You have probably heard of the two feel good neurotransmitters – dopamine and serotonin. Here is a little summary of what they do for us.
Dopamine works to give us our drive – our pleasure and reward responses. It is the neurotransmitter of desire (not love as it is often branded – see oxytocin for ‘the love of all things’ vibe) and coordination. Dopamine produces feelings of confidence, giving us focus and the ability to stay attentive to tasks.
Serotonin helps regulate mood, appetite and sleep. Importantly it enables the frontal lobes of the brain to communicate to the emotional centre – the amygdala.
These two neurotransmitters are inextricably linked in their actions and too much or two little of either can lead to aggression, anxiety, moods swings and depression.
I recently read that serotonin modulates dopamine in the neural network more so than the other way round. Knowing this could be a key for our emotional intelligence. Loosely I see serotonin as regulating our emotional life and dopamine for desire. They are the yin and yang of our neurotransmitters.
So to grow our emotional intelligence, we need to keep these neurotransmitters in some sort of balance. The world focusses too much on dopamine. A world of desire and control and blowing things up. A world that is over-stimulated – packing lots of dopamine.
Conversely, serotonin is in the corner and told to shut up and be quiet.