One issue that people deal with is low dopamine. This can lead to a number of problems, such as feeling unmotivated, struggling to focus, and experiencing depression. Luckily, there are ways to treat low dopamine naturally.
In this post, we’ll dig into facts about dopamine as well as the best methods of treating low dopamine naturally.
Low dopamine states are quite common and sometimes go years without being identified, let alone treated. Knowing the signs of dopamine deficiency can alert you to the possible need for dietary changes, natural supplements, or neurotransmitter testing to get you feeling your best sooner rather than later.
Many factors influence dopamine levels: genes, early life experiences particularly trauma, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, interpersonal strife, environmental toxins, and prescription medications (particularly certain antidepressants).
Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar also seem to decrease dopamine activity in the brain, and dopamine is easily damaged and made ineffective by oxidative stress.
What is dopamine and what is it responsible for?
Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine and is the basic building block for other brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and epinephrine, which as a group are called catecholamines.
This is an all-important brain chemical critical for memory and motor skills. Adequate dopamine levels are needed to allow us to focus our attention and it’s the main player in regulating our reward circuitry and pleasure centers.
What are the effects of dopamine deficiency?
Symptoms commonly associated with low dopamine states include: cravings, compulsions, loss of satisfaction, lowered sex drive, and addictive behaviors including drug and alcohol use, smoking cigarettes, gambling, and overeating. These actions often reflect an unconscious attempt to self-medicate, looking for the satisfaction that is not occurring naturally in the body.
Other symptoms you may experience include:
- Brain fog.
- Absence or reduction of positive mood and thoughts.
- Excess sleepiness.
- Increased appetite, particularly carb cravings.
- Weight gain leading to obesity.
What happens when dopamine is low?
When dopamine levels are unbalanced (too high or too low) it affects concentration, motivation, impulse control and can lead to acting more competitive or aggressive. If you are experiencing dopamine burnout you may start to withdraw socially and increasingly struggle with low self-esteem. This is a result of the brain responding by shifting into survival mode to manage the influx of physical or environmental factors depleting dopamine levels.
What diseases are affected by dopamine?
Because dopamine helps nerve cells send messages to each other, people with Parkinson’s Disease are usually given medicine to boost dopamine levels. In Parkinson’s disease nerve cells that produce dopamine gradually die, contributing to problems with muscle stiffness and movement. Dopamine supplementation can often improve these symptoms.
Low dopamine can also cause depression and even schizophrenia, as well as metabolic syndrome, PTSD, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue.
What are natural treatments for low dopamine?
Although signs and symptoms can give clues about your dopamine levels, there is no substitute for measuring your dopamine and other neurotransmitter levels using a non-invasive (urine) test that can be easily and safely done in the comfort and privacy of your own home. (See info on NeuroBasic Neurotransmitter Test.)
This article explains the five reasons you should have your dopamine and neurotransmitter levels tested: Five reasons you should have your Dopamine Levels tested!
A clinical strategy we often use to increase the production of dopamine is to supplement with targeted amino acid therapy (tyrosine), herbal forms of L-dopa, and methylated B vitamins.
While there are foods (almonds, avocados, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin and sesame seeds) known to be dopamine boosting, neurotransmitters are frequently not supplied in great enough levels by our modern diet or in the way our brain best utilizes them. As stress further depletes supplies, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the brain to restore necessary amounts to proper levels.
Dopamine supplements give your brain building blocks to help increase your dopamine levels naturally. In addition, we recommend supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin E, and other antioxidants to further protect dopamine-using neurons from free radical damage caused by stress.