Depression is a mental illness that consumes individuals, leaving them feeling helpless, hopeless, and sometimes useless. It can be caused by life experiences such as loss of a family member or mental trauma in an individual's life.
Depression can occur to anyone, and for a vast majority affected, it is often considered something shameful, causing one to deny the existence of the problem or the need to treat it. Depression is treatable with proper intervention, but it is quite possible that the condition can be recurrent if the individual who has it does not manage it accordingly. An effective way to combat depression is through the use of "happy" hormones. The feelings that we experience, whether positive or negative, are nothing more than chemical reactions that take place in our body.
Certain chemicals dictate an individual's emotions, including happiness. Neurotransmitters help distribute the chemicals that cause happiness throughout the brain. These chemicals are known as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. These chemicals effectively moderate an individual's well-being and can relieve depression if they are administered correctly. Certain foods and activities can also help boost the body's natural production of these happy hormones, especially if the individual is lacking them.
It is important to understand here that feelings of happiness created by these hormones may not last for prolonged periods of time, but it is important that you learn how to tweak them. Why? Because they can help ease your pain and make you feel better so that you may be in a better mood to deal with your problems. You can thus, consider these hormones as natural painkillers that aid in times of stress. They will help you reduce your pain as much as possible until the time your problem is solved.
Outlined below are the hormones that will help boost your happiness quotient and what you can do to help increase the production of these hormones.
Dopamine motivates the brain's reward system and an individual's pleasure-seeking behavior. Dopamine causes contentment and happiness within an individual, and it is the main reason why people feel good while exercising. It allows your body to continue moving and complete your workout even though what you’re doing is exhausting. The end result is a positive feeling of accomplishment, feeling as though the exercise was well worth it. Twenty minutes of light running can significantly increase the level of dopamine.
You can also boost your dopamine levels by setting yourself simple realistic goals and achieving them such as cleaning out your desk or cupboard. Listening to music that you love has shown to enhance levels of feel-good dopamine. If you exercise regularly, the hormone concentration grows continuously in many areas of the brain. A sustainable improvement of concentration and an increase of happiness and satisfaction can help combat depression.
Serotonin regulates an individual's mood, prevents depression, and it can prevent depression from becoming worse, ultimately making a person happy. It is also responsible for the regulation of an individual's sleep cycle, body temperature, appetite, and tolerance to pain. Exposure to sunlight helps the body produce serotonin, which is why many people are happy to be outdoors. Moreover, exercising at a low intensity and an increase in the consumption of carbohydrates can help the body convert serotonin to make people feel better about themselves.
One of the most effective and natural ways to boost serotonin is by exercising daily. That is one reason why a brisk walk does wonders for your mood. Your brain produces more serotonin when it recalls happy memories. Therefore, if you’re in a good mood, you’ve got serotonin to thank. Moreover, 80 percent of serotonin exists in the gut, and thus, it is affected by your hunger.
Oxytocin is also referred to as the "hormone of love" because it is secreted upon physical contact, bonding, and social recognition. The increased release of oxytocin after a positive social interaction will have a positive impact on individuals who are depressed.
Oxytocin provides feelings of love and trust, which is why having healthy relationships with friends, family, and significant others foster feelings of happiness. It can also be triggered by social bonding such as eye contact and attentiveness, which often help strengthen existing bonds and relationships. Being kind to others and cuddling your pet also stimulates the production of oxytocin. The prolonged physical contact and muscle relaxation involved in getting a massage also triggers the brain to produce oxytocin. Stress blocks the production of oxytocin, so it is important to manage your stress as well. Moreover, foods rich in proteins, HDL-friendly oils, and fruits such as avocados and bananas help increase the production of oxytocin.
Endorphins are the body's natural painkillers. These chemicals are involved in the regulation of stress, pain, and mood swings, which allows the individual to feel good and reduce anxiety. Eating spicy foods can help trigger the production of endorphins, as receptors in the tongue react to the flavor by sending signals to the brain to prompt the release of endorphins into the body. Moreover, doing rigorous exercises can also activate the release of this chemical into the body, which lowers your stress levels, thereby helping in combating depression. In fact, for those who cannot perform strenuous exercises, even walking for 30 minutes every day can make a huge difference.
Indulging in a good steam bath or sauna helps us to sweat more, relaxes our muscles, and melts away stress and emotions. This relaxing method can calm the mind, which in turn promotes the release of endorphins.
The Bottom Line
Individuals who have been diagnosed with depression should consider adopting habits that produce these hormones regularly. Depression occurs when there is a chemical imbalance in the brain, so incorporating activities that produce these hormones into your routine will help you in the long run since the effects of these hormones are temporary.
By doing daily activities that activate these chemicals, you can increase your happiness. Therefore, the next time you feel "low," kindle your feel-good hormones! However, if you consistently feel unhappy, then you must see your doctor.