Many of us do not realize the effect that love has on our wellbeing, though it’s very important for our bodies and minds. Research has shown that those who lack love in their lives are much more prone to suffering from depression. One of the most common causes of depression is to not feel loved or appreciated.
Having love in your life helps you establish a healthy mental state, acting as a natural antidepressant and stress reliever. A healthy relationship has the power to maintain a happy heart and healthy mind and heart. Numerous studies have shown that people in healthy marriages live longer and have fewer health problems than those who are unhappily married or are not in a relationship.
Our bodies respond to love and affection, producing a hormone called oxytocin which is in the area of the brain called the hypothalamus. Some is released into the bloodstream, but much of its effect is believed to reside in the brain. “Oxytocin makes us feel good when we are close to family and other loved ones, including pets. It does this through what scientists call the dopamine reward system. Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a crucial role in how we perceive pleasure. Several drugs act through this system. Problems with this system can lead to severe depression and other mental illnesses”. Oxytocin does more than make us feel good; it also decreases levels of stress hormones in the body, lowers blood pressure, improves mood and increases pain tolerance.
One of the things that researchers say with certainty is that physical contact affects oxytocin levels. Those of us who have physical interaction with other people, such as hugging and other forms of affectionate contact, tend to have higher levels of oxytocin. For example, mothers and nursing babies produce higher levels of oxytocin when they exchange a lot of tender contact with one another.
Even though we cannot yet completely understand how love affects our health, we know that there is a connection and new discoveries are being made every day. Taking the time to show love to your loved ones… is good for you!