Dopamine Deficiency: Here's What You Need To Know
Unless you’ve taken the time to go through some psychology or other medical courses in college, then it’s entirely possible that you don’t fully understand what dopamine is, how it helps you function in your daily life, and what it can mean if you don’t have enough of it in your system. If that happens to be your situation, allow us to fill in the gaps for you.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a type of chemical (specifically, a neurotransmitter) found naturally within humans that sends specialized messages between the brain and body. The brain releases dopamine in response to various pleasurable sensations, including eating, listening to music, and even having sex. Additionally, it plays a critical role in people’s motivation and reward systems, allowing people to experience positive moods, motivation, and feelings of productivity. Some of the other functions that dopamine impacts include sleep, memory and cognition, alertness, attention span, learning capabilities, and many more.
Related: How To Increase Dopamine Naturally
Symptoms of Dopamine Deficiency
One can experience a wide range of symptoms as a result of a dopamine deficiency, but this largely depends on the underlying causes of said deficiency. An individual suffering from Parkinson’s disease, for example, will experience different symptoms from those with a dopamine deficiency caused by excessive drug use. Some of the symptoms that come with dopamine deficiency conditions include:
- Tremors, muscle cramps, and spasms
- Slow muscle movements
- Muscle stiffness (rigidity)
- Difficulty staying upright
- Balance issues
- Feelings of guilt
- Low self-esteem
- Uncontrolled eye movement
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty swallowing or eating
- Low energy
- Low sex drive
- Issues with focusing
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Repeated bouts of pneumonia
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Delusions and hallucinations
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation
Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of all the symptoms associated with dopamine deficiency. However, if you believe yourself to be afflicted by any of the above symptoms, it may be beneficial to reach out to your primary medical provider for assistance.
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Causes of Dopamine Deficiency & Related Mental Health Conditions
Dopamine deficiency has been linked to a variety of different mental health conditions. However, it is not a direct cause of these conditions. Some of the most common mental health issues connected to insufficient levels of dopamine within the body include:
Depression is known as a persistent feeling of sadness that can lead to substantial adverse effects on people’s lives while stealing away the pleasure or interest one may have once felt in their daily activities. Depression tends to involve a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, mood swings, weight gain or loss, apatite changes, a loss of sexual desire, excessive or to-little sleep, and much more. Depression is also experienced by women two times more than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Psychosis involves a general loss of contact with the real world and can include hallucinations or delusions. Psychosis significantly impacts how people are able to reason, think, and perceive the world around them. Their senses can detect a stimulus that does not exist, and those experiencing this condition may have difficulty determining what is and isn’t real.
Schizophrenia is a type of mental health condition that can impact a person’s speech, emotions, thinking, and other life elements that affect their ability to engage socially with other people and go about their everyday. Once schizophrenia develops, it is a lifelong condition without a known cure, but treatment can help people manage their symptoms more effectively.
Parkinson’s disease is a particular type of movement disorder can impact the body’s nervous system, resulting in the onset of various symptoms that grow worse over time. This disease tends to begin with a tremor of the hands and a sensation of stiffness throughout the body. More symptoms tend to develop later, such as dementia, and most of them appear as a result of falling dopamine levels in the brain.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Dopamine Deficiency
At this time, there is no way to directly and reliably measure the dopamine levels present in a person’s brain. However, doctors can measure the density of dopamine transporters within the body, which correlate positively with the nerve cells that can detect and use dopamine. This requires the injection of radioactive material that can bind itself to these dopamine transporters, which doctors can then monitor and measure using a specialized camera.
Natural Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels
Consulting with a qualified psychiatric professional is typically a good idea when handling issues of dopamine deficiency. However, there are also several natural remedies that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help your body naturally increase its dopamine levels. Some of these remedies include:
- Frequent exercise
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating plenty of protein
- Eating less saturated fats
- Eating velvet beans
- Using probiotics
- Taking supplements
- Listening to music
- Getting plenty of sunlight
Consider implementing these fundamental lifestyle changes to see how they can impact your overall life quality. There’s a good chance that you’ll see some significant improvements in your overall mood and ability to function.
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