by Emma Carpenter
Dopamine & Depression
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain that affects emotions, pleasure and pain. It’s also known as the “motivator molecule” because it is responsible for sending signals from your brain to your body, telling it what to do.When dopamine is low, we experience the symptoms of depression: low motivation, fatigue, depressed mood, etc.
Luckily, there are a handful of things you can do in your daily lives to increase your dopamine levels naturally. Not surprisingly, most of them are related to diet and physical activity
How to Increase Dopamine Levels:
Increase foods rich in tyrosine (needed to make dopamine) like eggs, avocado, bananas, fish, almonds, chicken
Make yourself exercise for at least 20 minutes a day. It can start out as just a walk through the neighborhood
Listen to happy, upbeat music. Studies show that music increases feelings of pleasure aka dopamine
Increase B12 and/or magnesium. B12 helps turn food into energy and magnesium deficiency is linked to low dopamine.
Hug someone you love for 20 seconds. We know from research that a 20 second hug releases both dopamine and serotonin while decreasing cortisol (stress hormone)
Cut sugar out of your diet as much as possible. We have all heard about how bad sugar is for us, it makes us feel sluggish. Reduce your sugar intake and you’ll start to see higher levels of energy and motivation
Pay attention to your gut. So much of our mental health is directly impacted by what’s happening in our guts. Crazy right? Dopamine creation is one of the things directly impacted by guy health. The easiest way to have good gut health is to take probiotics either through supplements of things like yogurt or kombucha
Soak up the sun. If you can go outside in the sunshine, that’s the best. However, many of us live in areas where Winter is a thing. Vitamin D supplements and Happy Lamps are good alternatives
Your doctor can test you for vitamin deficiencies or you can consult a nutritionist about dietary changes.
Emma Carpenter is an individual, family, and couples therapist in Philadelphia, PA. Emma supports individuals in overcoming their depression so they can live more full lives.