A girl from Miami, living in the mountains of Utah, still wearing heels in the snow.
What do addiction, Parkinson’s, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and depression have in common?
The answer is dopamine.
What is dopamine?
Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter in the brain. It is often referred to as the “reward” chemical because, among other things, it is responsible for making you feel productive and gives you the ability to focus.
It is also what controls your brain’s pleasure center and plays a major role in regulating your mood, helping you sleep, helps control your motor skills and is part of maintaining memories. Simply put, dopamine is critically important to your health.
What happens when you don’t have enough dopamine?
Before we can talk about the symptoms of low dopamine or a dopamine deficiency, we need to understand what dopamine does.
According to BeFitBrain.com, there are more than 100,000 research studies on dopamine and what it does. While there is still a lot to be learned about dopamine, there are definitely things scientist are sure of.
Think back to a time when your favorite team won a national championship or Super Bowl. The rush of excitement and elation you felt was a release of dopamine. Have you ever finished up a big project at work or reorganized a closet at home that had been on your to do list for a long time? The pure joy you felt at completing that task was a release of dopamine.
You’re probably starting to understand why dopamine is called the reward chemical. When you do something you consider personally fulfilling—even something like eating your favorite food—dopamine is released, giving you a sense of accomplishment and happiness.
Now that you understand what dopamine does, we can talk about what happens when you don’t have enough dopamine. The following is a list of the most common symptoms attributed to low dopamine:
- Lack of motivation
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol
- Lack of focus
- Memory issues
- Extreme fatigue
- Feeling hopeless or joyless
- Loss of balance Diminished motor skills
What causes low dopamine
Unfortunately, researchers aren’t sure what causes low dopamine but there are certain conditions that contribute to it. Some of these include:
- Drug abuse
- Chronic depression
How to treat low dopamine
There are four key ways you can help boost healthy levels of dopamine:
- Stick to a diet rich in dopamine-producing foods (see our brain health recipes );
- Take supplements like Cerveau that help increase dopamine production;
- Get regular exercise
- Live a healthy lifestyle (managing stress, limiting alcohol consumption, etc)