The Feel Good Chemistry – Endorphins and Serotonin

Science experiment with chemicals Free Vector

Endorphins

Endorphins are a peptide hormone produced by the body’s central nervous system in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, they bind to the body’s opioid receptors and have an analgesic effect on the body. They are a not only natural painkiller released when we feel pain but can also be released in response to stress and depression as well as during pregnancy. They help us to function when we are injured but can also be released when we do certain other activities such as exercise, sex, dancing, eating, drinking, singing, art, or social activities, including laughing (they help us reinforce good social attachments). This means that when we are feeling low mood, stressed, anxious, depressed, aching, have sleep issues or self-esteem problems we can find relief by doing activities that create endorphins, sometimes however, the depression or stress causes us to be unable to do the endorphin releasing activity, it helps to have more than one way to release the natural opioid chemical. Endorphins are a very useful hormones to increase mood and social function and reduce pain or chronic illness.

Serotonin

Serotonin isn’t just found in brain cells and central nervous system but in the bowel/intestine/digestive system and blood platelets too; its sends signals between these areas. These signals can be about mood, sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory, temperature or social behaviour. It is created by essential amino acid tryptophan a protein found in red meats, cheese and nuts. Serotonin can help us to be calmer, happier, more focused, less anxious and emotionally more stable.

Serotonin is a very varied chemical that is reported to have impact on various bodily functions such as: regulation of bowel movements, regulation of moods, impact feeling nauseous when our body wishes to push out a bad food, impact our cardiovascular system, our endocrine system, impact on blood clotting and wound healing by narrowing arteries and increasing blood platelets, it can also cause osteoporosis in bones if its levels are too high as well as having an impact on our sexual libido levels.

It is believed that serotonin regulates the many systems mentioned above, if we have too little serotonin in our systems we can have complications most commonly with depression, obsessive compulsive behaviour, panic, anxiety and insomnia. It is believed that depression could be caused by multiple factors including low production of serotonin in brain cells, lack of serotonin receptor sites (sometimes blocked by other chemicals), failure of the serotonin to reach the receptors, or a shortage of tryptophan. Lack of serotonin can also impact our libido, low serotonin usually has the result of increased libido or sexual desire. It could possibly impact on the condition known as irritable bowel syndrome giving a gut brain link that is currently being researched.

Low serotonin is often treated by chemicals most commonly known as anti-depressants – these are either SSRI’s selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SNRI’s serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (regulating which receptors and the number of receptors that bond with the serotonin, and how much can be used). It is also believed that sunlight (particularly for seasonal depressive disorder), exercise and diet can increase serotonin production and regulation. Low serotonin can have a negative impact on the body and the mind.

If you’d like some face to face counselling in the Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme or Staffordshire area please do contact Wright Minds at laura@wrightminds.co.uk or on 07598810304