Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is commonly known as the “feel good” factor, as its primary function is linked to the pleasure and reward responses.
Its what keeps us motivated to achieve our dreams and goals, and deepest desires.
However if our levels are too high or too low, it can cause symptoms, if too high can lead too schizophrenia, or if too low can cause Parkinson’s disease.
What is dopamine and how does it effect you?
1. Released for reward seeking behavior
Dopamine boosts the anticipation of pleasure, so when we ever come across something in life that we find rewarding. The brain releases more, therefore we look forward to doing the activity again, seeking more fun and pleasure.
These include enjoyable experiences like sex, video games, eating food and drugs too which stimulate release, so enhances the expectation of pleasure.
2. Improves memory and learning
Dopamine effects the brain too, it helps with memory and learning, as it is crucial for long term memory storage and retrieval, this reminds you of important events that have motivational importance to you.
It also plays a big role in your working memory, to use information from short term memory to guide your actions.
3. Increases your drive
Dopamine gives us the motivation to do things we like, as the internal drive, as we know that certain things will be worth it and be rewarding.
It is the chemical that is responsible for the reward seeking habit, your drive is a result of high levels.
If you have low levels of dopamine you are less likely to strive for your goals or dreams, and not really care about the rewards that come with it.
Dopamine also plays an important role in movement, as the basal ganglia, which is the the biggest and best sources of dopamine in the brain are brought in, it controls movement.
The basal ganglia requires dopamine at high levels to function properly. So if you have low levels, voluntary motions will be uncoordinated, which is a contributory factor in Parkinson’s disease.
5. Helps you stay awake
If you have higher levels in the brain, we tend to stay awake more, which is why you are awake in the daytime. On the the reverse, during the night the levels drop, and melatonin takes over, and this chemical makes you sleepy!
Apart from increasing our urges for exciting experiences, it is also released when you are faced with sad events, like when you have an argument with someone special to you.
If you choose the more unnatural way to increase your dopamine levels, such as drugs, it can decrease the dopaminergic function, and eventually lead to addiction.
Cocaine is a dopamine transporter blocker that competitively inhibits dopamine uptake to increase the presence of dopamine.
8. Mental illness
Abnormalities in levels of dopamine, either higher then normal or lower levels, can contribute to mental disorders and psychosis, including schizophrenia, social anxiety, social phobias and bipolar disorder.
Those with a bipolar disorder in a manic state, become hyper social as well as hypersexual, due to the high increase of dopamine.