Everyone wants to function at their best. There are a lot of ways that people go about doing this – training every day, managing their schedule, raising a happy family. All these things help, but there’s a reason that they help. Doing things that makes you happy influences the release of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that are present in your brain.
One of the most important neurotransmitters is dopamine, and if you want to hack your life and be the best version of you, you might as well start from the ground up. This article will discuss how you can manage your dopamine levels.
What is dopamine?
Managing our dopamine levels is important. Also important is knowing what dopamine is.
It’s known by some people as the ‘happy chemical,’ and it’s one of the neurotransmitters that’s released during a runner’s high.
Dopamine, and other neurotransmitters, are basically messengers that float around the brain. They bind to parts of our brain cells, known as receptor sites (because they receive the message from the neurotransmitter), and when they bind to these sites, they cause a response.
It’s important to make sure that the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain are properly balanced. If they are not, you may experience over or under-stimulation of your neurotransmitter receptors. This can lead to all sorts of problems, both physical and mental.
Synthetic dopamine has been around since 1910. Scientists didn’t realize that our brain produced the compound on its own until much later, in 1958. That means that dopamine was being given as a drug or supplement before people recognized that we made the stuff ourselves!
What does dopamine do?
Dopamine is largely responsible for a person’s mood, their energy levels, their motivation, and many factors of their mental health. While it’s known as a feel-good chemical, it’s important to understand the other side of this coin: when dopamine levels are imbalanced, people often feel depressed, lethargic, and unmotivated.
Dopamine, and drugs that affect dopamine, can be used to treat a variety of conditions. They can help treat physical health problems like vascular disease, low heart rate and low blood pressure. They can also help to ease mental health problems like depression and ADHD (though people are beginning to realize that the potential side effects of doing this often outweigh the benefits. Most dopaminergic drugs prescribed for mental health problems are amphetamines or powerful stimulants which can lead to addiction and bad health.)
Dopamine can even be used to improve sexual health – mostly for men. It can increase libido, make it easier to get aroused, and it can reduce the male refractory period. It’s important to make sure that you don’t get carried away with using too much dopamine, though, because the side effects and long-term effects can be quite unpleasant.
Side effects of too much dopamine
Before we let you loose by explaining how you can increase your dopamine levels, it’s important that you understand what can happen if you have too much dopamine. There are a few things that occur when the brain is blasted with excessive dopamine.
Moderate side effects
These side effects can occur quite easily, even if a person is only using a regular amount of a natural dopamine supplement.
- Excessive stimulation and restlessness
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme sexual desire and urges
- Difficulty concentrating
Serious side effects
These tend to occur of a person is mega dosing with dopamine or another drug that influences the levels of dopamine in the brain.
- Psychosis and delusions, hallucinations (both can arise from sleep deprivation that can be caused by dopamine)
- Downregulation, a process by which the brain’s dopamine receptors essentially shrink back because they’re being overstimulated. This leads to tolerance (requiring more of your substance or activity to achieve the desired dopamine ‘hit’) and symptoms of withdrawal or cravings for these activities when you’re not engaged in them.
How can I get more dopamine?
There are many ways to boost your dopamine levels. Many people, unfortunately, find this out the hard way by using chemical drugs. While these are certainly an effective way to blast your brain with dopamine, there are some unpleasant and life-threatening side effects that can occur with unregulated drug use.
The good news is that there are other ways to raise your dopamine levels. We’ll give you the scientific lowdown on how you can manage your dopamine levels, so you can be the best person that you can!
The most important thing to recognize here is that dopamine should be respected, and not abused. Many people fall into addictive cycles – be it to drugs, supplements, exercise, sex, gambling, or anything else – because they can’t get enough of the dopamine rush. This can have a serious impact on the quality of your life, so be careful.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid. It’s also one of the precursors to dopamine, which means that your brain converts it into dopamine after you’ve consumed it. This is one of the easiest ways to directly raise levels of dopamine in your brain but be careful – this can be quite addictive.
Exercising on a regular basis is one of the best ways to ensure that your dopamine levels (and the levels of other neurotransmitters) remain balanced. Make sure you engage in at least light-to-moderate exercise daily to make sure your mental health stays stable.
Sleep is the time when the brain and body refresh itself. It’s necessary for the proper production and upkeep of all your neurotransmitters.
There are many herbal supplements that have done wonders for increasing dopamine levels. These include:
- Uridine monophosphate, which has been shown to upregulate dopamine receptors and repair those damaged by abusing dopamine drugs
- Mucuna pruriens, which provides the body with L-dopa, another precursor to dopamine
- Bacopa monnieri, an Ayurvedic herb which has been used for many thousands of years for its mental health benefits
Dopamine is one of the most important neurotransmitters, and if you want to function at your optimal level, you should learn how to maximize your dopamine levels.
There are many other ways to raise dopamine which can easily spiral out of control. The methods listed above are the healthiest and most reliable ways to improve your dopamine levels without losing control of yourself.