Macademics: The Chemistry of Emotions
Hey guys! This week on Macademics I decided to talk about neurotransmitters and how they affect emotions. The motivation behind this stems from my tattoo as shown up there. It's my "newest" one, only a year old, and I got as a graduation gift for myself. As the saying goes, "Peace, love, and serotonin" - yes I know it's happiness but I'm getting to that.
Let's define a term first before I get into the science. Now keep in mind I am not a neuroscientist by trade so this will be veryyyy basic so I apologize to those that are experts.
Ok, so neurotransmitters are chemical messengers. They are responsible for controlling communication from the brain to the body. In other words they're the boss, they control everything in your body. For this post I'm going to focus on how they affect our moods and talk specifically about dopamine and serotonin.
These two transmitters can be classified as stimulating or calming, respectively - dopamine is special and can be either depending on where it is in the brain and what it binds too. This chemical is mainly responsible for regulating our reward systems and pleasure centers. Healthy levels of dopamine also help keep us focused and for our memories. With low dopamine levels we can lack motivation, have low energy, and can even turn drugs, alcohol, or sex to fill in the gap, but that only works temporarily.
Serotonin on the other hand influences feelings of self-worth and happiness. This is a calming neurotransmitter because it "cools" your central nervous system. It also regulates anxiety, impulse control, and our thinking abilities. This is why I got it as my "happiness" piece for my tattoo. I didn't want a generic smiley face, I wanted something that related to positivity AND happiness and that's what this brain chemical does. An imbalance in serotonin levels is often cited as contributing to depression and poor appetite control.
I wanted to highlight the affects these chemicals have in normal and in low levels because mental health in the black community is something we don't talk about a lot. IT IS A REAL PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESS. It is not just psychological disorders, it's also mood disorders that we need to watch out for. Please please please make sure you all are looking out for yourselves and your loved ones. If you notice something strange like an intense lack of motivation or improper eating that lasts for an extended period of time, say something. Sometimes people don't know how to handle these issues because they think they're just having a few bad weeks. Now you all are equipped with a mini chemical explanation for some issues and you guys can also be there to help others through their own issues. Don't ignore the signs, you never know who needs your help.