Dopamine is what we normally think of as the happiness drug. However, that’s a big misconception. Dopamine is involved more with anticipation than the actual “happiness” feeling (a striving emotion).
Oxytocin is the neurochemical that has allowed us to become social creatures. It makes us feel empathy which helps us feel close and bonded to others when it’s released.
If you’re in a good mood, you’ve got serotonin to thank. And if you’re in a bad mood, you’ve got serotonin to blame. It’s a regulator. Interestingly, 80 percent of serotonin exists in the gut, and is governed by your state of hunger (yes, this is why you’re hungry).
Endorphins are responsible for masking pain or discomfort, which explains their association with the “fight or flight” response. When it comes to designing happiness, endorphins help you “power through.” Sam for example, is an avid runner. Endorphins allow her to push farther and harder as she works towards distance goals.
Together these chemicals create desirable brain states (and keep people coming back for drugs).
Experiences that release the DOSE neurochemicals make us happy, which makes us want more of the same. Does a desire to return to the same experience sound like a desire you probably have? Yes, it certainly does: customer loyalty is doctor’s user experience created with neuroscience in mind keep consumers coming back for more.
Whether those experiences are created to keep clients returning to the doctor/pusher for more drugs, or to keep readers revisiting an internet site for more gaming gratification, this science approach works. It’s the reason gamification is expected to grow by the end of 2020, and the reason you should think, gaming is the new drug.
The Takeaways: There are four primary chemicals in the brain that effect happiness:
dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins
By designing drug experiences that activate these chemicals, anyone can increase their users’ happiness and loyalty.
Serotonin is manufactured with help of an amino acid called tryptophan. This chemical in the brain helps to maintain a feeling of happiness and controls mood swings, sleep and anxiety levels.
Dopamine makes people excited and increases their tendency to talk. It also has a bearing on brain processes which control emotional response, movement and the body’s ability to experience pain and pleasure.
Another chemical in the brain related to happiness is acetylcholine. Apart from enhancing a person’s memory, acetylcholine is related to arousal and sexual performance, as it controls blood flow to a person’s genitals. It is believed, that a happy person has high levels of these. We always have people to claim high level of this, when they are really just normal.
Chemical imbalance in the brain is believed to be the cause for emotional distress and disturbances. There has been a lot of research done, but scientists have not yet been able to come up with the exact cause of chemical imbalances. However, the most potent theory on the same is that chemical imbalance is a result of a person’s own thought and actions.
The chemicals are programmed to process any incoming information and creating a corresponding response. This process takes at an extremely rapid pace.
For example, if a person is in the car and has just, seconds before, almost having an accident, his heart rate would be fast, he would be nervous, and probably even shivering a bit. This happens because even though the person is safe, at the time of the possible accident, the person’s brain would have understood the signals in a precise manner resulting in the perceived fear.
It is true that chemical imbalances lead to undue stress, worry, and nervousness. But it is because of such emotions that people know how to laugh, cry, love, or worry.
Chemical imbalances are an integral part of human nature, which help in interpreting and reacting to different situations, and hence cannot be avoided.