What Causes Depletion Of Dopamine: Symptoms and Treatment

Dopamine is a chemical in brain which in medical literature is described as a neurotransmitter. It helps to send signal from one nerve cell to another. It is naturally produced in different parts of brain. Dopamine has wide range of functions to play in the central nervous system. It has its role in controlling the movement and emotions. It is a mood regulator and helps in various brain functions that include memory, mood, sleep, concentration etc. All these functions of brain are influenced by the amount of dopamine present in the body.

Deficiency of dopamine can lead to low mood, poor concentration and memory, feeling depressed and sad, feeling of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, muscle cramps etc. Dopamine depletion can develop due to many reasons such as emotional stress, alcohol withdrawal, nutritional deficiency, addictive drugs, etc. Treatment of dopamine deficiency will depend on the underlying cause. For example if the patient is suffering from depression, he may need anti depressant medicines to stabilize his mood. Physiotherapy, natural supplements that consist of omega3, magnesium and vitamin D also help to produce dopamine in case if the level has decreased.

Depletion Of Dopamine Causes

There are several factors that may contribute dopamine depletion in the body. Dopamine is a chemical that is naturally prepared in brain. It takes several steps to prepare this monoamine. The manufacturing process begins in liver with phenylalanine a type of amino acid (protein) present in foods. Phenylalanine is converted into tyrosine, another amino acid. Tyrosine is changed into L-dopa and it then becomes dopamine. During the synthesis various enzymes and elements such as iron, copper are utilized. The basic raw material that is phenylalanine comes from food. Hence if there is nutritional deficiency there is increased risk of dopamine depletion. Besides poor nutrition, several other factors such as emotional stress, alcohol withdrawal, obesity, living sedentary life, exposure to environmental toxins, drug addiction, lack of sleep etc all can cause deficiency of dopamine. Dopamine deficiency is linked with diseases such as depression and Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms When Depletion Of Dopamine Occurs

Following are the symptoms of dopamine deficiency. Dopamine depletion affects both at physical and mental level.

  • Depression and sadness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low physical energy
  • Rapid change of mood.
  • Increased craving for coffee and other stimulants.
  • Loss of weight
  • Sexual drive is reduced.
  • Tremors
  • Reduced motivation
  • Reduced concentration
  • Movement becomes slow
  • Constipation
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Tendency to sleep more
  • Withdrawal from social life.
  • Low self esteem
  • Hallucination and delusions
  • Increased thoughts of committing suicide.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There is no specific test that may help to determine the level of dopamine, but a general catecholamine test will be useful. It also helps to determine other important neurotransmitter levels. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter and its optimum level in brain helps it to function well. Dopamine deficiency may depend on the underlying condition. For example in certain diseases medicines may be required as in case of depression, patient may need anti depressants to uplift his mood and emotions. Same is the case with other psychiatric diseases where medicines may be required to reduce the symptoms. Besides medication, other measures include regular exercise for 30 minutes, eating healthy food such as fruits and vegetables, lean protein, fish, egg, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds etc. Foods that are rich in phenylalanine and tyrosine are beneficial to increase dopamine level naturally.