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6 Symptoms of Low Dopamine

Symptoms of Low Dopamine

low dopamineAre you often feeling depressed or experiencing frequent mood swings with an intense craving for certain foods?

If so, your brain might have insufficient levels of dopamine, and this can cause you to suffer from poor attention and cognitive function. When one compound is found deficient in your body, your bodily and brain functions may be compromised immediately. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of low levels of dopamine and having an understanding of its causes are extremely important.

Get to Know Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body and it serves to play important functions in the human body. It belongs to the families of the organic compounds Catecholamine and Phenylethylamine. Dopamine can be found in the Substantia Nigra of the human brain and nerve cells. They release it in the form of a chemical to transmit signals to other nerve cells. Dopamine plays a major role in the pleasure and reward pathway of the brain, as well as memory and movement control.

3 Things That Cause Low Levels of Dopamine?

1. Stress
Studies have shown that stress causes a decrease in the synthesis and secretion of dopamine in the brain, thus leading to low levels of dopamine being transmitted. Moreover, stress results in depleting adrenals. Check out some ways to manage stress here.

2. Drug use
The use of drugs has also been attributed to a dopamine deficiency. A street drug called Meperidine causes the dopamine neurons to breakdown, thus resulting in overall low dopamine levels. In addition, Cocaine prevents the breakdown of dopamine and continued use of such drugs can result in a reduction of dopamine receptors.

3. Poor nutrition
Researchers at Franklin Institute have found that poor nutrition can result in a dopamine deficiency. Foods and drinks such as caffeine, alcohol and sugar can cause a decrease in dopamine levels. Conversely, this can be counteracted with the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, as they act as antioxidants and prevent or reverse the damaging effects linked with low dopamine.

Other factors that may cause low dopamine levels include lack of sleep and the habitual use of antidepressants.

Dopamine and L-Tyrosine

L-Tyrosine is one of the 22 amino acids in the body used to build proteins. It is created through the synthesis of Phenylalanine and serves to maintain healthy communication between nerve cells. Phenylalanine in turn, is necessary in the production of Dopamine.

What will I experience when I have low Dopamine levels?

Having low levels of Dopamine in your brain could significantly alter your bodily functions and overall health. You might experience the following symptoms:

1. Depression
Depression is the principal symptom you experience when you have low levels of dopamine. This is also coupled with chronic boredom, loss of satisfaction, and apathy. Finally, you may start being pessimistic with the things and events around you and this can result in frequent mood swings.

2. Restless Legs Syndrome
An imbalance or a decrease of dopamine levels in the brain may result in Restless Legs Syndrome. RLS is characterized by an uncomfortable feeling in the legs, which includes itchy, pins and needles or creepy crawly sensations. This occurs because dopamine is responsible for sending messages for muscle control and a disturbance in dopamine levels can alter muscle performance. RLS also produces overall weakness and muscle tremors.

3. Oversleeping and Low libido
Oversleeping due to a dopamine deficiency is brought about by a decrease in certain nutrients such as iron, magnesium or zinc. Along with excess hours of sleep, you may experience a lack of motivation especially when performing exercises and in initiating activities. Moreover, low levels in dopamine results in procrastination. Other symptoms also include dullness of pleasure and lessened libido.

4. Rapid Weight Gain
Another symptom of a dopamine deficiency is cravings for sugar, sodas, alcohol, and saturated fats. Not only do these foods encourage inactivity and make you gain weight, but they also decrease dopamine levels and their activity in the brain.

5. Trouble Focusing
Due to feelings of sadness, there is a failure to regulate emotions which can eventually interfere with one’s ability to pay attention and remember things. This impairment in memory and thinking stops you from focusing on tasks.

6. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive central nervous system disease first described by James Parkinson in 1817. At the time, it was descriptively referred to as the shaking palsy or paralysis agitans. It is typically characterized by the cardinal signs of bradykinesia, resting tremor, rigidity, and postural instability. The disease may also cause a variety of other symptoms including movement and gait disturbances; sensory changes; speech, voice, and swallowing disorders; cognitive and behavioural changes; ANS dysfunction; gastrointestinal changes, and cardiopulmonary changes.
A continuous decrease in dopamine levels in the Substantia Nigra in the brain could definitely contribute to the development of Parkinson’s Disease.

What can I do to increase my Dopamine levels?

A healthy diet can greatly benefit you and help your brain cells produce sufficient amounts of dopamine. Phenylalanine is an amino acid necessary for the production of dopamine and can be found in foods such as: almonds, chocolates and eggs. Bananas are also helpful in raising dopamine levels by increasing another amino acid called Tyrosine, which also increases dopamine levels. Moreover, apples are rich in antioxidants that prevent dopamine cells from damage.

To recap, Lifestyle modifications can significantly improve and increase dopamine levels. This includes exercising, avoiding stress, and staying away from activities that lower dopamine levels. Also, supplementation is a common practice in addressing low dopamine levels; you should contact your physician first. Other common supplements to increase dopamine include L-Phenylalanine and Vitamin B6. Alternatively we have a list of supplements that improve your mood and stress reducing supplements also.


