In our brain, special types of hormones are synthesized, which transfer information from one neuron to another. They are specifically responsible for such organisms as movement, emotional reactions and physical ability to feel pleasure and pain. The most famous neurotransmitters affecting mood regulation are serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, acetylcholine and GABA.
The neurotransmitters have the following effect on mental health:
- affect the mood and thinking process;
- control the ability to concentrate and remember;
- control appetite center in the brain;
- regulate sleep.
Types of neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters can be roughly divided into two categories – exciting and inhibitory. Some neurotransmitters can perform both these functions. Excitatory neurotransmitters can be considered as “switches” of the nervous system, increasing the probability of transmission of an exciting signal.
They act like a car accelerator pedal, pressing it increases the engine speed. Exciting mediators control the most basic functions of the body, including: thinking processes, reaction of struggle or flight, motor movements and higher thinking. Physiologically stimulating neurotransmitters act as natural stimulants of the body, generally increasing liveliness, activity and vigor. If there were no braking system acting in the opposite direction, this could lead to a loss of control of the body.
Braking neurotransmitters are “switches” of the nervous system, reducing the probability of transmission of an exciting signal. In the brain, excitation should be in equilibrium with inhibition. Too much excitement leads to anxiety, irritability, insomnia and even seizures. Braking neurotransmitters regulate the activity of stimulating neurotransmitters, acting similarly to the brakes of a car. The braking system slows down the processes. Physiologically inhibitory neurotransmitters act as natural tranquilizers of the body, causing drowsiness, promoting calm and reducing aggressiveness.
Overview of neurotransmitters
Acetylcholine heals memory and promotes learning.
Dopamine is mainly responsible for sexual attraction, mood, vivacity and movement.
Norepinephrine adrenaline affects liveliness, arousal and mood.
Serotonin affects the mood, appetite, emotional balance and motivation management.
GABA promotes relaxation and calmness.
The release of acetylcholine may exert an exciting or inhibitory effect depending on the type of tissue and the nature of the receptor with which it interacts. Acetylcholine plays many different roles in the nervous system. Its main action is stimulation of the skeletal muscle system. It is this neurotransmitter that causes conscious contraction or relaxation of the muscles.
In the brain, acetylcholine affects memory and learning ability. Acetylcholine has a small molecular weight. It is also found in the hippocampus and in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The hippocampus is responsible for memorizing and retrieving the stored information. Alzheimer’s disease is associated with the lack of acetylcholine in certain areas of the brain.
Dopamine can act as an exciting and inhibitory neurotransmitter. In the brain, he acts as a neurotransmitter, responsible for a good mood. It is part of the brain stimulation system and causes feelings of satisfaction or pleasure when we do what we like, for example, eat or have sex.
Such narcotic substances as cocaine, nicotine, opiates, heroin and alcohol increase the level of dopamine. Delicious food and sex also cause an increase in dopamine levels. For this reason, many researchers believe that there is a deficit of dopamine in the brain behind the addiction of some people to smoking, drug and alcohol use, promiscuity in choosing sexual partners, gambling and overeating.
Dopamine performs a variety of functions that affect memory, motor control and pleasure. Thanks to him, we can show liveliness, be motivated and feel satisfied.
Dopamine is associated with conditions of positive stress, such as falling in love, doing exercise, listening to music and sex. After synthesis, dopamine can be consistently converted to other neurotransmitters of the brain – norepinephrine and adrenaline.
However, an excessive amount of something good can also be bad. An increased level of dopamine in the frontal segment of the brain leads to inconsistent and intermittent thought processes characteristic of schizophrenia. If the environment causes hyperstimulation, an excessively high level of dopamine leads to excitation and increased energy, which then change to suspicion and paranoia.
At too low a level of dopamine, we lose the ability to concentrate. When it is too high, the concentration becomes narrowed and intense. A high level of dopamine is observed in patients with insufficient gastrointestinal function, autism, abrupt mood changes, aggressiveness, psychosis, neurosis of fear, hyperactivity, and in children with attention disorders.
Too low levels of dopamine in the motor areas of the brain cause Parkinson’s disease, leading to uncontrolled muscle tremors. Decrease in dopamine levels in the brain areas responsible for thinking processes is associated with cognitive problems (poor memory and insufficient ability to learn), insufficient concentration, difficulties in initializing or completing various tasks, inadequate ability to concentrate on tasks and conversations with the interlocutor, lack of vigor , motivation, inability to enjoy life, bad habits and desires, obsessive states, lack of pleasure from activity, to Thoraya previously was pleasant, as well as the slow motor movements.
Adrenaline is an exciting neurotransmitter. It is formed from norepinephrine and is released together with noradrenaline in response to fear or anger. This reaction, known as the “reaction of flight or struggle,” prepares the body for strenuous activity.
Adrenaline regulates mindfulness, excitement, cognitive processes, sexual arousal and concentration of thought processes. He is also responsible for regulating metabolism. In medicine, epinephrine is used as a stimulant for cardiac arrest, a means for constricting vessels in shock, an antispasmodic and bronchodilator with bronchial asthma and anaphylaxis.
Too high levels of adrenaline lead to anxiety, fear, sleep problems, acute stress, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Excessive amounts of adrenaline can also cause irritability, insomnia, increased blood pressure and increased heart rate.
