Adapted from Mental Health America…
BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) is a protein that creates and protects neurons (nerve cells) in the brain helps these cells to transmit messages more efficiently, and regulates depression-like behaviors.
Endorphins are a type of chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that is released when we experience stress or pain to reduce their negative effects and increase pleasure throughout the body. Endorphins are also responsible for the euphoric feeling known as a “runner’s high” that happens after long periods of intense exercise.
Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that increases during exercise. It plays a role in sending messages about appetite, sleep, and mood. It is the target of medications known as SSRIs or SNRIs, which are used to treat anxiety and depression.
Dopamine is involved in controlling movement and the body’s reward response system. Due to its role in how the body perceives rewards, it is heavily involved with addictions. When amounts of this chemical messenger are low, it is linked to mental health conditions including depression, schizophrenia, and psychosis.
Glutamate and GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) both act to regulate the activity of nerve cells in the parts of the brain that process visual information, determine heart rate, and affect emotions and the ability to think clearly. Low levels of GABA have been linked to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and mood disorders.