How does disappointment affect mood?
by Vanita Dahia
- Things not working out your way?
- On a downer?
- Feeling down or disappointed?
When things don’t work out the way we expect them to, we might feel overwhelmed or saddened by circumstances. That downer feeling involves neurotransmitters becoming imbalanced and changes in neural firing underpinning the proverbial negative outlook.
How does disappointment affect neurotransmitters?
Happy and sad brain chemicals called inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters send signals from one neuron to the next like an electric grid to all parts of the body.
All neurotransmitters are associated with mood control. Neurotransmitters are released upon neural induction to maintain the nervous system and mood.
An essential amino acid called glutamine, the most abundant amino acid, found in protein sources manufactures an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate which in turn synthesises Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
In a study led by Dr Roberto Malinow of University of California, San Diego, it was shown that both glutamate and GABA were simultaneously released from a specific part of the brain involved in emotion and disappointment.
When glutamate is released to a greater extent than GABA, behavioral changes become dominant. High levels of glutamate may manifest as aggression, irrational behavior and disappointments.
GABA is required to keep the system calm, relieve anxiety and maintain relaxation. Interestingly, alcohol stimulates GABA receptors, hence a feeling of calm when drinking a glass of wine.
GABA together with serotonin work hand-in-hand with each other to compensate for each other as inhibitory neurotransmitters. As depleted serotonin levels are supported perhaps with an antidepressant or its precursor neurotransmitter, such as tryptophan, GABA levels may increase to compensate for serotonin depletion. GABA cab therefore be instrumental in asssisting with feelings of disappointment.
Testing for GABA and Glutamate
Testing for GABA and glutamate, two of many neurotransmitters can be measured in a simple DIY urine sample. The neurotransmitters that are measured in urine are serotonin, dopamine, GABA, glutamate, noradrenaline, adrenaline, PEA, glycine, and histamine. Find out more by testing for mental health or in-depth testing for mental health.
Want to know more?
Ref: Roberto Malinow et al., GABA/glutamate co-release controls habenula output, Science 19 Sep 2014:Vol. 345, Issue 6203, pp. 1494-1498