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Hormones and Emotions

One of the parameters or signs of life is response to external stimuli, others include breathing, circulation, digestion, reproduction, etc. In our body we have two types of responses: nervous reflex and hormonal reaction.

by Dr. Mosaraf Ali

Hormones are powerful organic secretions that work on multiple organs and systems at the same time. Thus if the body needs to increase heart rate, breathing, sweating, muscle tension, or mental alertness simultaneously, it will secrete a miniscule amount of adrenalin which will be carried by the blood to those target organs. It's a more efficient and economic way of creating multiple responses.

Now these hormones are organic chemicals so once in the blood they have to be utilised fully or must disintegrate on their own, at their own rate (known as "half-life," time taken for half of the chemical to be deactivated). The longer they stay in the blood, the more prolonged the responses are.

Hormones also act on specific nerve centres in the brain that produce emotions and corresponding physiological symptoms. Emotions are a bouquet of symptoms (known as syndromes). Each type of emotion is expressed by a set feelings and bodily reactions. They say there are seven types of emotions like seven colours, sounds, tastes, seas, and wonders of the world.

The seven emotions are as follows:

Rage: racing heart, flushed face, high-pitched voice, dilated veins in the skull, bulging eyes, sweating, tensed voluntary muscles, distorted mimicry muscles (raised eyebrows, flashing teeth, tightened jaw), etc. All this is due to raised cortisol or adrenaline-like (main fight/flight hormone in the body) levels in blood, working on the "rage centre" in the Limbic System (subconscious) of the brain. This hormone has a short half-life so if more are not secreted, the body calms down quickly. If irritation prevails, the rage is prolonged.

Fear: spasm of blood vessels, pale face, cold hands and feet, constricted eyelids, shallow breathing, cold sweat, irratic heartbeat, tendency to shun light. No one knows what hormone triggers the "fear centre." It's long lasting with longer half-life.

Grief: slow heart rate, atonic mimicry muscles, tears, loss of appetite, frequent sighing, feeble voice, insomnia, poor motivation, sluggishness and other symptoms of depression. I suppose it's serotonin or its derivatives that cause this.

Passion/Lust: racing heart, extreme pleasure, unstoppable desire, hypersensitivity of the sensory organs (touch, smell, heat, vision, pressure, hearing, taste), easy sexual arousal and copulation with organism (highly complex physical and emotional reaction), enhanced creativity (with words, songs, art, etc.). The corresponding hormone probably originates in the pituitary. The sexual drive centre has been mapped and is located above the pituitary gland.

Happiness/Pleasure: great sense of well-being, "happy face," increased energy, relaxed muscles, normal heartbeat, increased tolerance, good sleep, pleasant temperament, etc. These hormones must be sympathetic in nature, but are slower/less aggressive than adrenaline.

Jealousy/Vendetta: a nerve-wrecking chronic emotion with insomnia, persistent thoughts, desire to harm, constant conflict in the mind, tensed muscles, very tight jaw and temple muscles as if "wanting to bite," irrational behaviour. The hormone that causes these reactions have long half-life so, once secreted, they take a long time to disseminate. It probably originates adrenal glands because of its aggressive nature.

Anxiety/Stress: hightened state of alertness, tensed muscles, insomnia, increased pulse rate, lack of concentration, extreme mood swings, irritable, short term memory loss, high pitched voice, change of appetite, etc. This is a chronic condition which frequently leads to exhaustion, weak immune system and can cause diseases like blood pressure, period disturbances, auto-immune disease, loss of libido, and cancer.

Here it is obvious that cortisol or adrenaline is the hormone that causes all this. Anxiety has long and short-term negative effects on the body and so scientists have done a lot of work to study it. It seems the body gets conditioned to the stress and the hormones may not be stimulated in large amounts. If that were so, the adrenal glands would be exhausted and fail permanently .

Stress management is very important to maintain a balanced life and to prevent most common ailments. Stress basically uses up the body's reserve energy and so the various organs fail to function normally. Some organs like the heart and brain etc suffer due to overuse and malfunction.

Emotional centres are mapped by scientists and the are located in the subconscious brain but analysed and "felt" in the frontal lobe of the brain. Some 60 years ago lobotomy (surgical removal of the front part of the brain) was used to treat patients with severe mental illnesses. They simply stopped "thinking" and "feeling emotions." It was an inhuman treatment as such patients became like animals.

Meditation, prayers, music, biofeedback, chanting, and relaxation, etc., raise your threshold for response to stress. They also directly effect the emotional centres

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