Dopamine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter. It transmits chemical messages either within your brain’s nerve cells or between your brain and the rest of your body. Memory, motivation, learning, rewarding, and movement are just a few of the many bodily processes it supports. Low levels of this hormone means one is dealing with dopamine deficiency. Depression and Parkinson’s disease are two illnesses that have been associated with low levels of dopamine. Additionally, it might make you more prone to making risky decisions or forming addictions.
Causes of Low Dopamine Levels
The neurotransmitter, dopamine, is produced in specific regions of the brain. If the parts of your brain that create dopamine are damaged, you could have low levels of the chemical. You can also have low levels of dopamine if your body doesn’t react to dopamine properly (if there’s an issue with the nerve cell receptors that take in and transmit the chemical message).
Dopamine insufficiency is associated with several medical problems. For instance, specific parts of the brain in persons with Parkinson’s disease lose nerve cells and dopamine. Because their brains’ dopamine receptors have been destroyed and their dopamine release has been reduced.
Symptoms that Indicate a Dopamine Deficiency
Low dopamine levels can cause a variety of symptoms such as:
- Your drive and your motivation are lacking.
- You’re exhausted.
- You struggle to focus.
- You’re anxious or irritable.
- Previously pleasurable experiences no longer make you happy.
- You’re down and feel hopeless.
- You don’t have much sexual desire.
- Your sleep is disrupted or you’re finding it difficult to sleep.
Other indications of insufficient dopamine include:
- Parkinson’s disease: symptoms include hand tremors or other tremors at rest, loss of coordination or balance, increased limb/muscle stiffness, and cramping.
- Leg trembling syndrome: difficulties performing daily chores, short-term memory, and simple reasoning (symptoms of cognitive changes).
- Anger management issues: a low sense of self-worth, anxiety, forgetfulness, impulsivity, and a lack of organizational skills (symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
- Social detachment: diminished feelings and lack of enjoyment (negative symptoms of schizophrenia).
- Digestive system issues: such as persistent constipation.
Dopamine deficiency manifests itself in a variety of ways depending on your underlying cause and what you might go through. Your symptoms, for instance, would be very different if your low dopamine level was linked to schizophrenia than if it was linked to Parkinson’s disease.
Dopamine Deficiency Treatment
The underlying reason will determine how to treat dopamine insufficiency:
1. Parkinson’s Illness
Parkinson’s disease patients may receive prescriptions for levodopa. Dopamine agonists function by imitating dopamine which causes nerve cells to respond similarly.
2. Restless Legs Syndrome
The dopamine agonists ropinirole, rotigotine, and pramipexole are also used to treat this disorder.
Selective serotonin uptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine, which influence both the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine to make them function, may be used to treat depression.
4. Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Methylphenidate, which raises dopamine activity, can be used to treat this disease.
How is a Deficiency of Dopamine Identified?
Lack of dopamine is not a recognized medical condition. Dopamine levels are rarely assessed by medical professionals. Even a blood test by itself doesn’t reveal much valuable information. A blood test, for instance, can assess dopamine levels but not how your brain reacts to dopamine.
Instead, they will evaluate you, record your medical history, inquire about your symptoms, and will prescribe you a dopamine level test. Lifestyle inquiries may include questions about drug and alcohol usage.
Your healthcare professional will decide if you have a medical condition associated with a low dopamine level, using this information along with the results of your testing. A dopamine transporter test may be prescribed if your doctor suspects you have Parkinson’s disease. A radioactive substance (such as a dye) is injected into your bloodstream for this imaging exam and it is then followed using single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Parkinson’s disease causes damaged nerve cells and dopamine loss in the parts of your brain that are affected which results in a clear pattern that can be seen on the scan.
How can One Naturally Raise Their Dopamine Levels?
Consult a medical professional if you believe your dopamine levels to be low. You may have an illness that can be treated that is linked to dopamine insufficiency. If a disease cannot be identified, you might want to attempt treatments that increase dopamine naturally.
Remember that more study is required to determine how diet affects neurotransmitters like dopamine. Eat a diet rich in tyrosine-containing foods and magnesium. These serve as the building elements for the synthesis of dopamine. Tyrosine is an amino acid. It enters your body, where it is absorbed, and travels to your brain, where it is changed into dopamine.
To boost dopamine one should eat these foods:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Green tea
- Lima beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Wheat germ
Spend time doing things that make you happy or calm to increase dopamine levels. Exercise, meditation, yoga, massage, playing with a pet, going on a walk in nature, and reading a book are a few examples.
Which Supplements Increase Levels of Dopamine?
Among the supplements that increase dopamine levels are:
- B5, B6, and vitamin D
- Essential omega-3 fatty acids
Your physical and mental health may suffer from a dopamine shortage. Low levels of dopamine are associated with several illnesses, including Parkinson’s disease, restless legs syndrome, depression, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These problems can be managed with treatments. Although you should first consult with your healthcare professional, other ways to increase low dopamine levels may be considered. Together, you and your healthcare professional will determine the best method for managing your dopamine deficiency.