norepinephrine in the brain

Norepinephrine What is it and what is its function?

What is norepinephrine?

Norepinephrine or NE is a catecholamine with multiple roles in the body. NO acts as a neurotransmitter and as a regulatory hormone of the nervous system. The hormones norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin act in the same way to regulate the brain’s levels of attention and activation in the face of stress.

Norepinephrine plays a fundamental role in the endocrine system. On the other hand, the release of the stress hormone cortisol acts in the opposite way of this hormone.

Current research has proven the effects of norepinephrine on concentration. Just as they relate, the release of this hormone combined with epinephrine in deciding to fight or run in the face of an alert situation. (1)

When norepinephrine levels rise, glucose stores are used up rapidly. The heart rate increases, and the glycogen stores of the muscle fibers are primed for a rapid response. (1)

Norepinephrine – function

Some research suggests the use of NE as an effective treatment for depression. (1) (2) According to these studies, this hormone plays a fundamental role in motivating the intellect and the ability to interact socially.

When norepinephrine is used as a medicine, blood pressure increases. Then all kinds of hormonal mechanisms are triggered that improve a person’s social skills. Being the inability to interact the main factor in people with depression. (2)

Norepinephrine vs. dopamine vs. serotonin

Both norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin are monoamine-type neurotransmitters (5). Norepinephrine is synthesized from dopamine. (1) This hormone is released by the adrenal medulla into the bloodstream. Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan, one of the nine essential amino acids.

Low levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin have been reported in people with depression. (2) Although determining the causes of depression is not easy, science confirms an imbalance of the three hormones in this disease.

Some authors call serotonin the happiness hormone. The reality is that the three hormones work together. The most effective antidepressants for treating depression (venlafaxine, milnacipran, and duloxetine) act as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. (2)

Norepinephrine and depression

Norepinephrine is directly related to depression. Several studies suggest that studying NE levels is key to alleviating symptoms of depression. (2) (3) (1)

Both genetic disorders and chronic stress are two factors that trigger depression. When this happens, cortisol levels in the body increase; norepinephrine and oxytocin levels decrease.

When NE levels are low, the immune system cells do not connect properly with the brain. (2) This fact can cause problems not only in the mood of a person; but in triggering all kinds of autoimmune diseases.

How to increase norepinephrine?

Physical exercise in the open air and a healthy diet are two fundamental components of increasing norepinephrine. Psychological therapy and pharmacological treatments are adequate to regulate the levels of monoamines.

Current studies confirm a significant increase in the levels of monoamine hormones when exercising. In particular, the effects of high-intensity aerobic exercises were documented. (4)

Other studies confirm the benefits of walking, running, and different types of lower intensity cardiovascular exercise are also effective in stimulating the release of the hormones norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. (5) In turn, when these hormones are high, the feeling of hunger is reduced; the hormone leptin is what regulates this process.


  • Norepinephrine is one of the three monoamine hormones directly related to mood and mental health.
  • This neurotransmitter is synthesized from dopamine. Monoamine levels are low in people with depression.
  • One strategy to boost the three mood-regulating hormones is to go for a run outside or run regularly.

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