Low dopamine levels leave you lethargic, moody, and uninterested in doing any work in restless legs syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. But if these physical issues are not present and you feel unmotivated all the time, you could engage in activities that increase dopamine levels.
Exercise, massage therapy, meditation, positive social interaction, and a healthy diet are the five healthy ways to fix low dopamine levels naturally. Additionally, these activities don’t have any adverse side effects and will have long-term benefits for your body.
So, if you are experiencing anxiety, feeling low, unmotivated, or addiction, you better keep reading. Learn how fixing low dopamine levels naturally can affect your overall health and functioning.
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in mood regulation, particularly in stimulating the feelings of reward. In addition, it is often associated with motivation and focus. Hence, it also influences mental health conditions like depression.
Moreover, having too much or low dopamine levels can lead to health issues such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, or psychosis.
What Causes Dopamine Deficiency?
Dopamine is released in some regions of your brain as a neurotransmitter. Consequently, low dopamine levels could cause some injuries in the areas of your brain that produce this “feel good” hormone.
Here are some of the causes that reduce dopamine receptors in your brain:
- sleep deprivation
- saturated fats
- excessive caffeine and sugar intake
- poor nutrition
- drug addiction or abuse
Your lifestyle impacts the production of dopamine in your brain. An unhealthy environment or activities could disrupt the normal functioning of these systems in the body if you ignore them.
Effects of Dopamine Deficiency
Some adverse effects of dopamine deficiency are mood swings, lack of motivation and sex drive, low self-esteem, anxiety, addiction, depression, mental health disorders, self-harming or suicidal thoughts, and delusional behavior.
According to Into Action Recovery, low dopamine levels can have adverse physical and psychological effects.
Moreover, dopamine is the “feel-good” chemical that tells the brain if the experience is pleasurable enough to have it again. Otherwise, a lack of dopamine can trigger your brain to find ways to produce more of this. Hence, this can lead to addiction.
Thus, pursuing pleasurable activities triggers the reward center in the brain to have more, regardless if they are toxic or not, such as excessive screen time, playing video games, or gambling.
Low Dopamine Physical Symptoms
Low dopamine symptoms can include a lack of enthusiasm for things you usually enjoy and are interested in. Plus, having low dopamine may have a low sex drive. You may also experience physical troubles such as insomnia, tremors, muscle spasms, stiffness, and difficulty moving.
How To Test Low Dopamine?
You can test for low dopamine levels by taking a Dopamine Blood Test. This test measures the dopamine level in your body responsible for some brain functions such as movement, memory, behavior and cognition, pleasurable reward, attention, sleep, mood, and learning.
In addition, abnormal levels of dopamine are associated with addiction and can be the cause of physical and mental impairments. This is because dopamine is a significant body chemical with many body functions.
Thus, this is also recommended for those people with sudden symptoms of high blood pressure(hypertension), sweating, flushing, severe headache, rapid heart rate or palpitations, and tremors.
5 Ways To Boost Low Dopamine Levels
Instead of making unhealthy habits of feeling good and happy in the short term. Here are five ways how to increase dopamine naturally:
Research shows that exercise improves mood and cognitive functions. Aside from serotonin, dopamine is one of the happy chemicals released in the brain during exercise.
That is to say, dopamine is a crucial neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, motivation, reward, attention, and problem-solving skills.
A study published in the Official Publication of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America concluded that regular aerobic exercise could regulate happy hormones and serve as an effective antidepressant for adults diagnosed with major depression.
To put it simply, regular physical activity can rewire the chemicals in your brain and naturally produce happy hormones such as dopamine without relying on any medication.
Massage therapy has beneficial effects on different medical conditions such as depression, autism, skin conditions, arthritis, hypertension, and many more.
Furthermore, participants of the massage therapy research experienced more positive effects in several forms of massage, such as Swedish or Thai massage. This is due to pressure receptors stimulation provided by massage therapy. As a result, this enhances the vagal activity and reduces cortisol levels.
Another study PubMed concluded that conducting massage therapy increased the activating neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. As a result, there was an average increase of 28% in serotonin and a 31% increase in dopamine.
Meditation is generally considered a healthy practice without any side effects. Many people are practicing meditation because of its positive impact on their well-being, such as reduced anxiety levels, feeling of relaxation, peace, and calm.
Several studies have been made regarding the benefits of mindfulness. For example, one study shows increased dopamine levels just by practicing mindfulness meditation. Additionally, there was a 65% increase in endogenous dopamine release in the brain as per the study.
Practicing a self-stimulating reward system like mindfulness meditation is an advantageous step in how to raise dopamine naturally without depending on any drugs.
4. Social Interaction
Social interaction is essential for us human beings. We could all agree that we feel good whenever we interact with people, especially those we are fond of.
A study has shown that social interaction releases oxytocin. Consequently, this chemical also stimulates dopamine release in the brain.
Additionally, social interaction plays a vital role in our mental health, especially with those people diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression.
So, if you feel anxious, lonely, or overstressed, talking or sharing your problems with someone helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Hence, we naturally thrive when we are loved, accepted, safe, and have a sense of belongingness and purpose.
5. Healthy Diet
A healthy diet affects our brain functions. This plays a vital role in an emotional and cognitive process that promotes mental fitness.
On the contrary, binge-eating is one common reflex nowadays, especially when we feel stressed out. However, we tend to consume food that is high in calories, fats, and sugar that increase dopamine levels in the brain. We even have our comfort food, but not all comfort brings positive impacts.
Americans with unhealthy diets suffer from major health issues. Consequently, this disrupts the areas in your body that release dopamine. Thus, the chance of experiencing low dopamine symptoms increases as well.
There are healthy foods that increase dopamine levels naturally.
Everyday Foods That Boost Dopamine
1. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are healthy food alternatives to boost brain function. For example, apples contain an antioxidant that preserves dopamine in your brain called quercetin.
Nuts are rich in vitamin B6, which helps dopamine production. For instance, almonds are high in protein and low in saturated fats. As a result, they produce tyrosine that stimulates dopamine.
3. Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate has antioxidant properties that protect us from oxidative stress. Hence, stress reduces dopamine production in your brain.
Eggs are also a nutritional powerhouse that stores folate and nine essential amino acids. It produces tyrosine and phenylalanine that the body cannot produce.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and B vitamins needed for the production of dopamine.
There are a lot of distractions and pleasurable things and activities that are presented to us. However, some of these are unhealthy habits that are detrimental to our overall well-being.
If you have been feeling anxious, unmotivated, or depressed for an extended period, it is practical to seek professional help.
Do not be embarrassed. Mental health is as crucial as physical health. Thus, we need to pay attention to it and do things to make ourselves healthy holistically.
Hence, there is no quick fix to having a healthy body and a sound mind. Instead, you must take action to live a happy and healthy life.