Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that allow neurons (brain cells) to communicate with each other. These connections are fundamental to all of our brain’s processes. They also play large roles in our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and brain function.
The four main neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and GABA.
Dopamine is your main motivation, pleasure, and reward neurotransmitter. It controls your ability to want to do things, to be excited to do things, and to push yourself to do things. If you have trouble finishing tasks or even initiating tasks, that’s a pattern of low dopamine activity. Dopamine dysfunction is also the primary neurotransmitter involved in addictive behavior.
Serotonin strongly influences your sense of general well being. Poor serotonin activity often results in nothing really bringing a person joy — the things that would normally make a person happy no longer do. Unsurprisingly, this neurotransmitter is frequently associated with depression.
Acetylcholine is your memory neurotransmitter. Memory loss, slow mental processing, difficulty with comprehension, and difficulty with directions are common symptoms of poor acetylcholine activity. This neurotransmitter is most associated with dementia.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps calm your brain. If GABA levels are imbalanced, you may struggle with anxiety and a restless mind, a sense of dread, feelings of overwhelm, and disorganized attention. This neurotransmitter is typically associated with anxiety.