Every feeling that you experience every day is a product of a dance of chemicals that happens in the brain. From that rush of excitement, as you plan a stress-free vacation to when you battle work burnout, every emotion is a result of chemicals called neurotransmitters, fired from a web of nerve cells in a fraction of a second.
And in many cases, the balance (or an imbalance) in these neurotransmitters could determine the state of your mental health.
Neurotransmitters: What are they?
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages as they travel from a nerve cell (neuron) to another cell. They have a wide range of functions, but they mostly regulate:
- Blood pressure and heartbeat
- Sleep and healing
- Stress response
- Emotions and feelings
When it comes to mental health, these neurotransmitters heavily influence your thoughts and mood.
The nance of the chemicals
So how do these chemicals affect your emotions? When a neuron “fires'' neurotransmitters, they move to the next neuron. The neurotransmitters are then received by the receptors on the next cell.
Once attached to a receptor, the neurotransmitter will produce either of two effects: one, it will trigger “go” signals that tell the neuron to pass on specific messages. Or two, it will trigger “stop” signals that prevent the neuron from passing a message on.
In some cases, a neuron receives different neurotransmitters. When this happens, the neurotransmitters compete to get the neuron to do as they bid. Or the neurotransmitters produce a combined effect on the neuron.
It’s a complicated process, which explains why we have such a wide spectrum of moods and emotions.
Types of neurotransmitters
So what are the neurotransmitters that make us feel things? Here are the major chemicals that play a role in the mood you feel at this very moment:
Glutamate causes a neuron to be “excited.” When a neuron is excited, it’s more likely to fire neurotransmitters to the next neuron. Glutamate is essential to memory and learning.
Often called glutamate’s lazy twin, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) does the opposite. It calms the neurons down and inhibits nervous activity.
Serotonin is a simple molecule, but it packs a punch. It has a hand over your mood and sleep. It also affects your appetite and arousal.
Of all neurotransmitters, dopamine is the one that’s closely associated with pleasure and reward. It plays a key role in arousal and appetite.
The primary role of norepinephrine is the body’s stress response. It affects your alertness, focus, and decision-making. It works with adrenaline to produce that “fight-or-flight” feeling.
Effect on mental health
As mentioned earlier, imbalances in these neurotransmitters can disrupt your mental health. Here are some examples:
- Glutamate - Imbalances in the glutamate levels in the brain are associated with diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- GABA - Imbalances in GABA levels are linked to problems in sleep, anxiety, irritability, and concentration.
- Serotonin - An imbalance in the serotonin levels is associated with depression, anxiety, and even chronic pain.
- Norepinephrine - An imbalance in the norepinephrine levels is linked to ADHD, depression, and hypotension (low blood pressure).
Does our mental health depend on brain chemicals?
Although much of our mental health relies on this delicate balance of chemicals, there are many ways we could support our mental well-being. This includes:
A Healthy Diet
Nutrition provides the body with the building blocks needed to produce and transmit neurotransmitters. As a result, a healthy diet will help your mental well-being. In addition, some bacteria in the intestines can produce neurotransmitters. As such, your gut health can help maintain the chemical balance, too.
Everybody needs a healthy amount of stress. However, chronic stress will manifest as health problems and disrupt the neurochemicals. So set aside time to decompress and relax by:
- Trying meditation
- Scheduling enough rest
- Incorporating Verma Farms CBD oil into your sleeping routine
- Learning breathing exercises
While your mental well-being is largely influenced by your brain chemistry, remember that there are many things you can do to help maintain that chemical balance. From eating healthy food to getting enough rest, these healthy habits can lead to a healthy state of mind.