Does happiness increase with altitude?

Psychiatrists claim that the brain's ability to communicate between its thinking and emotional regions is being hampered by the low oxygen levels at altitude. They think it might help to explain the connections that have been discovered between major depressive disorder, suicide rates, and higher-elevation living. Although mood swings at altitude have been researched for decades, nothing has been done to find out why these changes occur.

1. Euphoria

A sensation of contentment, assurance, or well-being known as euphoria is sometimes accentuated in pathological states, such as mania. Foods, medications, and exercise can all cause euphoria. The physiological alterations brought on by altitude have been researched for decades, but the psychological effects of increasing elevation have received less attention. Although little research has looked at these emotional shifts, anecdotal and observational studies imply that euphoria can give way to depression. Reduced oxygen, which starts at roughly 2,000 feet above sea level and reaches critical levels on Mount Everest's summit, is thought to be the cause. The brain's production of serotonin, a hormone that influences mood, may drop as a result of this reduction. The HBO series Euphoria, which stars Sydney Sweeney, delves into these themes by showing teens partying, using drugs, and having sex in an unvarnished way. The show, which depicts teenagers struggling with mental health issues, is rated R for explicit content. Because of this, it is able to tell its story more realistically than it could if it were meant for younger people.

2. Depression

People who live at higher elevations are more likely to experience depression, according to research. They think it's because of lower oxygen levels and the way hypoxia impacts emotions and mood by interfering with the metabolism of serotonin, which affects happiness. According to some research, men do not undergo a chemical shift in their brains at moderate altitudes, although women do, leading to increased levels of anxiety and despair. Hormones may also have a role in it. Those who live at altitude tend to detect mood changes more readily, and they may worsen with time, particularly if they drink alcohol or use medications that slow breathing while you sleep (such as sedatives, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills). Fortunately, with enough planning and preparation, depression at altitude can be avoided. It's crucial to take your time getting used to the new environment, drink lots of water, abstain from cigarettes and alcohol, and use no drugs. Lastly, taking in the clean mountain air can be beneficial. Research has shown that inhaling the aroma of pine trees reduces antagonism and melancholy.

3. Anxiety

Many hikers have a persistent low-level anxiety that lasts the whole ascent. Some people get severe panic episodes as a result. In these situations, the symptoms indicate that your body is using more energy than necessary to circulate oxygen throughout your body. This is why it's critical to avoid overexerting oneself and to drink enough water. Your mood and happiness are correlated with serotonin, which is also decreased by the decreased oxygen concentration. Depression is more common at altitude than at sea level, and this could be the cause. Moving to a higher elevation may increase your chances of despair, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, according to research. However, it's unclear if these mental health problems are caused by the altitude or by underlying biochemical and physiological abnormalities. Future studies on this subject might be worthwhile, according to Goodwin. She continues by saying that individuals should not disregard the distress signals they experience when flying at high altitudes.

4. Sleepiness

A dopamine surge at altitude causes a brief period of happiness. The same chemical shift in oxygen concentrations that produces euphoria also lowers serotonin, which has an impact on mood and sleep. Individuals who are predisposed to anxiety or depression are especially vulnerable to these serotonin decreases. Although the cause of altitude sickness is a reduction in oxygen availability at high elevations, several experts think that additional variables can also contribute to the symptoms. Altitude sickness symptoms might worsen as a result of stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption, or other depressants. Make sure you eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water prior to any high-altitude trips. Colorado's dry environment might make people feel less hungry, so eating regularly is crucial. Additionally, stay away from alcohol and sedatives, as they exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness and reduce breathing during sleep at altitude. Rather, stroll among the pine forests or inhale the scent of the lavender growing nearby to take in the clean mountain air. It has been demonstrated that these smells reduce tension, despair, and aggressiveness.

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