References: Restless Legs Syndrome

Health and Nutrition Tips: Dopamine Deficiency

Medical Health Tests: Dopamine Test

University of Maryland Medical Center: Parkinson’s Disease Introduction

The Dana Foundation: Parkinson’s Disease: A Paradigm Shift

Adderall Crash

Adderall Crash

Adderall Crash

Why do some people who consume Adderall also consume L-Tyrosine as an added supplement? Do they really synergize the effects of one another? Let’s take a closer look at these two supplements and find out why they are a great combination indeed.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a single-entity amphetamine product that combines the neutral sulfate salts of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, with the dextroisomer of amphetamine saccharate and d, l-amphetamine aspartate monohydrate. Since it is an amphetamine, Adderall acts as a Central Nervous System stimulant and is thought to block the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine into the presynaptic neuron and therefore, increase the release of these monoamines into the extraneuronal space. 1

Moreover, Adderall is a prescription drug and is regarded as a controlled substance in the US. In other words, those interested in using the substance cannot just purchase it over the counter. Instead, they must obtain a legitimate prescription from their doctor and then proceed to purchasing it. Since Adderall use can lead to dependence and can potentially be abused, a prescription is absolutely necessary.


Adderall and ADHD

Adderall has been regarded as the mainstay medication for the treatment of ADHD. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a chronic neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorder, considered to have neurobiologic origins. It is diagnosed on the basis of the number, severity, and duration of three clusters of behavioral problems: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is the most commonly diagnosed behavior disorder in children. ADHD was originally called minimal brain damage, then minimal brain dysfunction, and in the mid-1900s the term hyperkinetic reaction of childhood was given to the symptoms. It most commonly affects men and has a high rate of heritability.

Although the exact etiology of ADHD is unknown, a combination of organic, genetic and environmental factors is thought to be involved. A variety of factors put a child at risk for symptoms of ADHD:

  • ADHD is seen more often in children who have family members with ADHD, especially the father, the brother or an uncle.
  • There is also an increased incidence of substance abuse, conduct disorders, learning disabilities, depression, and antisocial personality disorder in families of children with ADHD.
  • Chromosomal or genetic abnormalities such as fragile X syndrome have been implicated with ADHD. A sex-linked factor may be operating because the disorder is much more common in boys than girls.
  • Other risk factors include exposure to toxins or medications, perinatal complications, chronic otitis media, head trauma, meningitis, neurologic infections, and mental disorders such as the affective disorders.


Pathophysiology of ADHD

The neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine are implicated in the pathophysiology of ADHD. In some children, there may be an absence or insufficiency of these neurotransmitters.

The preceding neurotransmitters normally occur in high concentrations in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in reward, risk taking, impulsivity, and mood. Norepinephrine modulates attention, arousal and mood.


  • It is hypothesized that children who lack these neurotransmitters experience learning difficulties in reading, math, and language, and are prone to impulsivity.
  • The fact that some children with ADHD display decreased symptoms in stressful situations (such as in the doctor’s or principal’s office) provides additional support for this theory, because stress increases the level of norepinephrine.


Another neurochemical theory suggests that:

  • The symptoms result from an excess of norepinephrine and/or alteration in the reticular activating system of the midbrain, an area that controls consciousness and attention.
  • This excess abnormality interferes with the function of filtering extraneous stimuli. Consequently, children are unable to focus on one stimulus and are compelled to respond to every stimulus in the environment.

Other theories suggest that symptoms of ADHD result from:

  • Dysfunction in the brain circuits of the behavioral inhibition system
  • Structural abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex, caudate, and thalamus
  • A gene variant known to code for a receptor for dopamine. 2

Adderall may help a person with ADHD pay more attention, concentrate, and stop fidgeting.

What is L-Tyrosine?

Tyrosine is one of the nonessential amino acids in the body and is made from phenylalanine, another amino acid. It is regarded as the building block of protein and can be found in our diet, especially in dairy products, meats, eggs, fishes, and beans. Tyrosine is crucial for the brain’s neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine (for proper neuronal communication and regulation of mood). Tyrosine also aids in the production of melanin and in the proper functioning of organs responsible for making and regulating hormones. 3


Adderall and L-Tyrosine

At present, it is a common practice to take L-Tyrosine when using Adderall. This is mainly because Adderall may cause withdrawal reactions that L-Tyrosine may address. When taken in high doses or in a long duration of time, Adderall may cause severe tiredness, sleep problems, changes in mood and depression. Despite the benefits that Adderall provides, this medication may cause one to become dependent and addicted to it. 4

Adderall can intensify the release of neurotransmitters in the brain and can address problems such as ADHD however, when the storage of these neurotransmitters are used up, low feelings, exhaustion, and a reduced amount of energy the following day may result; this is referred to as Adderall Comedown. With this scenario, users may notice problems with focus and attentiveness, even more than people who have ADHD. L-Tyrosine on the other hand, can counteract this Adderall Crash. Since it acts as a pre-cursor to the preceding neurotransmitters, it can help replenish the levels of those chemicals. It is recommended that L-Tyrosine is taken the day after consuming Adderall, as it can prevent you from experiencing the after effects of Adderall or having the Adderall crash.

If you are supplementing you should definitely consider using Trackmystack as a “nootropic tracker” to manage the effectiveness of your medical stack. To see what others nootropics others are taking you can see the nootropic stack list here.


Silliman University Institute of Rehabilitative Sciences Book Compilation Batch 2014.