Dopamine determines how we feel pleasure. Also called the ‘feel-good hormone’, it affects our mood and how we feel about ourselves.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that your body makes and your nervous system uses to send messages between the nerve cells. That’s the reason why it is called a chemical messenger.
Dopamine is a big part of our human ability to think and plan things. It helps us strive, thrive, focus and find interesting things. Too much or too little of it may lead to health disorders. There is a dopamine Elisa kit that helps find out if dopamine exists in your body or not by examining urine or plasma.
Dopamine is born in the brain through a two-step process. First, it changes the amino acid tyrosine to a substance known as dopa and then finally into DOPAMINE.
The feel-good hormone affects your behavior and physical functions, such as:
- Blood vessel function
- Heart rate
- Control of nausea and vomiting
- Kidney function
What Is Dopamine’s Role In Mental Health?
It’s a little difficult to determine a single cause of most mental health disorders. However, they are many times connected to too much or too little dopamine in various parts of the brain. Some examples are mentioned below:
Dopamine And Depression
In order to fully understand the role of dopamine in depression, it’s essential to be aware of the four dopaminergic neurons, the dopaminergic pathways and how they connect to psychotic effects.
Antipsychotic drugs are being extensively used to block the pathways and are capable of producing both positive and negative effects. Here are 4 pathways:
- The mesolimbic pathway: It is composed of projections from the ventral tegmental area and connected with the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.
- The mesocortical pathway: It is a dopaminergic pathway that links the ventral tegmentum to the prefrontal cortex.
- The nigrostriatal pathway: 80% of the brain’s dopamine is enclosed in the nigrostriatal pathway which is involved in motor planning.
- The tuberoinfundibular pathway: Here, you will see that dopaminergic projection impacts the prolactin release. Projections span from the periventricular nucleus to the infundibular region in the hypothalamus.
Dopamine And ADHD
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a developmental disorder that increases an individual’s susceptibility to depression, accidental injury, substance abuse or even death. In many cases, it can be successfully treated with medications that naturally increase the dopamine level.
Although, it is not easy to determine what causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). One of the reasons could be, dopamine shortage. These issues arise because of genes. The ADHD drug, Ritalin works by boosting dopamine.
Dopamine And Schizophrenia
Pharmacological procedures support that an extremely active dopamine system may lead to schizophrenia. The symptoms consist of too much chemical in certain parts of the brain which includes: hallucinations and delusions. Whereas, a lack of it can result in less motivation and desire.
It’s medicines block dopamine receptors, D2 receptors and repress the schizophrenia symptoms from originating.
Dopamine And Drug Addiction
Many drugs such as cocaine may give birth to a quick increase of dopamine in your brain which satisfies your natural reward system in a way it should be. However, repetitive consumption of drugs increases the threshold for this pleasure which means you need to take more to get the exact high.
Regular consumption of drugs, on the other hand, makes your body incapable of producing dopamine in a natural way.
As you can see, dopamine plays a vital role in our lives. The neurotransmitter plays an important role in formulating memory structure, regulating sleep, focusing attention and controlling motor function.
If you are someone going through any mental health issue, you should speak to your mental health practitioner for a checkup.