Are you feeling low? Get your daily dose of happy hormones

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers and are vital in regulating many mechanisms and pathways in the body.

First we will identify the hormones associated with mood and pain, and an overview of how these hormones work will be discussed. Following is a guide on how to tell if you are deficient in it and how to restore these hormone levels naturally.

How hormones work

Hormones are essentially the body’s way of communicating and regulating changes. Hormones are released in response to changes in the body to coordinate various bodily functions.

Over 50 different hormones have been identified in the human body, and they all interact and work together to do many things.

There are two types of glands: endocrine (which release hormones directly into the bloodstream) and exocrine (which release products through a duct system).

Like a lock and key, when a hormone only binds to its target receptor, the receptor is doing its job, i.e. adrenaline secretions increase adrenaline levels and trigger the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response.

Image credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

Endocrine system

The endocrine system is vital for maintaining homeostasis (regulation) of your body systems such as metabolism, energy, and growth, just to name a few.

More than 50 endocrine hormones have been identified in the human body and seven major endocrine glands with which they are associated.

These glands are:

  • Pineal gland
  • Hypothalamus
  • Pituitary
  • Thyroid
  • thymus
  • Pancreas
  • Adrenal

In addition, the testes and ovaries are involved in this system.

Labeled diagram of endocrine glands
Image credit: Commons Wikimedia

In addition, if you are interested, here is a small summary of some of the glands of the endocrine system, hormones and their actions.

Exocrine system

The exocrine system is also essential for maintaining homeostasis in the body. However, this system does not release as many hormones as it secretes substances through channels throughout the body.

For example, sweat is secreted onto the skin to regulate body temperature and digestive enzymes are released to aid digestion. The glands involved are located in the stomach, pancreas, and intestines.

These glands include:

  • Sweat
  • tear
  • Saliva
  • chest
  • Digestion

Now that we’ve covered the basics of hormone systems, let’s focus on the ‘DOSE’ or ‘happy’ hormones, i.e. the hormones involved in and influencing mood and emotions.

The DOSE hormones

These consist of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins and are part of the endocrine system.

Dopamine

First, this hormone facilitates motivation, learning, and pleasure, and plays a role in achieving goals and desires.

Image credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

A dopamine deficiency can present itself in many ways, such as:

  • procrastination
  • Negative self image
  • little energy
  • lack of motivation
  • inability to focus
  • mood swings

Try the following to trigger the release of dopamine:

  • meditation
  • create to-do lists
  • focus on long term goals
  • eat foods rich in L-tyrosine, such as turkey, soy, oats, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds
  • exercise regularly
  • be creative

Oxytocin

Second, this hormone is responsible for feelings of closeness, love and belonging.

Image credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

As a result, a deficiency of this hormone can manifest itself in the following ways:

  • loneliness
  • stress and anxiety
  • lack of motivation
  • little energy
  • feeling cut off from others
  • insomnia

Try the following to trick your body into releasing oxytocin:

  • physical touch
  • socialize
  • massage
  • acupuncture
  • listen to music

serotonin

Third, this hormone is associated with feeling successful and accomplished, and is related to feeling important and satisfied with yourself.

Image credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

Consequently, a deficiency of this hormone can present itself in the following ways:

  • Negative self image
  • being sensitive
  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • social anxiety
  • mood swings
  • obsessive or compulsive behavior
  • insomnia

So, to induce serotonin release, try these:

  • to go outside
  • excercise
  • massage
  • take a cold shower

Endorphins

Finally, endorphins provide a short-lived euphoria that aids in pain relief and relieves feelings of anxiety and depression.

Image credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

A deficiency of this hormone can cause the following:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mood swings
  • aches and pains
  • insomnia
  • impulsive behavior

Try the following to trick your body into releasing more endorphins:

  • smiling
  • to cry
  • get creative
  • eat dark chocolate
  • spicy food
  • exercise or stretch
  • massage
  • meditation

In addition, to trigger the release of all these hormones, try the following:

  • excercise
  • meditation
  • cold showers

These help regulate your emotions and the cold shower can reset your system.

Final remarks and further information

Read my articles on stress hormones – the biology and psychology and the stress hormone in relation to nutrition. These can help you understand what happens to your mind and body when you’re stressed, and give you tips for relieving stress symptoms.

It is important to note that this article is by no means a diagnosis; if you are struggling with any of the points mentioned, please contact your GP or one of the helplines below:

You can also turn to services within the university to help you with your feelings and struggles.

  • Student services
  • Mental healthcare
  • Apply for guidance through the university
  • All together

More information about the above university services can be found here.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any of the contacts above; you and how you feel are important, you are heard and you are not alone.

Featured image credits: Pexels

Concert by the Stirling Choir


Final year student of Biology & Psychology with a great interest in music, food and lifestyle.


Are you feeling low? Get your daily dose of happy hormones

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