Is Your Brain Chemistry Making You Happy, Sad, Mad, or Anxious?


[Excerpted from You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type by Daniel G. Amen, MD]

You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and brain health expert Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, he reveals how to discover your brain type and tailor happiness strategies best suited to your brain type. This book also shows how to improve your overall brain health to consistently enhance your mood, protect your happiness by distancing yourself from the “noise” in your head, and make 7 simple decisions and ask 7 daily questions to boost your happiness.

In addition to the brain systems that play crucial roles in happiness, there are important neurochemicals that influence your level of joy because they are involved in mood, motivation, and learning, and that’s the short list. Neurotransmitters are the molecules used by the nervous system to transmit messages between neurons or from neurons to target cells in muscles, glands, or other nerves. Since these chemical messengers communicate information between the brain and our bodies, they are incredibly important to good health. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that stimulate or inhibit nearby cells.

In addition to the brain systems that play crucial roles in happiness, there are important neurochemicals that influence your level of joy because they are involved in mood, motivation, and learning. Click To Tweet

In terms of happiness, I want to focus on 7 neurotransmitters. Some of these neurochemicals play a more critical role in certain brain types.



The Molecule of More—This unique transmitter helps with focus and staying on task while supporting the brain’s ability to remember things. This brain chemical helps you remember significant moments, whether good or bad, and is involved with anticipation, pleasure, and love. I liken dopamine to a “chemical of more” because you always want more of it since this is the principal neurotransmitter that makes you feel good.


The Molecule of Respect—This brain chemical is involved with mood, sleep, and flexibility, and it helps you to be open and adaptable to change. Serotonin increases when you feel respect from your peers and decreases when your feelings get hurt.


The Molecule of Trust—Whereas dopamine is the “chemical of more,” oxytocin can be called the “chemical of love” for the way it enhances bonding and trusting relationships. This powerful neurotransmitter has a reputation for playing Cupid because it’s released when you snuggle up, have sex, or socially bond with friends. But some researchers believe oxytocin also leads to feelings of jealousy and suspicion, especially toward those outside our social circles.


The Molecule of Pain Relief—Almost everyone has heard about these neurotransmitters. These “feel good” brain chemicals released by your body during a workout or physical exertion cause your immune cells to flood the cardiovascular system, which protects your body against illness and lifts your mood.


The Molecule of Calmness—GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is the brain’s chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA’s primary role is to reduce brain cell excitability and slow down the firing of neurons. It helps balance more stimulating neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and adrenaline. Too much stimulation can cause anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, while too little nerve cell firing can cause lethargy, confusion, and sedation. It is all about balance.


The Molecule of Peace—These molecules play a role in regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. Excessive endocannabinoid activity contributes to overeating and obesity, while low activity is a risk factor for developing depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, inflammation, and immune system problems. Marijuana and hemp contain more than 100 naturally occurring cannabinoids that, when absorbed, interact with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors to produce a response. The best known are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While they have a similar chemical makeup, THC and CBD interact with cannabinoid receptors completely differently. THC is the cannabinoid people associate with marijuana. It directly stimulates endocannabinoid receptors to cause intoxicating effects. CBD does not cause a high because it works indirectly.


The Molecule of Danger—This hormone gets a bad rap. It’s critical for your survival and has important benefits, but it’s also a hormone that you want less of—not more of— because, when cortisol production gets out of control, it drains your happiness. Why is that? Cortisol is the body’s “stress hormone,” and chronically high levels are linked to depression, anxiety, grief, memory loss, and weight gain as well as conditions like type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The body also releases cortisol whenever you feel like you’re in danger or involved in a fight-or-flight response. When stress seems never-ending and remains high for too long—like during the pandemic—then cortisol will make you feel awful. This explains why researchers have found that the happiest people tend to have lower cortisol levels.

In my book, You, Happier, I dive deeper into each of these neurochemicals to show how they play a role in your brain type and how they impact your overall happiness. I also share specific strategies to help you balance your neurochemicals for greater joy and contentment in your life.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of people who have already learned how to have a happier brain and a happier life at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.  


  1. Clear explanation for everyone! Very useful 👍

    Comment by Magdalena — February 16, 2022 @ 6:37 AM

  2. I have Medicare and Refence Su

    Comment by Sandra Ames — February 16, 2022 @ 7:35 AM

  3. What affects, if any, can untreated high blood pressure have on your brain, moods, and happiness?

    Comment by L. Good — February 16, 2022 @ 9:13 AM

  4. Hello. This article was very helpful for me. I have been suffering with some mental health issues due to the sickness and death of my late husband. He passed away April 19th 2012. I know that I need counseling because I’m facing some health and financial issues and I have suffered with stress and anxiety for several years. This article gives me a better understanding of how the brain functions but I know each person is different. Thank you.

    Comment by Subrenna Evans — February 16, 2022 @ 10:37 AM

  5. I have a history of anxiety and depression. I have done counseling, support group, life coach and have taken supplements including estrogen. The life coach I am seeing now suggests I take a prescription by a Doctor. What does your program involve for a brain scan and being a patient at your clinic in Chicago? I live in KC Mo

    Comment by Helen Ayyad — February 16, 2022 @ 3:43 PM

  6. How can you be sure all the balance is there. I am a senior citizen and of course I have Altheimers.
    I take quite a few vitamins but only one medication.

    Comment by Eva R Steele — February 16, 2022 @ 6:43 PM

  7. Hello Helen, thank you for reaching out. We would be happy to contact you directly with more information regarding scheduling an appointment with our Chicago clinic and what that might entail for you. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 17, 2022 @ 11:47 AM

  8. I am on your email mailing list and have enjoyed the general neuroscience education. I recently saw a Podcast with Dr. Amen and Dr. Phil McGrraw which was enlightening. I want to get a full brain workup with your clinic. I have Medicare and AARP UHC Supplemental insurance and live in Houston, TX. What do you suggest?

    Comment by Deborah Freeze — February 17, 2022 @ 5:48 PM

  9. Hello L. Good, thank you for reaching out. For more information about high blood pressure, we have several blogs on the website that discuss it that you might find interesting:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 18, 2022 @ 3:36 PM

  10. Hello Deborah, thank you for reaching out. We would be more than happy to contact you directly with more information regarding pricing, financing options, insurance, and scheduling an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 18, 2022 @ 3:43 PM

  11. I had lived with depression/anxiety and on medication for 30 years. After my speck scan and treatment at Amen clinic, I no longer have depression/anxiety nor require medication.

    Comment by Paula Peatross — May 12, 2022 @ 5:11 AM

  12. Thank you so much for explaining everything in detail. Previously, I only know about the Dopamine molecule, but now I got to know some more. I still remember, when I was suffering from your anxiety, I used to take a few supplements, and also tried meditation. All the work gets for me.

    Comment by Elly — June 13, 2022 @ 5:06 AM

  13. I have suffered from depression, anxiety, anger issues, PTSD, Bipolar. I had irregular periods, fertility treatments, surgery, and used progesterone suppositories for first 3 months of both pregnancies. Diagnosed at age 51 healthy weight with uterus cancer and still going back every 6 months because now at high risk for cervical cancer. My depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD and anger issues is at all time high. My OB/GYN says no hormones because that would feed the cancer. I will be 58 on June 23rd and my anger issues are driving me crazy. I beg my psychiatrist for help. He doesn't care says I have 10 minutes. I have Medicare and United Healthcare through VA but willing to up my co pay because I need happiness in my life. I can't afford to pay for private care but co pays from from insurance. Thank you

    Comment by Teresa Gail Stiltner — April 30, 2023 @ 9:36 PM

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