“Dopamine is my secret weapon and achilles heel. I’m the most sensitive to its changes, and mine fluctuates more than others. Too low, and nothing matters. I don’t want to socialize, work, or be positive. Too high, and I seek out addictions, work way too much, and become anxious.
I do everything I can to keep my dopamine in check, and it doesn’t always succeed. But when you arm yourself with the knowledge below, you’re in a massively stronger position to stay healthier than before.” – Jordan Arbuckle
NEUROCHEMICALS FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Neurochemicals are a part of your brain that can modify your mood and behaviors. They are influenced by thoughts, actions, physical ailments, addictions, and experiences.
High or low activity in your brain involving specific neurochemicals can result in depression, anxiety, mania, lethargy, pleasure-seeking behaviors, and other mood changes.
Understanding your neurochemistry and the basic ways to alter it will help you remain positive and balanced. Here are the most commonly discussed neurochemicals when it comes to mental health.
Dopamine effects our motivation, mood, creativity, and focus.
Balanced dopamine results in a positive outlook, confidence, productivity, and extraversion.
Low dopamine results in depression, anxiety, poor sleep, feelings of hopelessness, decreased sex drive, and brain fog.
High dopamine also results anxiety and poor sleep, along with addictions, irritability, risky behavior, and poor impulse control.
A consistently healthy lifestyle is the best way to balance your dopamine.
This includes a natural diet ( specifically almonds, avocados, bananas, meats, and eggs), avoiding sugar and caffeine, spending time outdoors, 7-9 hours of sleep, meditation, exercising, listening to music, and socially competitive activities.
Serotonin effects our mood, consistency, memory, digestion, bone health, sleep, and sex drive.
Balanced serotonin results in less anxiety, a sense of well-being, faster healing of wounds, and better sleep patterns.
Low serotonin results in additional anxiety, memory issues, difficulty being still, sexual disfunction, and disrupted sleep.
High serotonin results in restlessness, high blood pressure, nausea, and much more serious symptoms in drug-induced cases of “serotonin syndrome.”
Managing your stress and eating certain foods are the best ways to balance your serotonin.
These foods include salmon, eggs, nuts, seeds, turkey, tofu, soy, and pineapple.
Reduce stress in your life wherever possible.
Recreational drugs can be extremely damaging to your serotonin levels both immediately and over time.
Oxytocin is a hormone that effects our sociability, connection, attraction levels, caretaking, and aspects of reproduction.
The results from various levels of oxytocin are still being researched and disputed. But balanced oxytocin likely results in lower anxiety, increased trust, affection, empathy, and happiness.
In women, oxytocin also assists with childbirth, breastfeeding, and bonding. In men, oxytocin improves the ability to identity competitive relationships and manage the flight or fight response.
Consistent social connections and physical touch are the best ways to balance your oxytocin.
This can include meaningful conversations, positive interactions, caring for others, handshakes, platonic hugging, sex, meditation, and owning a pet.
There are many other neurochemicals that also effect your mental health. But almost all of them can be properly regulated by following the fundamental mental health skills.
Prescription medications can influence your levels of neurochemistry. If you are interested in medication, find a doctor you trust, take as prescribed, monitor your changes, and commit to 6-12 months of testing to make sure you’ve found the right fit.
BRAINSTORM AND ANSWER THE FOLLOWING:
After reading the effects of specific neurochemicals, which one do you feel you struggle with the most?
What is the easiest way for you to improve that deficiency based on the list of solutions above?
How can you turn that into an action step you can complete today? Write it down, and use it for the next challenge.
INFLUENCE YOUR NEUROCHEMISTRY
You may have chosen to exercise, eat something healthy, call a friend, or take a nap. Even though you may not feel it, you made a physiological change that will stack on top of each previous improvement.