LOW DOPAMINE: Top 5 Signs and Symptoms
How to Test Dopamine Levels
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps the brain process emotions, regulate movement, and experience pleasure. There is no way to measure precise levels of dopamine, but a doctor can diagnose low dopamine levels based on your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. Visit your doctor if you suspect that you have a dopamine deficiency. Promote healthy dopamine levels by sleeping well, exercising regularly, and making sure you get enough magnesium.
Diagnosing a Dopamine Deficiency
Look for symptoms of a low level of dopamine.Many of the symptoms of dopamine deficiency mirror the symptoms of clinical depression, though no verifiable links have been made between the two. Watch for signs of heightened emotions, especially sadness. Other symptoms may include:
- Mood swings
- Low motivation
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Inability to concentrate
- Impulsive behaviour
- Poor memory
- Addiction to caffeine, sugar, or other stimulants
- Weight gain
- Diminished motor skills
- Restless leg syndrome
Consult your doctor if you suspect you have low levels of dopamine.Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms, lifestyle, and medical history to conclude whether or not your dopamine levels are low. Tell your doctor about any recent physical or mental health issues you have experienced. This may include sudden life changes, undue stress, or a traumatic event or injury.
- Your doctor may run a test for Parkinson’s disease, which is linked to low dopamine levels, if you are experiencing tremors or other possible symptoms.
Tell your doctor if you use drugs or have abused drugs in the past.Drug abuse may cause a decline in the level of dopamine receptors and dopamine release in the body. Be honest with your doctor about any recreational drugs you have taken or are currently taking, and how regularly this has occurred. A history of heavy drug use is a strong indication of low dopamine levels.
- Damage caused by drug abuse has also been shown to make it harder for individuals to experience the positive effects of dopamine in their bodies.
Describe your diet to your doctor, which may indicate a dopamine deficiency.A high protein diet will usually result in high levels of dopamine. Alternatively, frequent consumption of sugar and saturated fats can lower dopamine in your body. Tell your doctor what you eat on an average day so they can gauge what your dopamine levels may be.
- Obesity has been linked to low dopamine levels.
See a mental health professional to diagnose dopamine-related mental illnesses.While there is no proof that dopamine deficiency causes depression, schizophrenia, or psychosis, it has been linked to them. If you experience symptoms of low dopamine or of these illnesses, ask your doctor to refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist as soon as possible. If you are diagnosed with one of these conditions, it is very likely that your dopamine levels are low.
- Symptoms of depression include sadness, irritability, lethargy, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and in some cases, suicidal thoughts.
- Common symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis include hallucinations, delusions, impaired communication skills, and unpredictable agitation.
Boosting Dopamine Levels
Discuss treatment options for related illnesses with your doctor.If your doctor diagnoses you with a dopamine-related illness such as Parkinson’s disease, ask them about your treatment options. They may recommend medications to manage the symptoms of these conditions. In turn, these treatments may help to boost your dopamine levels.
- For instance, your doctor may prescribe carbidopa-levodopa for your Parkinson’s disease, a medication containing a natural chemical that is converted into dopamine in your brain.
Get regular exercise to increase the release of dopamine in your brain.If you do not enjoy vigorous exercise, start small by doing low-impact exercises like walking or yoga. Plan activities with friends or family that you will look forward to, such as a weekend hike, softball game, or dance class. The more you exercise, the more dopamine your body will release, increasing your energy and motivation to work out.
- Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
Get 7- 8 hours of sleep a night to help your body produce dopamine.Your brain needs energy to recharge its neurotransmitters, as a lack of sleep can hinder that. To ensure adequate dopamine levels, keep a regular sleep schedule that provides you at least 7 complete hours of rest. Avoid sleeping for more than 8 hours, which can also drain your dopamine levels.
Increase your intake of magnesium in food or supplement form.A deficiency of magnesium in the body can cause a decrease in dopamine levels.Ask your doctor if magnesium supplements would be right for you, or add magnesium-rich foods to your diet such as nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables. Eat these foods raw, as magnesium is depleted in the process of heating and cooking them.
- Adult should get about 400 to 600 mg of magnesium per day.
Eat tyrosine-rich foods to boost dopamine.Tyrosine is a substance that your body uses to synthesize dopamine. Eat bananas at least a few times every week to get high levels of tyrosine. You can also eat foods that are high in phenylalanine, an amino acid that your body converts to tyrosine.
- Phenylalanine-rich foods include almonds, cherries, apples, watermelon, yogurt, eggs, and beans.
- If you do not eat these foods regularly, ask your doctor if tyrosine supplements would be right for you.
Reduce your stress level as much as possible to increase dopamine levels.Excessive stress is associated with dopamine deficiency. While you can't avoid all stress, do your best to manage it to avoid its negative impact.You can reduce your overall stress by:
- Exercising at least 20-30 minutes a day.
- Doing 10-15 minutes of mindful meditation each day.
- Staying connected with friends and family in real life or over social media to avoid feelings of isolation.
- Listening to relaxing music.
- Laughing as much as possible by joking with friends or watching comedy shows.
- Some research suggests that vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids may help to boost dopamine levels but no specific link has been proven.
- Spending time in the sun may also boost dopamine levels, but you should be sure to wear an SPF sunblock to prevent the risk of skin cancer.
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