GABA is discussed on page 56 and page 70 of the Neuroplastic Transformation workbook. Review these pages. It is also discussed as a soothing neurotransmitter on the website in the Workbook/Mood and Pain section. Go to that section and review it, taking time to look at the animation, as well.
GABA is highly involved in the pleasure chemistry of the brain, along with anandamide, endorphins and oxytocin. Unlike the other substances, GABA is present in abundant quantities in both the brain and the peripheral body. Although it is too large a molecule to be able to cross the Blood Brain Barrier, the brain can “read” changes in GABA levels in the bloodstream and adjust itself to them. When GABA is released in the Nucleus Accumbens it fires deep brain pleasure hotspots.
One of the more interesting aspects of the relationship of GABA and pleasure comes from studies in depression. In patients with anhedonia, the absence of pleasure, GABA levels were consistently reduced in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, part of the mood and pain processing region of the brain. There is lower density of GABA producing neurons in the Ventral Medial Prefrontal Cortex in depressed patients. Additionally, the mechanism for making GABA is decreased in patients with major depressive disorder.
Look at the graphic on page 55 of the Neuroplastic Transformation Workbook. It shows GABA being released from the Insula to the Amygdala resulting in reduced pain. GABA is also used in regulating mood with this same circuit. GABA calms the extremes of emotions, and stimulates pleasure centers in the Amygdala.
GABA is truly the unsung hero of the brain and body. It is involved in calming, soothing, pleasure, mood regulation and pain control. It is literally everywhere, but remains hidden in plain sight. We can invoke its release by self-soothing and pleasurable activities.