Low dopamine can make you depressed

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Suzy Cohen

Some people feel so bad they want to die, but don’t follow through because they lack motivation. Is that you?

You may have been taught to equate depression with serotonin deficiency. But in fact, people with that type of depression don’t usually wish to die. Those with low dopamine might wish to, though.

Dopamine deficiency will cause you to wake up sluggish in the morning, usually with brain fog, but you might feel happier and suddenly more enthusiastic with a “hit” of some sort, perhaps a cup of coffee.

Low dopamine causes a different kind of depression from low serotonin, one that is hallmarked by a lack of pleasure. Serotonin deficiency makes life less optimistic, and it’s like the glass is always half empty.

Dopamine-related depression forces you to need a “hit” of something sugary, or caffeinated. It may manifest itself differently in different folks. Some women want to go shopping; men may want to gamble.

Dopamine deficiencies affect more than mood. Most of us don’t think about the effort it takes to get up out of a chair, walk, hold a glass of water or write. We take those things for granted. But difficulties here may point to damage in the substantia nigra, a part of your brain where dopamine is made.

Tremors and balance problems, trouble with planning, and slower thinking processes are all issues that individuals with Parkinson’s disease struggle with. Parkinson’s disease is due to abnormally low dopamine levels, compounded with high levels of inflammation chemicals in the brain.

Consider the following if you have these symptoms of depression and want to feel better:

1) Quell the free radicals in your body with antioxidants

2) Consider and discuss the use of dopamine-lifting supplements

3) Check thyroid hormone levels properly, following the instructions for testing as well as the lab values I recommend in my book, Thyroid Healthy.

4) Opt for a healthier diet, not the Standard American Diet (which I call SAD), which increases free radicals. 

Your microglial cells (immune cells in the brain) fight an uphill battle when there is inflammation there. At first it may be subtle, but over time, the cerebral edema erodes your health. 

Don’t squirt any lighter fluid onto your hot outdoor grill. By that I mean, your brain is on fire, you may already have a diagnosis of depression or Parkinson’s, or you may be post-TIA or stroke — and still you do things (or eat foods) that light a fire on your brain.

Understanding this process is fundamental to improving mood and slowing neurological degeneration.

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This information is opinion only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Consult with your doctor before using any new drug or supplement.

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist and the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist and Real Solutions from Head to Toe. To contact her, visit www.SuzyCohen.com.