How To Increase Dopamine Food Supplements And Medications That Help
By Sarah Fader
Updated October 14, 2019
Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Dopamine is one of the chemicals in your brain that makes you feel happy. Happiness is an important part of wellbeing, so it's worth making sure you have enough dopamine in your system. If you want to pursue natural ways to feel happier, read on to learn some surprising ways to give yourself a boost.
What Dopamine Does in The Brain
Dopamine has an important job in the brain. It's a neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain cells. These messages can please you and give you a rewarding feeling. This amazing chemical also has roles in memory, attention, movement, mood, sleep, and motivation.
If you don't have enough dopamine, medical and psychological problems can result. The death of dopamine-producing cells can even bring on Parkinson's and a few other diseases. What can you do about it? You may be able to increase your dopamine with the help of a doctor or even on your own.
What Happens When You Have Too Little Dopamine?
Identifying a dopamine deficiency is the first step to boosting your supply or getting medical treatment for the condition. You may feel the effects of a lack of dopamine without realizing that's the source of your problem. Dopamine deficiency may be caused by lack of proper nutrition, thyroid problems, or some medications.
According to medical experts, the body's inability to regulate dopamine is the leading cause of major depression. Things begin to go wrong in your body and your mind when you don't have enough of this vital chemical. The following are symptoms of low dopamine:
- Low motivation
- Low sex drive
- Sleep problems
- Mood swings
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty completing tasks
- No feelings of pleasure
Is It Possible to Increase Dopamine?
The good news is that these symptoms can be eased or even eradicated by lifestyle changes or medication. You can increase your dopamine levels. You may need to ask your doctor about drugs that increase dopamine, but you can also learn how to increase dopamine naturally through better food choices and supplements.
How To Increase Dopamine Naturally
Would you like to know how to increase dopamine naturally? If so, it will be helpful to learn the ways that food, supplements, and other natural methods can increase dopamine without medication.
Foods That Increase Dopamine
A simple way to increase dopamine is through the foods you eat. Renowned lifestyle coach Dr. Oz even promotes the "Dopamine Diet." You can start a similar diet by looking at what you eat every day. Keep a food diary for a week, and check it against these recommendations.
Foods that quickly affect your emotions excite your dopamine reward system. When this system gets lit up too frequently, it begins to fail, causing you to want more and more of whatever is giving you that feeling. Foods to avoid include are refined sugars and unhealthy fats.
But all eating increases dopamine. The real question is what can you eat to increase dopamine levels without overstimulating your reward system?
Increase Dopamine Production
Tyrosine is an amino acid that aids in dopamine production. This amino acid is present in many kinds of food and has even been used to treat stress. Any foods that contain tyrosine may help increase dopamine in your system.
- Red Beets
Eggs offer an added bonus in that they increase both dopamine and serotonin. Fish, apples, kale, oregano oil, and green tea also have components that aid in the production of dopamine.
Timing is important, too. You need to eat regular meals to avoid disrupting the hormones that regulate your appetite. Choose high-quality, high-nutrient foods. Get plenty of fruits and vegetables as well to give your body and brain all they need to work properly.
Exercise Increases Dopamine
If you're interested in learning how to increase serotonin and dopamine naturally, consider the benefits of exercise.
Serotonin, another brain chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter, helps moderate the reward/punishment system alongside dopamine. When serotonin and dopamine are well-balanced, you don't get carried away with pleasure-seeking, nor do you become too disinhibited.
Exercise increases dopamine, but dopamine also increases your ability to exercise, so it creates a positive cycle. In other words, the more you move, the more you're able to move. At the same time, exercise increases serotonin.
Supplements to Increase Dopamine
While you can naturally increase dopamine with food and exercise, supplements can give you an extra boost. Tyrosine supplements help the most because that important amino acid helps your body produce dopamine.
Gingko Biloba not only helps with dopamine production, but it also increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain. This enhances the transmission of signals in the brain, allowing the dopamine you do have to work better.
Phenylalanine supplements help, too, because this amino acid makes tyrosine. In addition, iron is needed for dopamine production, but it's important not to get too much. If you feel you have an iron deficiency, talk to your doctor about whether you need an iron supplement first.
Other supplements to consider include:
- L-theanine found in green tea
- John's Wort
- Huperzine A
- Clary sage
- Fish oil
- Lactobacillus Plantarum
Other Ways To Naturally Boost Dopamine Production
One way to keep your dopamine at a healthy level is to avoid substance abuse. When you expose yourself to drugs and alcohol regularly, you risk exhausting your dopamine system. Eventually, addictions make it very hard to increase dopamine naturally.
But your dopamine levels can increase naturally if you do something creative. You can also get that boost by breaking up large tasks into small goals. Every time you complete these mini-tasks, you'll get a small surge of dopamine. In addition, Meditation has been shown to increase dopamine as well as provide a wide range of other benefits.
Medications That Increase Dopamine
If your doctor determines that you have a severe dopamine deficiency, they might prescribe you a medication to increase your dopamine levels. Your doctor is always the best person to advise you on how to use on how to use this kind of medication safely.
Atypical antipsychotic drugs, such as olanzapine, clozapine, risperidone, and ziprasidone, increase dopamine in the cerebral cortex. Of course, you wouldn't want to take these drugs if you didn't need them. If you do need an antipsychotic drug, though, these drugs are better for dopamine regulation than typical antipsychotics like haloperidol.
Some drugs that act as antidepressants, including fluoxetine, imipramine, desipramine, buspirone, and clomipramine, may also work by increasing dopamine levels. However, fluoxetine can increase your symptoms if you have Parkinson's Disease.
Because inflammation decreases dopamine, taking non-inflammatory drugs prescribed by your doctor can help keep your dopamine levels up when you're sick or in pain.
What Would Happen If I Got Too Much Dopamine?
Getting too much dopamine is possible. As already mentioned, addictions happen when drugs or alcohol cause extreme fluctuations in dopamine levels. High dopamine levels are also associated with drug-induced schizophrenia and psychosis. Furthermore, you may get gangrene in your fingers and toes if your dopamine levels are too high. This is unlkely, but it's better to be careful.
High levels of dopamine can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Skin irritation
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness
- Blue skin
- Swelling of face, throat, or tongue
- Heart arrhythmia
- Menstrual disorders
- Decreased immunity
- Increased impulsivity
- Increased need for instant gratification
How Better Help Therapy Can Help Increase Dopamine Safely
Psychotherapy can improve your ability to feel pleasure as your depression eases. This happens when the dopamine in your brain moves more freely. Any psychotherapy that improves and stabilizes your mood can have this effect.
At BetterHelp, we provide a range of mental health support services through our qualified counselors. Our counselors have helped many people understand why they lack motivation or feel a bit down. Your feelings may be evidence of a dopamine deficiency. While you work to find chemical balance, you will want to make sure you find balance in your life as well. Talking to someone may be a vital part of your self-care and mental wellness. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
"Christine is an amazing counselor! She understands your problems and the line of thinking very fast and gives incredibly insightful and practical advice. I saw improvement really fast because I was able to actually implement the strategies that she taught me right away. If you want to work with a counselor who listens, understands, and actively supports, Christine is the right choice for you!"
"I have only worked with Allison for a few weeks, but she's been insightful, supportive, and I feel our sessions are active and progress focused. I'm really looking forward to continuing to work with her!"
Working on mental wellness can increase your dopamine right away. You don't have to live with the effects of low dopamine anymore. You can change your dopamine levels naturally. Talking to a counselor is one of the most effective ways to make that happen--take the first step.