where the happiness hormones outnumber the stress hormones.
Some of the reasons why it is so difficult to achieve happiness by the use of happiness hormones are as follows:
In order to attain happiness by the natural usage of happiness hormones or by utilizing medication that increases the activity of happiness hormones, we must first understand why we find it difficult to achieve happiness.
We can’t control certain elements in our lives, such as our personal, physical, and economic situations, as well as unfavorable occurrences and daily experiences, which, when combined with other risks, cause stress hormones to be secreted more readily. A genetic susceptibility to depression is also a significant component in the development of depression. We have a difficult time navigating ourselves in a way that will allow the happy and tranquillity hormones to outweigh the stress chemicals in our bodies and minds.
It is common for the happiness hormones to perform a dual role, and in certain cases, they may be detrimental rather than useful. Happiness hormone levels are controlled by a form of “thermostat,” which governs the appropriate level of these hormones. Being either above or below it can be detrimental. It is possible that a divergence from the normal balance between them (in which the happy hormones have the upper hand) is harmful. When there is an excess of Serotonin in the body, it can result in Serotonin Syndrome, which is characterized by symptoms such as elevated heart rate and hypertension as a result of overstimulation of Serotonin receptors in the central nervous system.
Anxiety and how it affects happiness
According to the findings of a study conducted in June 2015, people who suffer from social anxiety had high amounts of Serotonin in their brains. Several well-known celebrities, whose sweeping success and popularity infuse their bodies and minds with high levels of happy chemicals, suffer from anxiety episodes. Patients suffering from schizophrenia and other psychoses were found to have high amounts of Dopamine in their bloodstreams. According to the findings of a study conducted at the University of Pisa in 2018, the levels of the neurotransmitter oxytocin increased in persons suffering from OCD in direct proportion to the severity of the disease.
Happiness hormones are not responsible for our happiness
People who have been successful in producing a significant amount of the happy hormone as a result of a particular experience or event do not always know when to cease producing the hormone. Many people have a tendency to repeat the same experience over and over again, even to the point of becoming addicted to it (to drugs, alcohol, sex, work, cigarettes, medication, computer games, shopping, eating and more). The addiction itself causes bodily harm and causes people to lose sight of other vital things in their lives. This, in turn, causes an increase in stress hormones. More significantly still, the more often a joyful event is repeated and becomes a habit, the fewer happy hormones are produced, necessitating the need to increase the dosage.
Important to remember is that it is not our happiness hormones that cause us to be content. What makes us happy is a favorable encounter, thought, or feeling that instructs our brain to release happiness hormones into our bodies, which causes us to feel good. Despite the fact that happiness hormones do not directly cause happiness, they are extremely important because they fill the body and mind with a sense of tranquility and, as neurotransmitters, they return to the brain that ordered their transmission and thus contribute to the prevention of depression and anxiety in people who are suffering from these conditions. Therefore, medicines that increase these hormones can help to prevent depression and anxiety, but they do not help to bring about lasting happiness.
Depression and happiness are asymmetrical in their relationship
In considering happiness and depression as two phenomena occurring at opposite ends of a spectrum, we will learn that there is an asymmetry between the two occurrences. Depression can be severe, long-lasting, and chronic in nature. It may be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recover from this situation. True happiness cannot be experienced in a continual and ongoing manner. Even a tiny bad event can cast a shadow over one’s pleasure and cause it to plummet. They progressively fade away since the happiness hormones secreted into the body do not stay in the body for long. Activities that promote the production of happy hormones must be performed on a regular basis in order to keep happiness levels stable. Even with regular upkeep, the level of happiness tends to deteriorate over the course of time. Getting used to something increases the amount of effort required to keep it at the same level. If we achieve a goal that brings us enjoyment, it is possible that we will fail when striving to achieve a loftier objective in the future.
Asymmetry is so fundamental to who we are that it manifests itself in our bodies through changes in our hormone levels over time. Cortisol levels that are too high can have long-term consequences. They have a life-shortening effect because they increase the likelihood of developing the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disease. Excessively high amounts of happy hormones, on the other hand, may have the opposite effect, lowering the sense of happiness.
Happiness hormones are secreted at the behest of the neurological system and the brain, which work in accordance with a pattern that is governed by the self-realization impulse. In order to actualize ourselves, we are hardwired to strive for happiness on a steady and ongoing basis. Happiness is a goal that we have struggled to achieve for a long time. The relationship between depression and happiness is not symmetrical because, if it were, someone who achieves everlasting happiness would not be able to lose it so readily and would be less motivated to continue achieving more goals in the future. Happiness is a difficult and elusive commodity, yet it is the “carrot” that drives us to continue forward.
Happiness and Stress Hormones: How to Manage Them Yourself
Despite their complexity, happiness and stress hormones can be intentionally self-regulated such that the happiness hormones are boosted and the stress hormones are decreased.
There are a variety of actions and activities that can be performed in order to promote happiness hormone production. There are numerous articles that discuss and detail the events and acts that lead to the production of each hormone independently, and how each of them contributes to our overall pleasure.
One thing that all happy hormones have in common (when they are appropriately created in sufficient quantities) is that they all give us a sense of serenity and tranquility for both our bodies and our minds. This is true for both our bodies and our minds. As a result, anyone who intends to increase emotional serenity and, as a result, happiness, can take any steps that result in the production of any happy hormone. Producing happiness hormones can have two effects: first, it can help you achieve tranquillity and a pleasant mood, and second, it can help you reduce stress hormone levels. In addition to engaging in activities that promote the production of happy and serenity hormones, one can take proactive steps to prevent or reduce the production of stress hormones.