Euphoria[note 1] (pronunciation: //) is an affective state and a form of pleasure in which a person experiences intense feelings of well-being, happiness, and excitement. Certain drugs, many of which are addictive, are known to cause euphoria. Similarly, certain natural rewards and social activities, such as physical exercise, laughter, music listening and making, and dancing, can induce a state of euphoria. Euphoria has also been cited as being experienced by those participating in certain religious or spiritual rituals and meditation. Euphoria is also known to occur as a symptom of mania.
Many different types of stimuli can induce euphoria, including psychoactive drugs, natural rewards, and social activities. Affective disorders such as unipolar mania or bipolar disorder can involve euphoria as a symptom.
Continuous physical exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, can induce a state of euphoria; for example, distance running is often associated with a "runner's high", which is a pronounced state of exercise-induced euphoria. Exercise is known to affect dopamine signaling in the nucleus accumbens, producing euphoria as a result, through increased biosynthesis of three particular neurochemicals: anandamide (an endocannabinoid), β-endorphin (an endogenous opioid), and phenethylamine (a trace amine and amphetamine analog).
Euphoria has been known to occur as a result of dancing to music, music-making, and listening to emotionally arousing music. Emotionally arousing music increases dopamine neurotransmission in the dopaminergic pathways that project to the striatum (i.e., the mesolimbic pathway and nigrostriatal pathway).
An euphoriant is a type of psychoactive drug which tends to induce euphoria. Most pharmacological euphoriants are addictive drugs due to their reinforcing properties and ability to activate the brain's reward system.
Dopaminergic stimulants like amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA, and methylphenidate are euphoriants. Nicotine is a parasympathomimetic stimulant that acts as a mild euphoriant in some people, but not others.
µ-Opioid receptor agonists are a class of euphoriants that include drugs such as heroin, morphine, codeine, buprenorphine, dihydrocodeine, fentanyl, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, and pethidine.
κ-Opioid receptor antagonists are also capable of inducing euphoria. By contrast, κ-opioid receptor agonists, like the endogenous neuropeptide dynorphin, are known to cause dysphoria, a mood state opposite to euphoria that involves feelings of profound discontent.
Certain drugs, such as buprenorphine, are both mu-opioid agonists and kappa-opioid antagonists, thereby creating euphoria through multiple mechanisms at once.
Cannabinoid receptor 1 agonists are a class of euphoriants that includes certain plant-based cannabinoids (e.g., THC from the cannabis plant), endogenous cannabinoids (e.g., anandamide), and synthetic cannabinoids.
Euphoria is also strongly associated with both hypomania and mania, mental states characterized by a pathological heightening of mood, which may be either euphoric or irritable, in addition to other symptoms, such as pressured speech, flight of ideas, and grandiosity.
Although hypomania and mania are syndromes with multiple etiologies (that is, ones that may arise from any number of conditions), they are most commonly seen in bipolar disorder, a psychiatric illness characterized by alternating periods of mania and depression.
Brief euphoria may occur immediately before or during epileptic seizures originating in the temporal lobes. Euphoria (or more commonly dysphoria) may also occur in periods between such seizures. This condition, interictal dysphoric disorder, is considered an atypical affective disorder.
Euphoria sometimes occurs in persons with multiple sclerosis as the illness progresses. This euphoria is part of a syndrome originally called euphoria sclerotica, which typically includes disinhibition and other symptoms of cognitive and behavioral dysfunction.
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- Online Etymology Dictionary
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Euphoria, a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness, is an amplification of pleasure, aspired to one's essential biological needs that are satisfied. People use party drugs as a shortcut to euphoria. Ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), γ-hydroxybutyric acid, and ketamine fall under the umbrella of the term "party drugs," each with differing neuropharmacological and physiological actions.
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The feeling of high that is experienced by sports people during running or swimming, the lust evoked by encountering a ready mating partner, a sexual orgasm, the euphoria reported by drug users, and the parental affection to babies constitute different forms (qualities) rather than degrees of pleasure (quantities).
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This heightened effect from synchronized activity may explain the sense of euphoria experienced during other social activities (such as laughter, music-making and dancing) that are involved in social bonding in humans and possibly other vertebrates.
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Changes in appetite and energy may reflect abnormalities in various hypothalamic nuclei. Depressed mood and anhedonia (lack of interest in pleasurable activities) in depressed individuals, and euphoria and increased involvement in goal-directed activities in patients, who experience mania, may reflect opposing abnormalities in the nucleus accumbens, medial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, or other structures. ... Although short-term administration of glucocorticoids often produces euphoria and increased energy, the impact of long-lasting increases in endogenous glucocorticoids produced during depression can involve complex adaptations such as those that occur in Cushing syndrome (Chapter 10). ... Exposure to addictive chemicals not only produces extreme euphoric states that may initially motivate drug use, but also causes equally extreme adaptations in reinforcement mechanisms and motivated behavior that eventually lead to compulsive use. Accordingly, the evolutionary design of human and animal brains that has helped to promote our survival also has made us vulnerable to addiction.
