Ep 197: Happy Brain Chemicals and Teen Behavior
Sometimes teens behave in ways that seem truly inexplicable. One day they'd rather die than miss a trip to the mall with their friends...and the next they can’t stand a single one of those same friends! They want to join the lacrosse team but won’t go to a single practice, date someone new every week, and change their future career three times in one day. It seems like they’re being motivated by something behind the scenes…something that even they don’t understand!
In reality, teens are acting under the influence of all sorts of brain chemicals that developed as a result of evolution. Beyond just the reproductive hormones like testosterone and estrogen that we often associate with adolescence, kids are motivated by their internal reward system, including chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals cause teens to form habits and reward-seeking patterns that not only shape their teenage lives, but potentially their adult lives too!
To understand how these chemical forces work in the teenage brain, we’re talking to Loretta Breuning, author of Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels. Loretta is the founder of the Inner Mammal Institute, which provides resources for people to understand their pleasure-seeking brain chemicals and cultivate a happier life!
In our interview, Loretta explains how oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins work, how these chemicals change teens’ behavior, and what happens when teens don’t get enough of them.