Who are the Happy Hormones

Have you ever heard of the happy hormones or wish you had more of them?

The way we feel things largely depends on messages sent around your body to and from the brain by chemicals called neurotransmitters. 

Let me explain.

Imagine we are writing a story.

Our central characters, the good guys, are four messengers of happiness. Their names are Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphins and their job is to bring us happiness, joy, love and bliss.  

Who are the Happy Hormones

We also have other nefarious characters, whose names I won’t go into right now. Their job is to also run messages back and forth. Messages they observe from inside and outside the kingdom.

It is the job of these messengers to sound the alarms (fear), alert the queen (our mind), run back to rally the army (physical responses) and respond to threats (freeze, fight or flight) both real and perceived.

To any reader of our story, it may appear some of these messengers stir drama and intrigue when there is no threat at all. But our poor queen listens and reacts because these are her trusted messengers and spies. Without whom she would be surely lost.

In order of importance, our good guys, the happy hormones come a poor second. They have to wait. Until it is quite safe for them to speak. If any try, they are oppressed and kept quiet while the alarm bells ring.

Even if this means locking them up and tossing away the key. 

Without the happy hormones providing balance and harmony. The kingdom quickly plunges into chaos. Our poor queen and her resources become depleted. How fast she falters depends on how long she has been under siege.

Her kingdom and its inhabitants suffering fatigue become worn-out and run-down. Sickness and misery set in. Recovery is hard but possible and in time balance and harmony reign once more and the queen and her kingdom prevail.

Who are the Happy Hormones

Harsh though it may seem, this system worked exceptionally well in ancient times. It meant your reading this blog today was more than just miraculous chance.

For example, when an invading horde of Vikings came roaring over the hill, her forewarned and quick-thinking response meant our ancestral queen had prepared well and she, along with her line of descendants, was safe.

Nowadays, just the same as in ancient times. If we are faced with a real threat, our ability to act fast and keep us safe is a phenomenal gift to possess. 

The trouble we face today is the world has changed so fast.

With inventions, pollution, changes to diet, antibiotics, technology to name a few; our beautiful fast responding messengers struggle to interpret this new world. Leaving many of us in a permanent or overexaggerated state of anxiety and fear. 

It is not only our guardian alarm-sounding messengers that struggle either. Our happy hormones, the fab four, have their own challenges in navigating this new world too.

Oxytocin, once upon a time she just had to gaze for three minutes into the eyes of another before falling madly and deeply in love. Now, she has to swipe left and make do.

Dopamine once explored nature, devouring fresh organic wholesome berries on a bush – now she is fooled into thinking she has been rewarded with Netflix and a tub of Ben & Jerrys.

Who are the Happy Hormones

Endorphins, she used to run wild and free, exercising and laughing out loud with friends. Now, she connects and LOL with strangers in online games and chat threads. Her purpose of dampening pain and creating euphoria now controlled at the touch of a gaming mouse.

Serotonin, once the life and soul of the party is now alone in the crowd, posing for her sexy, smiling and filtered selfie. It is a similar enough message, she guesses, for her true purpose of social harmony, sexual desire and balancing mood. But, however she spins it – it never does feel quite the same as she thought it would be.

Who are the Happy Hormones

Next week I’ll take a deeper dive into Serotonin, what she does, how to look after her and how to motivate her. Sign up to my newsletter and the post will fly to your inbox.

Darcey Croft is a specialist perinatal midwife for Buckinghamshire HealthCare Trust. To receive more posts about improving perinatal mental health sign up below.

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