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The 24 hour mean urinary concentration of phenylacetic acid was increased by 77% after exercise. ... These results show substantial increases in urinary phenylacetic acid levels 24 hours after moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise. As phenylacetic acid reflects phenylethylamine levels3 , and the latter has antidepressant effects, the antidepressant effects of exercise appear to be linked to increased phenylethylamine concentrations. Furthermore, considering the structural and pharmacological analogy between amphetamines and phenylethylamine, it is conceivable that phenylethylamine plays a role in the commonly reported "runners high" thought to be linked to cerebral β-endorphin activity. The substantial increase in phenylacetic acid excretion in this study implies that phenylethylamine levels are affected by exercise. ... A 30 minute bout of moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise increases phenylacetic acid levels in healthy regularly exercising men. The findings may be linked to the antidepressant effects of exercise.
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The traditional view that PA engages the monoaminergic and endorphinergic systems has been challenged by the discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), composed of endogenous lipids, their target receptors, and metabolic enzymes. Indeed, direct and indirect evidence suggests that the ECS might mediate some of the PA-triggered effects throughout the body. ... the evidence that PA induces some of the psychotropic effects elicited by the Cannabis sativa active ingredient Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC, Fig. 1), like bliss, euphoria, and peacefulness, strengthened the hypothesis that endocannabinoids (eCBs) might mediate, at least in part, the central and peripheral effects of exercise . ... To our knowledge, the first experimental study aimed at investigating the influence of PA on ECS in humans was carried out in 2003 by Sparling and coworkers , who showed increased plasma AEA content after 45 min of moderate intensity exercise on a treadmill or cycle ergometer. Since then, other human studies have shown increased blood concentrations of AEA ... A dependence of the increase of AEA concentration on exercise intensity has also been documented. Plasma levels of AEA significantly increased upon 30 min of moderate exercise (heart rate of 72 and 83 %), but not at lower and significantly higher exercise intensities, where the age-adjusted maximal heart rate was 44 and 92 %, respectively ... Several experimental data support the hypothesis that ECS might, at least in part, explain PA effects on brain functions, because: (1) CB1 is the most abundant GPCR in the brain participating in neuronal plasticity ; (2) eCBs are involved in several brain responses that greatly overlap with the positive effects of exercise; (3) eCBs are able to cross the blood–brain barrier ; and (4) exercise increases eCB plasma levels [64–67].
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According to the 'endorphins hypothesis', exercise augments the secretion of endogenous opioid peptides in the brain, reducing pain and causing general euphoria. ... Based upon a large effect size, the results confirmed the endorphins hypothesis demonstrating that exercise leads to an increased secretion of endorphins which, in turn, improved mood states.
β-Endorphin, an endogenous μ-opioid receptor selective ligand, has received much attention in the literature linking endorphins and depression or mood states. ... exercise of sufficient intensity and duration can increase circulating β-endorphin levels. ... Moreover, a recent study demonstrated that exercise and physical activity increased β-endorphin levels in plasma with positive effects on mood. Interestingly, the researchers reported that, independently of sex and age, dynamic anaerobic exercises increased β-endorphin, while resistance and aerobic exercises seem to only have small effects on β-endorphins. ... The results showed that mood tends to be higher in a day an individual exercises as well as that daily activity and exercise overall are strongly linked with mood states. In line with these findings, a recent study showed that exercise significantly improved mood states in non-exercises, recreational exercisers, as well as marathon runners. More importantly, the effects of exercise on mood were twofold in recreational exercisers and marathon runners.
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The pharmacology of TAs might also contribute to a molecular understanding of the well-recognized antidepressant effect of physical exercise . In addition to the various beneficial effects for brain function mainly attributed to an upregulation of peptide growth factors [52,53], exercise induces a rapidly enhanced excretion of the main β-PEA metabolite β-phenylacetic acid (b-PAA) by on average 77%, compared with resting control subjects , which mirrors increased β-PEA synthesis in view of its limited endogenous pool half-life of ~30 s [18,55].
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It has also been suggested that the antidepressant effects of exercise are due to an exercise-induced elevation of PE .
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Music, an abstract stimulus, can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving, similar to tangible rewards that involve the striatal dopaminergic system. ... the caudate was more involved during the anticipation and the nucleus accumbens was more involved during the experience of peak emotional responses to music. ... Notably, the anticipation of an abstract reward can result in dopamine release in an anatomical pathway distinct from that associated with the peak pleasure itself.
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The most common aura involves feelings, such as deja vu, impending doom, fear, or euphoria.
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