What Are Neurotransmitters?
Our mental health largely depends on how well the chemicals and the neurotransmitters in our brain are functioning, so let’s gain a better understanding of what they are or do.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in the brain which are responsible for communicating information all throughout our body. They transmit information by relaying signals via nerve cells that are called “neurons”.
For example our brain uses neurotransmitters in order to relay signals to our heart, telling it to beat.
It is also those neurotransmitters that relay a message to our lungs for them to breathe and for our stomach to digest our food. Our mood, weight, sleep and concentration are also largely influenced by neurotransmitters.
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If our neurotransmitters get out of balance they can cause a lot of problems. Many factors in our lifestyle can affect our levels, including an unhealthy diet, (you can eat foods that help your levels), stress, genetic predisposition, medications, alcoholic beverages and caffeine.
Inhibitory and Excitatory Neurotransmitters
- Inhibitory neurotransmitters are responsible for calming our brain and help it to achieve balance.
- Excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate our brain…make it excited.
Dopamine and serotonin are two types of neurotransmitters you may have heard of before.
Examples of Inhibitory Neurotransmitters
Serotonin is one example of inhibitory neurotransmitters. Serotonin is necessary for stabilizing our mood and for balancing the number of excitatory neurotransmitters being fired into our brain. However, as I have explained many times, frequent intake of stimulant drugs or caffeine may lead to the depletion of your serotonin levels.
- GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid)
GABA is sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s valium-like neurotransmitter’ and with the right levels of GABA, it works towards balancing the excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain.
Examples of Excitatory Neurotransmitters
Dopamine is the ‘feel-good’ chemical that can function both as an inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitter. If your dopamine levels are balanced, your body can reduce your symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress.
If at elevated levels, norepinephrine may lead to different symptoms of anxiety, lack of focus, fatigue and sleeping problems.
People who exhibit ADHD symptoms are said to have elevated levels of epinephrine in their body. This neurotransmitter also plays a crucial role in regulating our blood pressure and heart rate.
All these terms are hard to understand, but I was asked what neurotransmitters were and if I could explain it a little more simply. I hope this summary has made it easier. The bottom line is as I say in nearly all my articles is to keep your body balanced and your serotonin and dopamine levels in a balanced state. To do that you start by eating a healthy diet, exercise regularly, sleep well and supplement your body if you are lacking in vital minerals and vitamins.
It isn’t too difficult to set a healthy lifestyle plan and to keep anxiety and stress levels at bay.