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Dopamine

Generally, it is often commented on the benefits of serotonin against mood, or conversely, depression. However, it is also important to know a little more about dopamine , since it has an important function in the spaces of the brain, that is, the microscopic spaces where cells make connections with each other.

Surely you have asked yourself: What are its functions? How can it help you? Is it possible to increase their levels? Are you hiding some benefits? If so, do not stop reading until the end because in this interesting article you will be able to clarify all your doubts; And what will be even better, take action to stay healthier . Here we reveal the most interesting information about dopamine

What is dopamine?

The first thing you should know is what dopamine really is; In this sense, we can make it clear that it is a chemical neurotransmitter, a kind of messenger from the central nervous system , that is, to the brain. Therefore, its correct functioning is necessary for the good social development of the human being.

In more detail, dopamine is a substance that is produced in various parts of the brain, but is widely secreted from the midbrain area. But in addition, it has other characteristics, since it is also a hormone that is released by the hypothalamus when it comes to inhibiting the production of prolactin.

Where is the dopamine?

The highest levels of dopamine or as it is also known, dopaminergic neurons, is found in the ventral tegmental area, that is, in the substantia nigra and the hypothalamus. From there, dopamine uses 4 communication pathways to reach the rest of the brain , such as:

  • Mesocortical pathway: Transports dopamine from the ventral tegmental area to the frontal cortex.
  • Mesolimbic pathway : Transports dopamine from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens.
  • Nigrostriatal pathway: Transports dopamine from the substantia nigra to the striatum.
  • Tuberoinfundibular pathway : Transports dopamine from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland.

What is the role of dopamine?

There are really many functions that dopamine has , but among the most outstanding are the following:

  • Heart rate and pressure increase.
  • Regulates sleep.
  • Stabilizes motor activity and attention span.
  • Regulates memory and problem solving.
  • Activates the good mood and the feeling of pleasure.

But so that you have a clearer notion about its functions, we can tell you that dopamine is considered the nucleus of pleasure, since it is a main neuron to regulate motivation and desire. That is, it allows you to repeat those behaviors that provide you with pleasure or well-being . Of course, it is released from positive and negative stimuli, in order to achieve what we want, or on the contrary, avoid it if it is unpleasant.

However, there is a fundamental role of dopamine and it is against the regulation of learning, specifically with learning by conditioning. Which means that these dopaminergic neurons act effectively when they are prompted for some reward or stimulus ; But when any of these conditions are missed, that’s when neurons get depressed. Without a doubt, a key system for the learning process.

How to increase the amounts of dopamine?

We all have dopamine in the human body, but at a variety of levels; however, the levels of these neurons may be very low . So what can you do? The first thing is to avoid or control stress , since this element greatly decreases dopamine.

It is also important to have control of sleep needs , which means that you must respect the hours of sleep, which should be positioned at a maximum of 8 hours a day at most. In this case, when you don’t sleep, your dopamine levels don’t go down, they increase , but leaving you with a completely unpleasant discomfort.

Another solution to keep your dopamine levels in excellent condition is the inclusion of cardiovascular exercises on a regular and moderate basis , as well as meditation, weight lifting, gymnastics, yoga, or any sports activity with which you feel comfortable but that invite you to be active.

For all this, diet is also very important, which is why many nutritionists recommend having a diet with abundant sources of antioxidants , such as vitamins C, E and magnesium. These elements can be seen more easily in foods such as kiwi, strawberries, carrots, nuts, broccoli, among others. In addition, it is recommended that you reduce the consumption of saturated fats such as flours, sugars and precooked foods.

In this sense, we want to highlight the fact of avoiding excessive consumption of coffee, since it is a substance that progressively affects the natural and normal reuptake of dopamine ; This is also the case with other addictive substances, such as the consumption of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and cigarettes.

Also, experiencing feelings of gratitude will boost dopamine levels, since you will be promoting happiness and well-being. To do this, you can give daily thanks for 3 things you want , and also help other people to have a more positive attitude, collaborate to carry out a difficult activity or simply give something to whoever needs it most.

What can also help you, although it is commonly repeated, is to enjoy the little things, like listening to your favorite song, because music turns out to be a wonderful mood enhancer , a meal or even a conversation with a person that motivates you.

In addition to this, do not forget to maintain a daily routine of all the things you must do, including the fact of sleeping and resting correctly. Sure, it will always be beneficial to make changes so as not to fall into monotony , but the order will be key to feeling satisfied at the end of the day and knowing that you could achieve everything you planned.

How does dopamine affect?

Over the years, there are many studies that have been carried out where it has been possible to determine that dopamine is complemented with the cognitive system of the human body , which further loosen those feelings of motivation in the face of various circumstances such as the ones you will learn now :

Personality

Believe it or not, certainly dopamine can be a key factor in determining whether you are an introvert or an extrovert , if you are one of those who face some problems more courageously or if, on the contrary, you are much more insecure.

This was determined by a study carried out in Germany, where an analysis was carried out on an individual who determined amounts of dopamine, which showed that the person was calm , without any uncertainties, with confidence. That is to say, it did not present stress.

Being overweight or obese

As is normal, given the diversity of tastes, it is normal that only some people enjoy a piece of chocolate in the same way; perhaps some feel much more pleasure than others when tasting.

In this sense, it is very recurrent that people who suffer from obesity or are overweight, do not have enough dopamine in the system, which means that they feel the need to ingest much more chocolate , for example, to increase satisfaction levels. More clearly, they are sensitive people to the tastes that a chocolate tasting can have.

