Gratitude. Is it the best medication available? July 10, 2017 News People talk about different foods ‘doing us good’; but so do some emotions. Take, gratitude, for instance: your brain and your body loves it. Why? You may know that the antidepressant Wellbutrin boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine has lots of functions in the brain. You can do your own research but it’s involved in everything from feelings of pleasure to regulating movement and the control of attention. But do you know what studies show boosts dopamine in equal measure? Yes, gratitude. And then there’s Prozac, of course, which boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. Among other things, serotonin is important for mood balance, protecting us from depression. But studies reveal that gratitude also boosts serotonin. The simple act of focusing on good things in your life increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex. There’s definitely cause for thought here. Gratitude may not always come easily, of course. Life may not be going well, (it doesn’t always) and you feel there’s nothing to be grateful for. But this doesn’t actually matter; it’s the searching for the positives that counts. The grateful mindset is a form of emotional intelligence and a good habit. One study found that it affects neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful. And obviously gratitude doesn’t just release good things into your body. It makes people around you happy because it’s an attractive emotion to be close to. So a positive feedback loop is created, a beautiful circle. Gratitude. Is it the best medication on the market?