Endorphins are hormones that are released when your body feels pain or stress. They are produced in your brain and act as messengers in your body. Endorphins are produced to help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve mood. Endorphins can be boosted by exercising, eating, having sex, getting a massage and many other ways.
Endorphins are chemicals (hormones) your body releases when it feels pain or stress. They’re released during pleasurable activities such as exercise, massage, eating and sex too. Endorphins help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being.
Endorphins are created in your pituitary gland and hypothalamus, both located in the brain. Endorphins are a type of neurotransmitter, or messenger in your body. They attach to your brain’s reward centers (opioid receptors) and carry signals across your nervous system.
Endorphin comes from the words “endogenous,” which means within the body, and “morphine,” an opiate pain reliever. Put together, that means endorphins are natural pain relievers. They are “feel-good” chemicals because they can make you feel better and put you in a positive state of mind.
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There are more than 20 types of endorphins in your body. Beta-endorphins are the endorphins involved in stress relief and pain management. Beta-endorphins have a stronger effect than morphine on your body.
Endorphins are released when your body feels pain or stress. Your body releases endorphins to help you survive. When you feel pain, nerves in your body send pain signals to your brain. Your brain releases endorphins to block the nerve cells that receive the pain signals.
This essentially turns off your pain. It helps you to continue functioning, even in painful or stressful situations. Because you naturally seek to avoid pain, you’re more likely to do something if it makes you feel good.
Endorphins have many benefits. Studies have shown they can help in the following ways:
One of the easiest ways to release endorphins is by exercising. The more you exercise, the more endorphins your body will produce. Many people feel a “runner’s high” after a good run. But you don’t have to run to feel a runner’s high. Other forms of exercise that will help you release endorphins include:
Other ways to release endorphins include:
Some people don't produce enough endorphins. Symptoms of endorphin deficiency include:
Endorphins boost the release of dopamine in your body. Dopamine is another neurotransmitter. The release of dopamine affects your mood. People with a lack of endorphins may show signs of depression. This is because of a lack of dopamine. Other effects of endorphin deficiency can include:
Your body produces and releases endorphins in many ways. Besides exercise, you can:
Endorphins and dopamine are both chemicals in your body that make you happy, but they function in different ways. Endorphins relieve pain naturally. When they attach to your brain’s reward centers (opiate receptors), dopamine is then released.
For example, endorphins will naturally help soothe a runner’s achy muscles. Then dopamine will be released, producing a runner’s high. Dopamine motivates you to do something over and over again. So endorphins and dopamine do work together.
No. Endorphins and serotonin are both chemicals in your body that make you happy, but they function in different ways. Serotonin helps stabilize your mood and well-being. It helps other systems in your body function as well. Endorphins are focused on pain relief and stress relief.
If you experience the following symptoms of endorphin deficiency, you should call your healthcare provider right away:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Endorphins are an important chemical released by your body to help you relieve pain and reduce stress. They also help improve your mental well-being. There are many ways to boost your endorphins. Try a new sport, eat spicy food, have sex, laugh at a joke or watch a funny movie. If you’re worried about your endorphin levels, contact your healthcare provider.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/19/2022.
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