Taste for strong emotions

Some people honestly enjoy some risks that others would be completely insane, such as parachuting, taking risks at work, or simply experiencing something extreme.

If so, according to a study conducted in 2014, it determined that when there is a large amount of dopamine in a person’s brain regions, they tend to face activities with greater expectation and remain optimistic about risk episodes, no matter how much. strong be.

Social position

With the use of some techniques that evaluate the neuroimaging of an individual, it was concluded that the better the social position of a person, the dopamine receptors found in the brain is much higher .

What notably determines that the individual is calm and satisfied with everything that surrounds him , and with the circumstances that surround him. Of course, stability should not always focus solely on the economic aspect.

Creativity

When a person is really creative, he can be attributed to low dopamine levels, specifically in the thalamus region. Why? Well, there the brain is empowered to filter all the stimuli it receives , which facilitates connections and greatly improves creativity.

Good memory

Without a doubt, memory is a brain function that is greatly influenced by dopamine, since this neuron focuses on regularizing the duration of the information located in the brain, that is, the memories; making the decision if it is retained for 12 hours and then disappears , or if it should be stored for a little longer. As if it were a computer.

So if you want some memories to last for a long time in your memory, you must activate yourself to keep dopamine levels in excellent condition , as they will be of great help to achieve it.

Motivation

It has always been said that dopamine should be related only to sensation and pleasure, however, recent studies have determined that dopamine is also of vital importance in motivation; since those people who are more focused on achieving their goals, have higher levels of dopamine in the body .

What diseases cause a lack or excess of dopamine?

As we have already been able to analyze, certainly dopamine levels can vary from one moment to another, therefore; You should know that when there is an imbalance in this neurotransmitter, there are many side effects that can occur , to the point of becoming a type of disorder. To find out what they are, don’t stop reading to the end.

In the absence of dopamine:

When this happens, the reasons for such a deficit can be many, such as a poor diet, consumption of some medications or psychotropic substances , structural problems, among others. And these are some of the diseases that are directly associated with low dopamine levels:

Depression: When there is little presence of dopamine in the human body, the mood is automatically altered, inclining the individual to feelings of sadness, demotivation, stress and even constant anguish.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: This psychopathology is projected mainly before the lack of concentration and attention; which is common with low dopamine levels. Generally, the individual does not find any type of motivation and significantly influences the quality of their learning.

Disease Parkinson : With it will progressively deteriorating dopaminergic neurons, which means that dopamine levels are reduced greatly with the passage of time. As a result of this, it is that people present the motor problems typical of the disease, since the necessary information is not sent to the muscles or to the coordination of movements.

Faced with excess dopamine:

Schizophrenia: Given the positive symptoms of this disease, such as delusions, hallucinations or cognitive disorganization, it is generally common to assign them to excessive levels of dopamine.

Bipolar disorder : According to some studies it has been determined that when a person has a lot of dopamine, and has already been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the presence of factors such as mania and hypomania is frequent.

How is dopamine measured?

Now, in order to determine what range we are in, it is necessary to measure dopamine levels, and for this the most punctual is by performing a blood or urine analysis ; although high pressure liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection in plasma would be the most accurate evaluation for this.

The correct or unstable values ​​of dopamine can be determined by a specialist, and from there the necessary recommendations will be made to maintain good health.

Does dopamine play a role in addictions?

The truth is that yes, since addictions change the natural configuration of the brain, in view of modifying or altering the sensations of pleasure , as well as the normal functioning of learning and motivation.

In that sense, the individual undergoes drug use, dopamine levels are automatically increased and, on the other hand, its elimination is naturally limited. This means that there is an excessive accumulation of dopamine in the body , which results in the creation of new dopamine receptors.

This means that to achieve the same pleasure effect that you are used to, you will need a lot more dopamine , a process known as tolerance. These are some of the addictions that you can have, outside of toxic substances.

  • Behavioral addictions

When talking about addictions, we are not referring only to toxic and psychotropic substances, there are also behavioral patterns that when performed in an unbalanced and disproportionate way, can generate effects very similar to those provided by a toxic substance .

This type of behavior is determined as impulse control disorders, and can refer to video game addiction, compulsive shopping, having sex , the need to eat, and storing unnecessary products, among others.

  • Social networks addiction

It is not a secret for anyone that technology has also allowed the entry of some social problems, and this is perfectly related to dopamine levels, since when we receive positive comments on our Facebook or Instagram social network , we receive likes or Following an expected person, we release dopamine almost immediately, as we feel positive pleasure and satisfaction in the face of such digital stimuli.

Now, addiction can be present when you want to anxiously repeat those feelings before the interactions in order to be well. Therefore , it is common to see people who despair at the refusal of not getting the likes or the number of followers they want.

recommendations

Whether you have high or low dopamine levels, it is not wise to practice self-medication to normalize the values. It is best to visit a trained specialist who can determine what state you are in and what the steps should be. There are few things that have no solution, and this time it is no exception.

However, you already have some basic tips on dopamine that will be of great help to stay healthy, in a good mood, and above all, with great pleasure .

And remember, don’t forget the following steps:

  • Maintain a good diet rich in vitamins and amino acids.
  • Do sports or exercise regularly.
  • Avoid situations of stress .
  • Enjoy healthy recreational activities.
  • Sleep and rest a maximum of 8 hours.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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