Dopamine is a chemical found naturally in the human body. It is a neurotransmitter, meaning it sends signals from the body to the brain. Dopamine plays a part in controlling the movements a person makes, as well as their emotional responses. The right balance of dopamine is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing.
Vital brain functions that affect mood, sleep, memory, learning, concentration, and motor control are influenced by the levels of dopamine in a person’s body.
Dopamine serves as the reward and pleasure center in the brain, and messenger of the sympathetic nervous system in the periphery. DOPAC and HVA are dopamine metabolites.
Dopamine is low in:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- anorexia nervosa
- periodic limb movement disorder
- sleep disturbances
- hypoadrenergic orthostatic hypotension
Dopamine improves attention, focus, and motivation, helps with decision making, modulates movement control, promotes lactation, increases blood pressure, urine output and sodium excretion, and allows for feelings of reward and pleasure. Dopamine also serves as the parent precursor to norepinephrine and epinephrine.
Research shows that urinary dopamine levels are elevated in patients with anxiety (Field et al., 2010), increased sodium intake (Gill, Jr. et al., 1991), mercury toxicity (Houston, 2011), primary aldosteronism (Ishiguro, et. al. 1995), post-traumatic stress disorder (Yehuda et al., 1992), and stress (Ghaddar et al., 2014).
Clinically, high dopamine is also associated with hyperactivity, inability to focus, mood swings, poor GI function, psychosis, and sleep disturbances.
Possible treatment options:
Cofactor support with ascorbic acid, magnesium, and SAMe to promote metabolism may be beneficial. Testing for mercury toxicity may be beneficial.
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