Do you know that the best selling grocery items such as soft drinks, cigarettes, alcohol and coffee are actually mood modifiers? But why do we need them so often? Is there any serious problem with our moods? Or is it too easy to get the mood you want over-the-counter? Or maybe both?
Since ancient times, humans figured out how to make themselves happy when they tried opium for the first time. And it turned out to be too easy: just take it and you will get all of the happiness in the world. But very soon they realized that if they continued to do it, the human race would vanish. This is why they prohibited opium almost everywhere in the world. But lack of opium meant lack of artificial happiness. So they had to look for other ways to get better moods. People were desperate because there was no solution in sight. The solution came unexpectedly.
1951, Seaview Hospital on Staten Island, New York US. Two doctors Irving Selikoff and Edward Robitzek are starting a new clinical trial. It is all about treatment of tuberculosis and it has nothing to do with mood. But when they started the new drug from Hoffman — LaRoche called isoniazid, they noticed something nobody was expected to see and what puzzled all the doctors in the world: patients felt much better not only because their infection became under control, but because of general stimulation. Even though nobody could explain it, in 1952 the psychiatrist from Cincinnati Dr. Max Lurie started giving isoniazid to his mentally ill patients. The treatment was so successful that next year he and Harry Salzer were happy to announce that isoniazid helped about two thirds of their depressed patients. That’s when the term “antidepressant” was invented to describe the action of the isoniazid. After that they went forward pretty fast. In the in the 1987 FDA approved the first antidepressant blockbuster drug, that even now remains to be one of the most often prescribing drugs — Prozac. It generated $12.92B in revenue from 1996-2000 1 and about $2.4B in revenue from Prozac from 2002-2005 2. Its name is in the books and movies — “Prozac nation” for example.
But what does this miracle drug do?
It brings up the amount of Neurotransmitter Serotonin in the brain. But how does it change our moods?
1921, Germany. Pharmacologist Otto Loewi endorses the fact, that brain nerve cells, as well as other nerve cells, are communicating with each other not by electric current, but by chemicals called Neurotransmitters. So by changing the concentration of a certain neurotransmitter, responsible for your mood, they can make you happy. That is what Serotonin does.
But is it only for sick people? What about people like you and me? What about big shots?
November 15, 1995, White House Washington DC. The graying but still very handsome president of the United States is standing in the Oval Office. He is not alone. But he is not with a member of his cabinet or staff, foreign ambassador or CIA officer. In front of him is a young brunette with wide-open eyes and gorgeous curves, that cannot be conceived by her dress, in compromising position. What was he thinking about at that moment? Was he thinking about us, American citizens? Was his thinking about the economy? Or his wife? Maybe he was thinking about the danger he put himself by having a relationship with this woman that can lead to disaster? We will never know. But my guess is: he was thinking about this woman, who was just in front of him and nothing else. What was the reason for him to forget everything in the world except this woman? Was it her gorgeous body? Hard to believe, because the president had beautiful women at his disposal. Jennifer Flowers for example. Have you ever seen her? If you had, you would never forget her. Or maybe it was something else that he didn’t have himself and what he desperately needed? Could it be a neurotransmitter imbalance, that he tried to correct?
Let’s try to recreate the way his brain and that woman’s brain where working, using public beta and common sense. Would it be reasonable to say that the president was a highly motivated and hard-working person, who could concentrate on the main task to achieve his goals? I would say so. What are the neurotransmitters that are responsible for those features?
The Dopamine neurotransmitter is the one that is responsible for motivation, enthusiasm, energy, power and implementation of thoughts. Dopamine type personality is usually dominant, social, highly motivated, and future oriented. They are usually high rank executives. What about people who do not have enough dopamine? They’re usually suffering from fatigue, depression, obesity, editions inability to concentrate because of lack of motivation. They usually need coffee to be able to work. They sleep too much, have minimal sex drive, lack social skills, and often follow others’ orders instead of being creative themselves.
Did the president have plenty of dopamine? Yes, definitely.
The GABA neurotransmitter is the one that is responsible for maintaining concentration and focus to the main task by suppressing all unnecessary stimuli. It’s like when you’re reading a book, besides seeing the text you hear voices, you can smell perfume or food, and you can feel touch. What GABA does is suppress all those unnecessary stimuli and let you concentrate on what you are reading. GABA type personality is very reliable, can concentrate easily, has a stable attention span, good memory, calm personality and is able to relax easily. But what if the person doesn’t have enough GABA? Then it is difficult for them to concentrate. They usually cannot focus, have memory problems, mood swings, frequently lose friends, have anxiety, tension and insomnia.
Did the president have plenty of GABA? It would appear so.
But besides GABA and dopamine there are two more major neurotransmitters. Maybe that’s where the president had a problem?
Forget about the president for a moment and let’s concentrate on that attractive brunette with wide-open eyes and curvy figure. Based on what we all know about her would it be fair to say that she is a romantic and easy-going person, likes to flirt, and likes to have fun? I would say so. But what are the neurotransmitters that are responsible for such features?
The Acetylcholine neurotransmitter is the one that is responsible for memory, learning, information processing and language. Acetylcholine type personality has a very good memory, likes fantasies, likes to flirt, and often contemplates a better future. Because they’re very good in retrieving stored information from their memories, they are very romantic: they bring memories from the past to create their present reality and future. People, who are low in acetylcholine, have poor memory, poor creativity, learning problems, depression, insomnia. They usually are not romantic and cannot take care of others. They’re more concerned with their deficiencies.
Did that brunette in the Oval Office have plenty of acetylcholine? No doubt about that.
Let’s talk about the last neurotransmitter — Serotonin. It is the one that is responsible for happiness and excitement, enthusiasm and joy. Serotonin dominant personality likes challenges, excitement and fun. They like to flirt, experiment with sex and are inclined to have frivolous relationships. They do what they want whenever they want to. It is easy for them to adapt to a new environment but difficult to stick to the plan. They can solve problems spontaneously. When a person does not have enough serotonin, the when problems start: they develop memory problems, insomnia, anxiety, sugar craving, night sweats etc..
To me that brunette had plenty of Serotonin.
Why was the President so attracted to her? Because she had plenty of features from neurotransmitters he may be deficient in. Think about it: he had plenty of Dopamine and GABA but deficient in Acetylcholine and Serotonin. But she had plenty of what he needed to balance himself — Serotonin and Acetylcholine. That is why he was so attracted to her. Could his wife give him serotonin and acetylcholine dependent features? I doubt it.
Bottom line is simple: to be happy and function efficiently you need all four of neurotransmitters — Dopamine, Acetylcholine, GABA and Serotonin. You need to balance your neurotransmitters to achieve your goals. And it can be done. It is not something you that is predetermined by your genes or the way you were brought up. Neurotransmitter balancing is the reality and you can do it.
Opinions here do not reflect the opinion of American Boards of Medical Professions, FDA or other government agencies. This article is not intended to medically advise individuals and should only be used for informational purposes. In addition, this article is not intended to make any health statements. Please consult your primary physician before making any medical decisions.