Pleasure vs Happiness or Dopamine vs Serotonin

All too often as a society we get caught up confusing the difference between acting for pleasure and acting for long-term happiness. Chemically speaking, both make us feel good and we do enjoy the moment, but one can have a detrimental effect on our health while the other can enhance it. 

Dopamine is a chemical messenger that is released by the brain. It’s involved in reward, motivation, memory, attention and even regulating body movements. When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which motivates you to repeat specific behaviors. The issue here is that if you continually chase Dopamine in large quantities, you can find yourself repeating detrimental behaviors (think addiction to alcohol, drugs, sugar etc)

Serotonin on the other hand is largely (up to 95%) produced in the stomach wall linings and its production is highly dependant upon diet, Vitamin D levels and stomach/gut health. Serotonin can be related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behaviours. Multiple studies have shown low Serotonin levels have been linked to depression. 

Without any one of these above 3 areas, we find ourselves out of touch with society, often experiencing symptoms such as anxiety and poor moods. Research has shown time and time again that your physical health has a huge impact upon your mental health. Some studies have even suggested that up to 80% of anxiety cases can be helped by proper nutrition and exercise, specifically when targeting gut health.