A low level of adrenaline, among other things, contributes to weight gain, fatigue, poor concentration and low sexual arousal.
Stress contributes to the depletion of adrenaline in the body, and physical activity contributes to their increase.
GABA is an abbreviated name for gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system, which plays a significant role in regulating fear and anxiety and reducing the impact of stress. GABA has a calming effect on the brain and helps the brain to filter out “extraneous noise.”
It improves concentration of attention and soothes nerves. GABA acts as a brake on stimulating neurotransmitters, which can cause fear and anxiety with excessive stimulation. It regulates the action of norepinephrine, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin, and is also an important mood modulator. The primary function of GABA is to prevent excessive stimulation.
Glutamate is an important exciting neurotransmitter associated with learning and memory processes. It is also believed that he is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The glutamate molecule is one of the main molecules in the processes of cellular metabolism. It was found that glutamate plays a role in epileptic seizures.
It is also one of the main food ingredients that creates a taste. Glutamate is found in all types of food containing proteins such as cheese, milk, mushrooms, meat, fish and many vegetables. Glutamate sodium is a sodium salt of glutamic acid.
Excess amounts of glutamate are toxic to neurons and cause the development of neurological disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, peripheral neuropathies, chronic pain, schizophrenia, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
Insufficient amounts of glutamate can play a role in impaired memory and learning ability.
Histamine is best known for its role in allergic reactions. It also plays a role in the transmission of nerve impulses and can affect the emotions and behavior of a person. Histamine helps to control the cycle of sleep and awakening and promotes the release of epinephrine and noradrenaline.
A high level of histamine was associated with obsessive manic states, depression and headaches.
A low level of histamine can promote the development of paranoia, low libido, fatigue, and sensitivity to medicines.
This class of neurotransmitters includes serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, glutamate and dopamine. According to the so-called monoamine hypothesis, mood disorders are caused by the depletion of one or more of these neurotransmitters.
Norepinephrine is an exciting neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the concentration of attention. Norepinephrine is synthesized from dopamine and plays an important role in the nervous system during the “fight or flight” reaction.
Norepinephrine initiates the release of hormones from the limbic segment of the brain that signal other stress hormones about the actions in a crisis situation. It can raise blood pressure and heart rate, and also accelerate metabolism, raise body temperature and stimulate smooth muscles of the bronchi to promote breathing. Norepinephrine plays an important role in remembering.
Apparently, an increased amount of norepinephrine contributes to a state of fear and anxiety. Under stress conditions, norepinephrine in the brain increases.
Increasing the level of norepinephrine leads to increased lively, improves mood and sexual desire. However, a large amount of norepinephrine raises blood pressure, heart rate, causes hyperactivity, a sense of fear, anxiety, panic and stress, insuperable fear, irritability and insomnia.
A low level of norepinephrine is associated with a lack of energy, concentration and motivation. Deficiency of norepinephrine also contributes to depression, lack of liveliness and poor memory.
Fenethylamine is an exciting neurotransmitter synthesized from phenylalamine. It plays an important role in the concentration of attention.
Elevated levels of phenethylamine are observed in people with manic addictions, sleep disorders and schizophrenia.
Low levels of phenethylamine are associated with problems of attention and clear thinking, as well as with depression.
Serotonin is a retarding neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation, anxiety, libido, obsessive, headaches, body temperature, appetite disorders, social disorders, phobias, sleep, memory and learning processes, cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, and endocrine regulation . However, usually serotonin has a different effect.
Serotonin plays an important role in the regulation of sleep and mood. The appropriate amount of circulating serotonin contributes to relaxation. Stress reduces the amount of serotonin, because the body uses its reserves to calm.
Low levels of serotonin can lead to depressive mood, anxiety, low energy, migraine, sleep disorders, obsessive or manic conditions, feelings of tension and irritation, cravings for sweets or loss of appetite, memory impairment and concentration, angry and aggressive behavior, slowed down movement of muscles , slowed speech, changing the time of falling asleep and waking up, reducing interest in sex.
The excessive amount of serotonin causes sedation, a decrease in sexual arousal, a sense of well-being, bliss and a sense of merging with the universe. However, if the level of serotonin becomes too high, it can lead to the development of a serotonin syndrome, which can be fatal.
Factors affecting the production of serotonin
The levels of various hormones, including estrogen, can affect the amount of serotonin. This explains the fact that some women have problems with their moods in the premenstrual period, as well as in menopause. In addition, daily stress can significantly reduce the supply of serotonin in the body.
Physical exercises and good lighting help stimulate the synthesis of serotonin and increase its number. Antidepressants also help the brain to restore the reserves of serotonin. Recently, to increase the amount of serotonin, antidepressants of the SSRI class (selective serotonin uptake inhibitors, selective inhibitors of serotonin absorption) are used.
Taurine is a retarding neurotransmitter with a neuromodulatory and neuroprotective effect. The intake of taurine can enhance the function of GABA, so taurine is an important neuromodulator in preventing feelings of fear and anxiety.
The goal of such an enhancement of GABA function is to prevent excessive stimulation due to the increased content of excitatory amines, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. Thus, taurine and GABA form a mechanism that protects against an excessive number of exciting neurotransmitters.