• 14May

    What are happy hormones?

    Happiness can be defined as a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. The feeling of happiness is related to release of certain chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters.  When released, they are responsible for transmission of message from one neuron to another, across a synapse (junction between two nerve cells). Scientists have discovered that some foods influence the brain’s production of these neurotransmitters.  Complex carbohydrates contribute to increased levels of serotonin and protein foods promote the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are easily oxidized, so the intake of adequate amount of antioxidants is recommended. 

    Happy hormones: Dopamine

    It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means that it blocks the transmission of impulse across a receptor. Dopamine is strongly associated with reward mechanisms in the brain.  Substances like cocaine, opium, heroin, alcohol and nicotine increase the levels of dopamine. Dopamine action is to cause sense of contentment and happiness. Dopamine is mainly secreted in nigro-striatal tract where it is involved with the control of mood. Dietary changes in tyrosine levels do not influence the synthesis of dopamine.


    Happiness can be defined as a state of well-being.

    Happiness can be defined as a state of well-being.

    Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is a monoamine neurotransmitter involved in regulation of a range of behaviours including sleep, appetite, arousal and aggression. Its activity is correlated with variations in personality and mood and is also linked to depression. Serotonin prevents depression and makes a person happy. It is released on exposure to sunlight, by eating foods rich in carbohydrates and during exercise. The major site of serotonergic cell bodies is in the upper pons and the midbrain. These neurons connect to the basal ganglia, the limbic system, and the cerebral cortex. Serotonin is synthesized in the axonal terminal from the precursor amino acid tryptophan. Dietary variations in tryptophan can affect serotonin levels in the brain. A deficiency of tryptophan in diet causes irritability and hunger. Its supplementation has been found to induce sleep, relieve anxiety and increase a sense of well-being. The synaptic action of serotonin is terminated by reuptake into the presynaptic terminal by the plasma membrane transporter. The key enzyme involved in the metabolism of serotonin is Monoamine oxidase and the metabolic product is 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid. The principal association of serotonin with a psychopathological condition is with depression. The hypothesis on mood disorders states that depression is associated with too little serotonin and that mania is associated with too much serotonin.


    This hormone is sometimes referred to as ‘love hormone’ because it is secreted in response to orgasm, social recognition and bonding. The levels have been found to decrease with negative social encounters like an insult and negative thinking. Foods rich in proteins, oils with HDL and fruits (avocados and bananas) are recommended. The increased release in oxytocin following positive social interactions may have a positive impact in recovery from an illness.


    These chemicals make us feel good, reduce pain and anxiety. They are involved in the regulation of stress, pain, and mood. They are also responsible for runner’s high, characterized by a feeling of euphoria which occurs on prolonged physical exertion. Endorphins are also released during sexual activity and rhythmic body movements. Morphine has similar actions; hence these chemicals are called endogenous opioids. Endogenous opioid-containing neurons are found in several brain regions, including the medial hypothalamus, diencephalon, pons, hippocampus and midbrain.

    Happiness is a state of the mind, and this depends on the complex interplay of chemicals in the brain. Their availability depends on the food we consume and the interactions with the external environment. A sense of well-being results when their actions are in the normal range. Too much or too less may be manifested as mania or depression respectively.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

    More Posts

Discussion 2 Responses

  1. February 20, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    good job

  2. May 29, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Very well explained for a non-medical person. God Bless You!

Share your thoughts about the article