A dopamine deficiency can wreak havoc in your life causing fatigue, moodiness, insomnia and sugar cravings. A severe deficiency can lead to Parkinson’s disease that causes a degenerative decline of your motor skills and permanent muscle tremors. Dopamine controls movement, cognitive responses, and emotions and it’s vital to maintain sufficient levels for both mental and physical wellbeing.
What is Dopamine Deficiency?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for sending out signals between the body and the brain. It is also referred to as the motivation molecule. Dopamine is needed for focus, drive, memory, and to be able to experience pleasure. When dopamine levels are low, it impacts vital brain functions that are needed to regulate memory, mood, concentration, and physical movement.
As symptoms continue, it affects your daily life and the ability to carry out normal tasks. It makes you unproductive and apathetic leaving you to feel a constant sense of dissatisfaction and without direction and ambition.
Before attempting to treat a dopamine imbalance, it’s important to understand what’s causing it. There are many factors that alter dopamine levels such as aging, general health condition, brain trauma, and other medical disorders, whether physical or mental.
Unhealthy lifestyles, long-term stress, substance addiction, and bad diets can severely affect your dopamine levels and hinder the functioning of dopamine receptors.
Dopamine Deficiency Symptoms
Because dopamine affects many brain functions, the physical symptoms can vary from person to person. However, these are some of the conditions that are associated with having low dopamine levels.
One of the most common symptoms of a dopamine deficiency is depression, chronic boredom, lack of interest in daily activities, and low energy levels. Generally, you feel demotivated and unenthusiastic to do anything. A dopamine deficiency suppresses normal feelings of pleasure, which can result in fluctuating moods and overall gives you a sense of hopelessness and unhappiness.
Rapid Weight Gain
As a way to seek out satisfying behaviors, you can turn to satiate yourself with sugar and foods high in saturated fats. Eating out of boredom or as a way to find pleasure can lead to rapid weight gain, which is exacerbated by the lack of wanting to do exercise and feeling constantly tired. Studies show that highly processed foods deplete dopamine and inhibit dopamine activity.
Erratic Sleep Patterns
Being unable to fall asleep, oversleeping and then struggling to wake up the next morning can be attributed to a deficiency in essential minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium, which in turn affects the production of dopamine. Dopamine is also needed to produce the sleep-wake hormone, melatonin, and reduction in all these elements turns into a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and sleeping too much.
Low Sex Drive (Libido)
Having a dopamine deficiency numbs the sensation of feeling pleasure. If you cannot obtain any gratification, it affects your desire to be intimate and a decrease in libido. With low dopamine in the body, there is also a dulling of pleasure. Dopamine is a key moderator of human sexual behavior and neurotransmission is vital for sexual arousal and activity.
Low dopamine levels affect your ability to focus on and finish tasks. You cannot concentrate, think rationally, and remember small details. It hinders your ability to start daily activities and promotes the tendency to delay doing things and feelings of not being able to cope with life in general.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that affects muscle control, balance, and movement and is strongly linked to the loss of dopamine being produced in the brain. It can also cause restless leg syndrome as a dopamine imbalance causes weakness and the inability to control seizures and muscle tremors.
Symptoms of a dopamine deficiency are broad so it may be easy to pick out a few symptoms and self-diagnose leading you to think you need treatment. But the only way to get an official diagnosis is by seeing a doctor if you suspect your dopamine levels are low. A doctor will do a health examination and may carry out urine or blood tests to confirm a deficiency.
If you think you have a dopamine deficiency, you can first look at altering your lifestyle habits as a way to increase dopamine naturally. Certain substances and behaviours such as recreational drugs, video games, gambling, and sugar inundate the system with unnatural levels of dopamine. For example, the 3 MMCs are thought to produce its effects by promoting the release of dopamine and serotonin.
It becomes harder to reach these levels of pleasure, which turns the behaviors into addictions. Dopamine receptors are sensitive and overstimulation causes downregulation, which makes the dopamine receptors less responsive. Eliminating or controlling these patterns can help balance the dopamine while increasing exercise and nutrient-rich foods to stimulate dopamine in a healthier way.
Taking dopamine-enhancing supplements can also help improve brain and mental health. Probiotics, vitamins D and C, omega-rich oils, ginseng, magnesium, and protein are just some of the nutrients that can help with dopamine levels.
Prescribed Medical Therapies
If your doctor confirms you have a dopamine deficiency, they may suggest counselling, psychotherapy, physical therapy, or in some cases, dopamine medication. The doctor will first determine if there are any underlying conditions before prescribing treatment.