Hormones vs circumstances: what is responsible for our mood

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It is known that our hormones are waging an invisible struggle for the joys of life with us. If the chemistry of the body fails, then both a beach chair on the seashore and a glass of sparkling wine will seem like a surrogate, let alone an office chair and take-away coffee. Let’s figure out what hormones do exactly and whether they are the root cause of happiness or its consequence.

Who is responsible for happiness

Scientists thinkthat happiness is the result of the integration of two factors, external and internal.

  • The external factor is physically tangible things: the place where we live; the food that we eat; the people we communicate with; the amount that “falls” on the account every month.
  • The internal factor – biological – is the result of hormones, health and genes… It is generally accepted that on a chemical level, hormones from neurotransmitters are responsible for our best emotions and urges. These are dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins.

The difference between hormones and neurotransmitters

In fairness, not everything that inspires us is hormones. Some substances appear from the nerve cell and through the so-called. the synaptic cleft “reaches” the next neuron or muscle, where they have an effect. These are neurotransmitters such as dopamine and endorphins. Other substances are secreted by the glands, enter the bloodstream, and then are delivered to various organs. These are hormones, such as adrenaline. Certain chemical elements can be hormones and neurotransmitters. This is the case, for example, with oxytocin and serotonin.

How it works


This neurotransmitter is produced in at least two areas of the brain: the ventral operculum and the substantia nigra. Dopamine from the substantia nigra helps us move and talk. Dopamine from the ventral lining motivates us to take actions that will lead to some kind of reward.

The reward can be different: a cake, a favorite track in headphones or a good shopping – everything counts. If we get pleasure from something, our brain regards it as a benefit and rewards us with a dose of dopamine. He seems to whisper to the body: “You need this more!” And it doesn’t matter – what, shoes, chocolate or new information from the Internet.

Dopamine alters a person’s behavior in such a way that he looks again and again for ways to get the joy of having “useful”. This scheme plays an important role in the formation of drug addiction. However, don’t you think that the new shoes really look like a drug?


Serotonin, or scientifically – 5-HT, is found in the brain and platelets. But more than 90% produced in the intestines and regulates digestion. The gut hormone is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier, i.e. cannot affect the functioning of the brain.

Appetite, normalization of sleep, elation and control of social behavior, increased libido and high concentration – this is not the most comprehensive track record of this neurotransmitter.

Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. Although still unseen, which is primary, a decrease in the neurotransmitter or depressive disorder itself. A popular group of antidepressants – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (for example, Prozac) – prevents 5-HT from returning to the cell and thereby increases its concentration in the spaces between neurons where serotonin is supposed to work.


Attachment hormone. It appears in the hypothalamus and then goes into the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland – a small gland in the center of our brain. From there, oxytocin is delivered to the body in response to pleasant physical contact, romantic feelings or even playing with your favorite dog. This is how the hormone encourages beneficial social connections, teaches us to trust and helps to distinguish “us” from “strangers.”

Apart from childbirth and lactation, people get the real oxytocin fireworks during orgasm. True, the same hormone has a dubious effect on memory. On the one hand, it allows you to forget everything bad and even pain. On the other hand, the rest of the information under the oxytocin storm does not linger in the head either.

It should be noted that the very presence of the hormone does not make a person more empathic and caring. It works after the fact: it positively reinforces a potentially beneficial relationship. That is, first, romance, family or childcare, and then a rewarding dose of oxytocin.


Endogenous (internal) morphine exists to make pain less and pleasure more. This is our own legal drug. Rather, drugs, because there are three types of endorphins: alpha, beta and gamma. They are produced in neurons and the pituitary gland.

If endorphins act in the peripheral nervous system, then they have an analgesic effect. He even strongerthan morphine. If neurotransmitters work in the brain, then they indirectly increase the amount of dopamine, and, therefore, affect life satisfaction.

An endorphin surge occurs when we do some kind of super-effort. For example, we run for a long time. Also endorphins explain the pleasure of laughing and personal communication with friends. And also, perhaps reduce the consequences of depression.

What if something is broken?

Then disease will appear. What exactly it will be depends on the location of the breakdown. For example, diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, ADHD, and autistic disorders are associated, among other things, with the ineffectiveness of neurotransmitters.

What comes first: circumstances or chemistry?

Science is not known for certain. Although hormonal imbalance can sometimes lead to a decline in energy and mood, there is no research showing that the very presence of chemicals makes us happy. Yes, artificially injected hormones affect perception and behavior. On the other hand, it is not the release of oxytocin that materializes loved ones; dopamine doesn’t care whether it’s drugs or a scientific degree, and serotonin is not a panacea for depression.



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