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HomeMay 15-31, 2024Professor on a Tree Dr. Munawar Aziz MCPS*

Professor on a Tree Dr. Munawar Aziz MCPS*

During our practical training in psychiatry, we were taken to a psychiatric diseases setup, which was then called a “mental hospital.” I was approached by a fairly dressed young man who narrated his story: he was serving as a professor in a Government college, but his relatives, due to jealousy and to grab his property, got him admitted here. He requested me to tell my professor to reconsider his case and arrange his release. I reluctantly gathered some courage and told my professor that he was innocent and not suffering from any psychiatric illness. The professor just said, “Okay, we will see.”

Dr. Munawar Aziz

After a short while, when it was time to move all the patients into a special lockup ward, one patient, the “professor,” was missing! A rigorous search failed, and suddenly, “the professor” started his lecture sitting on the branch of an old banyan tree located inside the premises. He was brought down with great difficulty and taken to his ward.

Such is the role of brain chemicals that a minor disturbance in their ratio can convert a normal human being into a totally different state of mind. Three hormones: serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine stand out as key players influencing mood, well-being, and overall mental health. Understanding the functions of these hormones sheds light on how they contribute to our sense of happiness and satisfaction.

Serotonin: Often referred to as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, serotonin plays a crucial role in regulating mood and emotional well-being. This neurotransmitter is synthesized in the brain and primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract. Serotonin helps modulate mood, appetite, and sleep patterns. Imbalances in serotonin levels are associated with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Activities such as exposure to sunlight, exercise, and a balanced diet can boost serotonin levels, contributing to an improved mood.

Endorphins: Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, endorphins are released in response to stress and pain, acting as a natural analgesic. Additionally, endorphins play a role in promoting a sense of euphoria and well-being. Physical activities, such as exercise, laughter, and even certain foods, can trigger the release of endorphins.

Dopamine: Known as the “reward neurotransmitter,” dopamine is associated with motivation, pleasure, and reinforcement. Dopamine is released during rewarding experiences, encouraging repetition of certain behaviors. It plays a vital role in goal-oriented behaviour, focus, and attention. Imbalances in dopamine levels are linked to conditions like Parkinson’s disease and addiction. Activities, like goal achievement, social interactions, and even the anticipation of rewards can stimulate the release of dopamine, contributing to a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

I would recommend a very nice movie named “Awakenings” to understand the role of Dopamine. The delicate balance of serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine is crucial for maintaining emotional well-being and overall happiness.

Family members and school teachers should be vigilant to note any abnormal behaviour among younger lot, if any deviation from normal behaviour is noted, it must be brought into the notice of parents or near relations.

  • Dr. Munawar Aziz
    Abbottabad, Pakistan.


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