The 5 happy hormones are dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin, and testosterone. Each one of these hormones plays an important role in making us feel happy.
Dopamine is known as the “reward hormone” because it is released when we experience something pleasurable. It is also responsible for helping us focus and stay motivated. Oxytocin, sometimes called the “cuddle hormone,” is released when we hug or kiss someone we care about. It helps us feel bonded to others and can even reduce stress levels. Endorphins are our body’s natural painkillers; they are released during exercise or when we experience something funny or exciting. Serotonin is often referred to as the “happiness hormone” because it helps regulate our mood and makes us feel calm and relaxed. Finally, testosterone is a male sex hormone that has been linked with increased energy levels and confidence (two things that can definitely make you happy!).
The brain releases dopamine during pleasurable activities such as eating, sex, and drug use. This release increases feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. When these activities are done in excess, however, they can lead to addiction.
Dopamine is also involved in motivation; low levels of dopamine are associated with depression and apathy. For this reason, drugs that increase dopamine levels (such as amphetamines) are often used as treatments for conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy.
Serotonin is produced in the brain and gut. It is derived from the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is also found in some foods, such as chocolate and oysters.
The majority of serotonin (about 80%) is located in the gut, where it regulates gastrointestinal functions such as digestion and bowel movements. The remainder is found in the brain where it regulates mood, sleep, and appetite.
Serotonin has many different functions in the body including:
Regulating Mood: Serotonin plays a role in our mood by helping to regulate our sleep patterns and appetite. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression and anxiety disorders. In fact, antidepressants work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Sleep: Seratonin helps us fall asleep by promoting slow-wave sleep (SWS). SWS is a deep stage of sleep that allows our bodies to recover from the day’s activities. Appetite: Seratonin helps regulate our appetite by sending signals to the hypothalamus – an area of the brain responsible for controlling hunger cues.
Progesterone levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, with levels peaking during ovulation and declining during menstruation. During pregnancy, progesterone levels rise sharply, helping to maintain the pregnancy. If a woman has a low level of progesterone, she may have difficulty getting pregnant or may miscarry.
Progesterone has several other roles in addition to regulating fertility. It helps to thicken the lining of the uterus, making it more receptive to implantation of a fertilized egg. Progesterone also relaxes smooth muscle tissue, which can help prevent premature labor. In addition, progesterone aids in breast development and prevents milk production before childbirth.