The human nervous system is a complicated and delicate system of communication, with the brain at the helm of control. The brain itself depends on chemicals known as neurotransmitters to function properly. When there is too much or too little of one or more chemicals on a prolonged basis, this can affect a person’s mental health.
Which Chemicals Are Involved with Brain Chemistry and Mental Health?
Happiness, sadness, excitement, euphoria, and even fear are emotions that are triggered and maintained by chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the brain’s way of communicating with the body’s nerve cells. When there isn’t enough or there is too much of one kind of neurotransmitter present, it can lead to what are called ‘bad nerves’.
The chief neurotransmitters produced by the brain are:
- Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that is associated with the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. High amounts of dopamine lead to feelings of pleasure or euphoria.
- Serotonin is the chemical associated with rest and sleep. However, it’s also associated with your moods, sexual arousal and even hunger.
- Glutamate is associated with learning, memory and feelings of excitement.
- Norepinephrine acts as both a neurotransmitter as well as a hormone. Norepinephrine is a stress-responsive chemical that creates the “fight or flight” response when we are feeling stressed out. Low levels of it can cause ADHD and depression.
How Are Chemical Imbalances in the Brain Corrected?
Antidepressant medications help millions of Americans fight depression by correcting the chemical imbalances in their brains to some degree. However, these medications don’t work for some people, and they don’t for many of our patients either. Sometimes the chemical imbalance might not be severe enough to necessitate prescription medication.
That’s why we might suggest other ways of correcting this chemical imbalance. Exercise can have a profound effect on dopamine levels in the brain when they are performed on a regular basis. The pleasure and reward centers of the brain are stimulated from strenuous exercise, and the effects can be amazing for mental health.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to expedite the brain’s use of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. When levels of these two chemicals are increased, feelings of depression and fatigue begin to lessen.
Let us help you find the right solutions for preserving your mental health. At Southside Medical Center we offer individual and group therapy, family and couples counseling, psychiatric assessment, and medication management among other things. We are conveniently located in Atlanta, GA. Contact us today to schedule your appointment! Our staff is here to help.