Endorphins are our own personal drugs supplied to us by our body, without the addiction part. Opiates (the artificial, addictive drug) are not as effective or safe as endorphins, which provide us with a sense of well-being and pleasure simply by belief and anticipation, called the Placebo Effect.
Opiates are addictive while endorphins are completely non-addictive, due to the fact that endorphins are more easily broken down and digested by our body’s receptors, leading to non-dependence.
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Endorphins are secreted during stress or pain to block out the bad sensations, and are also responsible for pleasurable sensations that we get from eating our favourite food or having sex. Our brain generates emotions from an area called the limbic system, which has a specific region called hypothalamus, responsible for functions like breathing, hunger and emotional response.
Problems with the endorphin binding process result in clinical depression or sudden changes in emotions.
Our endocrine system decides when we eat when we will reach puberty and when we need endorphins and other hormonal secretions from various glands.
Endorphins are triggered by the hypothalamus in our bodies when we are in stress, in pain or are doing:
Endorphins are hormones and neuro-signalling molecules that function as painkillers. They inhibit the transmission of pain signals in the central nervous system by binding to opioid receptors (the body’s natural morphine).
Endorphins & dopamine are often confused because each one is a chemical that makes you happy in the broad sense of the term. However, they are in some ways related because, when endorphins bind to receptors of the central nervous system, dopamine (the pleasure hormone) is released.
Our vast catalogue of hormones produced in the body also includes the ‘energy’ molecule, adrenaline (epinephrine) which when released, creates a surge inside the body which feels exhilarating.
Extreme sports, horror films, roller coasters and sudden accidents (fight or flight situations) trigger this hormone.
There are four main hormones that trigger the feelings of happiness: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins.
Understanding these chemicals and how they work can help you figure out ways to feel better during a stressful time.