Hormones Involved in Love

Dopamine and Serotonin- Dopamine is a hormone that has several functions: promoting coordinated motor movements, impulse control and mood control.  As far as coordinated motor movement is concerned, dopamine’s role is to create “normal” movements that we use on a day to day basis such as walking and balance.  Low levels of dopamine have been known to be seen in those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, thus contributing to their lack of coordinated movement.

Dopamine’s impulse control can be associated with addictive behavior such as drugs, alcohol, and an attraction to someone.  Dopamine also acts as a mood control- its main purpose are to reinforce any behaviors that create the “feel good” or “happy” feeling. Contrarily, serotonin’s hormonal function is primarily used to create a “calm” feeling and promote emotional well-being.  An imbalance between serotonin and dopamine is usually linked to depression and anxiety.  Since serotonin is used to create that calm feeling, it can be said that low levels of serotonin are linked to depression and suicidal thoughts because the calmness and emotional well-being levels have also been decreased.

Cortisol-  Cortisol’s main function is to control stress response in the body through the restoration of homeostasis in the early morning following an exposure to stress. It affects the metabolic system, ion transport, the immune system, and memory.  As far as memory is concerned (the important aspect in this context), cortisol is found in the hippocampus of the brain. High levels of cortisol in the hippocampus causes memory loss.  Cortisol also initiates a feedback loop by blocking the secretion of corticotripin-releasing hormone.  However, extreme stress levels can cause a defect in the feedback loop.

Oxytocin– Oxytocin is a hormone that is secreted by the pituitary gland. This particular hormone administers several specific functions mostly related to childbirth and motherhood.  More specifically, this hormone is used to ease a quick and efficient delivery in child birth and promote milk production in nursing mothers.  Higher levels of oxytocin promote trust, bonding, and love between people who are close to each other.