Euphoria is an overwhelming feeling of happiness, joy, and well-being. People experiencing euphoria may feel carefree, safe, and free of stress. This emotion can be either a normal reaction to happy events or a symptom of substance abuse and certain mental health conditions.
Euphoria and Neurotransmitters
Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for euphoria. This chemical enables feelings of pleasure and well-being, and insufficient quantities of dopamine can inhibit a person’s ability to feel pleasure. Serotonin can also affect feelings of well-being, although serotonin does not typically cause feelings of euphoria. Medications that regulate neurotransmitters can enable people to feel satisfaction and happiness, as well as more elated feelings of euphoria.
Causes of Euphoria
Euphoria is not in itself a medical condition and is in fact one of the most pleasurable aspects of being human. Sexual satisfaction, exciting life events, achievement, and love can all provoke feelings of euphoria. Exercise also causes feelings of euphoria when the body depletes its glycogen stores and then releases endorphins. Occasionally, however, a person’s euphoria does not make sense within a particular context. Several conditions and lifestyle choices can contribute to incongruous feelings of euphoria:
- Drug use may cause euphoria. Cannabis, heroin, MDMA (also known as ecstasy), and some hallucinogens may cause euphoria. Often, the euphoric feelings wane with increasing use. Drugs that cause feelings of euphoria frequently act directly on dopamine levels.
- Manic states brought about by bipolar or cyclothymia often cause periods of euphoria followed by feelings of depression.
- Though rare, some brain disorders and head injuries may cause inappropriate feelings of euphoria. When a tumor or head injury interferes with the body’s ability to process negative emotions or alters the production of neurotransmitters, ongoing euphoria may be the result.
- Some schizophrenic patients may experience euphoria, particularly if they experience pleasant delusions and hallucinations.
- Hypoxia–oxygen deprivation–may cause euphoria. This variety of euphoria is common among people who rapidly ascend to high altitudes, such as mountain climbers.
- Audesirk, T., Audesirk, G., & Byers, B. E. (2008). Biology: Life on earth with physiology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Last Updated: 08-7-2015
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KentOctober 2nd, 2019 at 6:36 AM
I started getting feelings of euphoria about six months ago for no apparent reason. It has increased with time, probably up to a couple of times per week and lasting a couple of hours each time. Because nothing has changed in my life or medications (atenelol for hypertension and sumatriptan for migraines) the sensation is somewhat concerning. I haven’t mentioned it to anyone because the idea seems preposterous. But because of my migraine medication I sometimes wonder if this could cause a tumor, and this may be a symptom of that.
KarenNovember 28th, 2019 at 9:45 AM
Kent, I was so glad to read your comment. I suffered a mild brain injury 5 yrs ago in an auto accident. It has been a struggle to regain a functioning life but I have succeed with with help of several great therapists and natural dietary changes. I too once suffered from migraines in which have neutralized w magnesium supplements , yoga & mindful mediation. Currently I no longer need the supplement. Although since the accident I have experienced periodic unexplainable euphoric highs. Sometimes they wake me in the middle of the night when I role over and get so high I am nauseous.
This current bout is going on 4 days! And my last bout was less than 2 months ago. 😐 In the past it would happen for a day with a 8 month to year span. I am searching Dr Google since medical dr here look at me like I have 15 snake heads when I tell them.
I would be interested in communicating to see what helps you.
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