Dopamine And Your Emotional Health – 3 Things You Must Know
Dopamine is a key player in emotional health. People who have poor dopamine levels can suffer from depression, social anxiety and lack of motivation. Regulation of this neurotransmitter is crucial for optimal mental and emotional health.
Dopamine is an important necessary neurotransmitter for our frontal lobe function in our brains and for us to feel connected and enjoyment with activities. Low dopamine contributes to a decrease in the reward mechanism of the brain and in return, often those people affected have a hard time becoming motivated to do anything. This over time can lead to feeling helpless and worthless about work, relationships and life.
Dopamine is involved in our learning process in two ways. Dopamine can excite the brain to allow intake of new information or lessen the brain to allow a higher level of focus and concentration. Low dopamine activity is commonly linked with learning disorders, alternatively, high dopamine activity is connected with hyper-social activity and psychosis.
In regards to hormones, two common issues happen, heavy menstrual cycles, low libido in females and low testosterone and the inability to gain muscle in males. This is due to dopamine stimulating luteinizing hormone (LH), a hormone that triggers the release of progesterone in females and testosterone in males. Dopamine can affect progesterone and testosterone levels and these can likewise affect dopamine activity.
Foods that can help impact dopamine levels are ones that contain high levels of phenylalanine (primarily animal products, meats, eggs etc). Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that we must get in our diets as our bodies cannot synthesize it.
L-DOPA also has an effect on the levels of testosterone. It was shown to prevent the decrease in testosterone levels in patients with Parkinson’s disease patients, and to increase the levels of the hormone in rats. This effect may be due to the dopaminergic inhibition of prolactin, which prevents decreases in the levels of luteinizing hormone and testosterone