"Obese people overeat because the food reward centre in their brain is so sluggish, it takes more food to feel satisfied, new research suggests.
In a study of young girls and women, scientists tested the brain’s response to a “highly palatable food” - chocolate milkshakes. They found that the part of the brain that releases the feel-good chemical dopamine in response to eating is less active in the obese.
“We think what’s really going on is, if you consume a diet rich in fat and sugar, you get down regulation of the reward circuitry,” Stice said. “By flooding the brain with dopamine your brain adjusts to having fewer receptors.” That means it takes more food to experience the same “high” as lean people, much what happens with alcohol or drug abuse."
- From the article Obese people respond differently to food, study shows
We seem to self-medicate our suffering with socially-acceptable distractions and indulgences because we are often not aware of any other way to deal with our emotional load.
The sad truth appears to be that if we become excited (so that we temporarily numb our sensitivity to suffering), then this makes it even more difficult to feel happy when not excited. This is because a hyperabundance of dopamine triggered by an excited state 'fries' the neruroreceptors in our brains' reward centre.
After this, it seems we have 2 choices:
1) Weather a 'winter of the soul' and give our neuroreceptors a chance to grow back so that we can feel 'normally' happy in the future, or
2) Find a way to maintain a hyperabundance of dopamine in our reward center so that we feel 'normally happy.
If we go with 1) and weather the scarcity of happiness out, it seems we can have a more relaxing, healthy time, but with less excitement (how easy is that in today's society, though?).
If we go with 2) and maintain dopamine hyperabundance, then we could quite likely end up with a cocaine habit, or something equally as destructive.
It seems the only answer to perpetual happiness in life is to accept boredom. A bitter pill to swallow!