Connection Between Happiness And Brain Health

Connection Between Happiness And Brain Health
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Several ideas come up as to how negative emotions make a weaker body. More number of ideas, on the other hand, come up as to how happiness relates to brain health.

Positivity And Negativity Impact On Brain:

Negativity has always been linked to being weak. The same idea goes for stress and immune system. As chronic stress takes on an individual, his ability to combat infection and diseases is lowered. On the same note, chronic anger and anxiety have been found to relate to cardiac disorders and disruptions on cardiac electrical activity. Anger may even contribute to an increased gastric acid and ulcerations in the stomach when experienced in a prolonged period of time. Stress has also been a contributing factor to the development of several mental disorders to date, with relation to other contributing factors. Creating positive experiences are more likely to create a better outlook in life. In return, this creates a better feel to bodily processes. Recent studies, on the contrary, have also linked the idea of happiness and brain health.

When we are happy or positive, certain chemical released are triggered in the body. Chemicals such as endorphins are released. This is the brain’s pain killer. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is also released every time humans experience happiness. This is the neurochemical responsible for the many cases of depressions and anxiety. Dopamine levels are also affected with such emotion. Dopamine is responsible for the control of movements, emotional response and even pleasure and pain experiences.

Happiness And Brain Health: The Study

In a study conducted by a professor of Child Health and Development, it was drawn that exposure to early childhood stress resulting from violence and neglect at home has been found out to have harmful effects on the brain and other body organs. This included experiences involving neglect, chronic mental disabilities of parents and even sickness in the family. Such effects are imbalances in hormones, higher heart rate and, higher blood pressure. A research involving 6000 men and women in 2007 has found that emotional vitality and general happiness in looking at life has greatly reduced* the risk of coronary heart diseases. The study further relates that optimism, on the long term, reduced* the occurrence of diseases among individuals.

A work of Dr. Richard Davidson in the field of positive psychology has related some of the links on acquiring happiness for a healthier brain. By the use of a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, it was suggested that when people are happy, the left side of the frontal bone is more active. This side is known as the left prefrontal cortex of the brain. This suggests that happiness can be triggered by stimulating the subjected part of the brain.

Several ways are posted on how to achieve happiness for a healthier brain. In 1979, a research study was conducted in nearly 7,000 adults in California. The study reported that participants who had fewer social ties were more likely to die during the ninety year follow up conducted. This effect was emphasized to not having a link towards lifestyle and habits such as alcohol intake and smoking.

A Happier Way to a Healthier Brain

A Happier Way to a Healthier Brain

Exercise and physical activity has been linked to an increase* in physical energy and thus, happiness. It is a method also applied to the management of depression. A certain study was carried on to determining the link of exercise and general well being. Three groups of patients with depression have been participants in the research. Their conditions were treated with medication, exercise, and a combination of the two methods. Although they exhibited the same level of happiness, the follow up proved different. The group who had exercise in their mode of treatment had reported a fewer cases of relapse on 9% only.

See Also: Exercises For Your Healthy Brain

Sleep has also been suggested to increase* happiness. The BPS Research Digest relates a study linking sleep and sensitivity to negative emotions. It concluded that participants who had worked full day without a nap was more likely to be sensitive to feelings of fear and anger than those who had slept.

Being outdoors greatly affects happiness rate. This has been found out by The American Meteorological Society, who published a research concluding that temperature has an effect on happiness than wind speed and humidity. While being happy is said to be stimulated and self-imposed, a study led by the Michigan University relates that customer service workers who fake smiles during their duties are more likely to experience work withdrawal and affect work productivity.

The field of neuroscience proposes that happiness is triggered by the electrochemical responses in the brain. A research study conducted on the 1960s has supported this idea by the presentation of the reward system. When given, a certain region in the brain is stimulated. This part is referred to as nucleus accumbens and links to the feelings of joy, happiness, and euphoria.

Conclusion:

The exact effect of happiness and brain health is yet to be fully grasped. However, it is affirmative that maintaining a more positive outlook in life is necessary to maintain overall health. With the idea that stress and negativity strongly relate to a lowered immune system, it is vital to engage in activities that will trigger happiness and to avoid circumstances that may give negative emotions of anger and fear. It would help being physically active as well as participation on social events. However, trying to change the perspective in which one views circumstances is as vital as engaging in exercise and activity. One cannot rely solely on external factors to change the events occurring internally. With the notion that laughter is the best medicine, happiness may invoke the same principle in keeping a healthier mind.

Reference:

References:

  • http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/happiness-stress-heart-disease/
  • http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-face-adversity/201302/the-role-the-brain-in-happiness
  • http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/neurochemistry-of-happiness.htm
  • http://www.chatelaine.com/health/hardwire-your-brain-for-happiness/

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.