Dopamine effects us in many ways. It is the chemical in the brain that regulates emotion, cognition, and motivation. It also influences how people perceive pain, create memories and learn new skills.
While it is often called the “happy hormone”, it doesn’t actually create happiness or pleasure. It acts as a link between certain behaviors and happiness. Dopamine is produced in the brain in response to the actions we take. Dopamine is also responsible for our fight or flight response, as the release of dopamine is activated when we perceive a threat.
Symptoms Of Low Dopamine
With most things in life, having too little or too much of something can be a problem. This is also the case with dopamine.
The symptoms of dopamine deficiency can vary from one person to another. Some may experience depression or a lack of motivation while others may have concentration problems or personality changes.
Symptoms of low dopamine levels include:
- Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Sadness and hopelessness
- Irritability and mood swings
- Low libido
What Causes Low Dopamine?
Low levels of dopamine can be caused by a variety of factors. Lack of sleep will reduce the number of dopamine receptors in the brain, resulting in low dopamine levels. You will also feel drowsy and less alert in the morning.
Just as lack of sleep can reduce the number of dopamine receptors in the brain, obesity can do the same.
Last but not least, stress can cause low levels of dopamine. Stress can be beneficial in small amounts, but when it becomes an ongoing part of your day-to-day, it can drastically decrease dopamine production in your body. Over long periods of time, this can lead to the body being deficient in dopamine.
How to Treat Low Dopamine
As stated above, there are many ways that low dopamine effects us negatively. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can work to improve the dopamine levels in your body.
Exercise is a valuable part of any daily routine, and research has shown that it increases dopamine production in the body. Getting out and moving about, whether you are running, swimming, or biking, can stimulate your brain and give it a shot of dopamine.
Dopamine receptors in the brain are decreased when we are sleep-deprived. Therefore, it’s best to always strive for a solid sleep schedule to keep your levels of dopamine high. During the morning, dopamine plays a big role in feeling alert. So not having a consistent sleep schedule or getting low quality sleep, may cause difficulty waking in the morning, and trouble sleeping at night.
Many of us have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in which people have periods of low mood during the winter seasons when they are not exposed to enough sunlight. Various studies have shown that exposure to sunlight can boost our mood-boosting neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine.
Dopamine is an important part of our biology, and it can influence us in many different ways. While levels of dopamine are regulated within the body, we can do some small things to help boost levels.
It is important to note that if you are experiencing symptoms that indicate something more serious than low dopamine levels, we encourage you to seek professional help. If low dopamine levels are caused by a medical condition, ensuring you get treatment is the best path forward to a healthier and happier you!