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Feeling Low? Get Your Daily Dose of Happy Hormones

7 mins read

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

First, we will identify the hormones associated with mood and pain, and an overview of how these hormones work will be discussed. After this, there is a guide on how you can tell whether you are deficient in them and how to get these hormone levels back up naturally.

How Hormones Work

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

There have been over 50 different hormones identified in the human body, and these 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 releases products through a duct system).

Just like a lock and key, when a hormone only binds to its target receptor, the receptor carries out its task, i.e. adrenaline secretions increase adrenaline levels and cause 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 bodily systems, such as metabolism, energy and growth, just to name a few.

There have been over 50 endocrine hormones identified in the human body and seven main endocrine glands with which they are associated.

These glands are:

  • Pineal
  • Hypothalamus
  • Pituitary
  • Thyroid
  • Thymus
  • Pancreas
  • Adrenal

Additionally, the testes and ovaries are involved in this system.

Labelled diagram of endocrine glands
Image Credit: Commons Wikimedia

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

Exocrine system

The exocrine system is also essential in maintaining homeostasis within the body. However, this system does not release hormones as much as it does excrete substances through ducts throughout the body.

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

These glands include:

  • Sweat
  • Lacrimal
  • Salivary
  • Mammary
  • Digestive

Now, with the basics of hormone systems covered, we will focus on the ‘DOSE’ or ‘happy’ hormones, i.e. the hormones that are involved with and affect mood and emotions.

The DOSE Hormones

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

Dopamine

Firstly, this hormone enables motivation, learning and pleasure and plays a role in the accomplishment of goals and desires.

Image Credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

Deficiency in dopamine can present itself in many ways, such as:

  • procrastination
  • low self-esteem
  • low energy
  • lack of motivation
  • inability to focus
  • mood swings

To trigger the release of dopamine, try the following:

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

Oxytocin

Secondly, this hormone is responsible for feelings of closeness, love and bonding.

Image Credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

As a result, a deficiency in this hormone can manifest in these ways:

  • loneliness
  • stress and anxiety
  • lack of motivation
  • low energy
  • feeling disconnected from others
  • insomnia

To trick your body into releasing oxytocin, try the following:

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

Serotonin

Thirdly, this hormone is associated with feeling successful and accomplished, and is related to feeling important and being content with yourself.

Image Credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

Consequently, being deficient in this hormone can present itself in these ways:

  • low self-esteem
  • being sensitive
  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • social anxiety
  • mood swings
  • obsessive or compulsive behaviours
  • insomnia

So, to induce serotonin release, try these:

  • go outside
  • exercise
  • massage
  • take a cold shower

Endorphins

Finally, endorphins result in a short-term euphoria that helps with pain relief, and relieves feelings of anxiety and depression.

Image Credit: Samantha McBride on Canva

A deficiency in this hormone can result in the following:

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

To trick your body into releasing more endorphins, try the following:

  • laughing
  • crying
  • getting creative
  • eating dark chocolate
  • eating spicy food
  • exercise or stretches
  • massage
  • meditation

Additionally, to trigger the release of all of these hormones, you can try the following:

  • exercise
  • meditation
  • cold showers

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

Final notes and further information

Read my articles on stress hormones – the biology and psychology and the stress hormone concerning food. These can help you understand what is happening with your body and mind when stressed, and gives you tips to alleviate stress symptoms.

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

Additionally, within the university, you can contact services to assist you with your feelings and struggles.

  • Student services
  • Mental health services
  • Apply for counselling through the university
  • Togetherall

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

Do not hesitate to contact any of the contacts above; you and how you feel are important, you will be heard, and you are not alone.

Featured Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

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

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