Each day we experience millions of emotions and go through many expected and unexpected situations. It is fascinating how our brain deals with all the experiences and how brain responds in different situations. It filters the important information, helps us understand the gravity of a situation and respond to it. When we are confronted with an uncertain, changeable or new situation, our brain, after a moment’s reflection, will opt for one course of action over another. A lot is going on inside our head, and our brain and its complex processes are even manipulating our emotions.
In other words, there’s way more behind that angry feeling than the car that just cut us off. Much is involved in interpreting emotional circumstances and crafting our responses to them, and our brain is affecting how we feel and how we respond to those feelings in ways we’re probably not even aware of. The main part of the brain responsible for processing emotions, the limbic system, is sometimes called the “emotional brain”.
Role of left brain and right brain
Scientists have actually seen firsthand what happens when the system of emotional balance provided by the brain’s hemispheres breaks down. They’ve found that people who have had brain damage in the left hemisphere of the brain are at a higher risk for suicide because they’re overwhelmed with negativity, while people who have had damage to the right hemisphere can be overly optimistic because they have trouble identifying negative emotions.
Brain Chemicals Dictate Your Mood
- Dopamine is related to experiences of pleasure and the reward-learning process. In other words, when you do something good, you’re rewarded with dopamine and gain a pleasurable, happy feeling. This teaches your brain to want to do it again and again. The part of the brain stretching from the ventral segmental area in the middle of the brain to the nucleus accumbens at the front of the brain, for example, has a huge concentration of dopamine receptors that make you feel pleasure.
- Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with memory and learning. Researchers believe it plays a part in the regeneration of brain cells, which has been linked to easing depression. An imbalance in serotonin levels results in an increase in anger, anxiety, depression and panic.
- Norepinephrine helps moderate your mood by controlling stress and anxiety.
What happens to our brain when we are happy or sad:-
- Positive affect is a term encompassing various components, including happiness, contentment, life satisfaction, optimism, and well-being. It appears that happy, healthy people have the same habits. Happy people, as compared with less happy people, tend to have greater immune system function, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and report greater marriage and job satisfaction. It is therefore valuable to develop a deeper understanding of the positive affect by investigating its biological basis.
- Depressed individuals have a lower concentration of prolactin. Most people associate prolactin with enabling women to produce milk, however, it is influential over a large number of functions. Prolactin plays an essential role in metabolism, regulation of the immune system, and pancreatic development. As prolactin response increases, so do the positive effects associated with happiness, and this correlates with cognition and neural connectivity affecting our ability to perceive, remember, and reinforce existing neural connections.
What happens to our brain when we are stressed:-
- To protect the brain from stress, it releases a protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a Neurotrophin which translates activity into synaptic and cognitive plasticity in the adult animal. This BDNF has a protective and also a reparative element to memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and see things so clearly after moments of stress.
- Endorphins are chemicals that are able to cross through the gaps between neurons in order to pass along a message from one to the next. Endorphins act as both a painkiller and as the pay-off for your body’s reward system. When you hurt yourself, you may receive a big dose of endorphins to ease that pain.
- At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released from the brain. The main purpose of endorphins is to minimize discomfort and block the feeling of pain by stimulating pleasure centers, many of which even lead to euphoria.
- The hypothalamus is in charge of regulating how you respond to emotions. When excitement or fear causes your heart to beat faster, your blood pressure to rise and your breathing to quicken, it’s the hypothalamus doing its job. The hippocampus turns your short-term memory into long-term memory and also helps you retrieve stored memory. Your memories inform how you respond to the world around you, including what your emotional responses are.
What happens to our brain when we are anxious:-
Anxiety is a by-product of intricate brain activity, and these medications seek to rebalance associated brain chemicals. Promisingly, natural treatment in the forms of meditation, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and even regimentation of nutritional and exercise habits have shown tremendous promise.