Our Brains and Serotonin - Part 2 -- Using Our Anxieties
Are you restless, bored, or uneasy? Not knowing what else to do, do you seek to relieve your anxiety by distracting yourself with food, alcohol, or other binging behaviors? Many want to sell us a pill to settle our nerves, but our bodies are trying to tell us something important about our lives. We must listen.
Anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity all come from the same chemical in our brains: cortisol. We say that this chemical generates fear, but that fear can feel like an unsatisfied hunger. Two other chemicals can counter this cortisol. One is dopamine, which is released by satisfying a physical need. The other is serotonin, which is released by satisfying a social need. Once our physical needs are met, our restlessness arises from our positioning with those around us. Our marketplaces addict us to dopamine rather than serotonin because our physical needs are easier to satisfy than our social and emotional ones. The dopamine temporarily counters our anxiety, but the result is that we feel worse about ourselves over time, not better. Only recently has society started offering junk social relationships in addition to junk food.
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