Obsessive anxiety, loss of motivation, emotional depression and pessimism – surely at least once in your life you had to deal with some of the listed manifestations. Disorders of this kind are able to permanently knock out rut and easily deprive you of interest in everything that happens around. In such circumstances, the world around us acquires gray, nondescript shades, and the usual sources of joy and pleasure for a long time lose their former attractiveness.
The feeling of happiness and satisfaction, motivation and personal effectiveness are largely determined by the proper operation of a special neurohormone – dopamine, which regulates a number of important processes in the brain.
How dopamine works
Dopamine (dopamine) is a hormone that is produced in the brain and adrenal glands. Among other neurotransmitters, dopamine is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses, through which brain nerve cells, neurons, communicate with each other. Due to this, dopamine regulates thinking, behavior and emotional reactions.
Dopamine is called the pleasure hormone. It allows you to experience the pleasure of contact with external stimuli. This may be food, shopping, sexual contacts, active recreation. Dopamine is capable of causing a complex of sensations of a rather wide spectrum: from moderate psychological comfort to unstoppable and dazzling euphoria.
In recent studies, neurophysiologists have managed to establish one very important pattern: dopamine begins to stand out before you receive an award. Moreover, dopamine is activated before the moment you begin to act. Thus, thanks to dopamine, a special internal sensation is formed in the brain, which can be defined as “pleasure from anticipation of reward”. It is the basis of motivation and ability to learn.
Motivation and performance
Waiting for pleasure or satisfaction lies at the heart of any motivational impulse. In this case, the reward can have both a material form (monetary reward, gift), and an intangible character (victory in the game, in intellectual opposition, moral satisfaction from helping others).
Thus, dopamine can be considered the biochemical basis of motivational potential, whatever it is associated with. The level of motivation determines such fundamental personal qualities as efficiency, perseverance, dedication and self-confidence.
Dopamine plays a crucial role in the learning process, the acquisition of new skills and habits. The fact is that the development of neurohormone depends on the effectiveness of your efforts, on how often you achieve a given result in a certain situation.
If the selected algorithm of actions with a high probability leads to obtaining the desired reward, then the level of dopamine will increase. Conversely, a large number of unsuccessful attempts will cause the opposite consequences: dopamine will gradually stop responding to specific stimuli, the motivation will slide to zero.
The described mechanism allows to sift out unpromising skills and in parallel to form useful skills and habits. In addition, it contributes to the assimilation and consolidation of fruitful patterns of behavior. In this way, there is a consistent accumulation of productive experience, which turns into rational life strategies. A person learns to make the right decisions and focus on the most significant and important processes and sources of information.
What causes dopamine synthesis disorders
For the body, both the fall and the uncontrolled growth of dopamine synthesis are equally dangerous. Such failures are primarily reflected in the psycho-emotional state of a person.
The decrease in dopamine leads to the following negative effects:
- drop in motivation and efficiency;
- apathy and loss of interest in life;
- reduced speed of thinking and ability to concentrate;
- weight gain;
- negative emotional manifestations, unmotivated irritability;
- development of depressive states.
A surplus of neurotransmitter leads to the development of pathological addictions and inadequate attraction to the search for sources of pleasure. This is manifested as follows:
- the emergence of an irrepressible sexual appetite;
- the rapid formation of dependence on all sorts of stimulants, including computer games, alcohol, drugs, sweet food;
- irritability and aggressive behavior;
- unreasonable confidence in their own superiority;
- unhealthy workaholism;
- development of mental confusion and emotional instability, which increase the risk of mental disorders, including schizophrenia.
Where and how is dopamine produced
The main raw material for the production of dopamine is the essential amino acid L-tyrosine. It enters the body with food or is produced from another essential amino acid – phenylalanine.
Dopamine, which is produced by brain cells, acts as a neurotransmitter. It has an effect on brain activity, spreading along specific dopamine pathways.
Dopamine, which is formed in the adrenal glands, cannot penetrate the brain tissue due to the presence of a protective blood-brain barrier. Acting as a hormone, it is involved in the regulation of blood pressure, vascular tone, and gastrointestinal peristalsis. In addition, it becomes the starting material for the biosynthesis of stress hormones: adrenaline and norepinephrine.
Causes of hormonal disorders
The full value of the dopamine tract in the brain depends on many factors. They are sensitive to any negative changes in the state of the body.
The cause of hormonal disruption can be unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, low social activity, long-term stress associated with professional activities and personal life, as well as bad habits: smoking, alcohol intake and narcotic stimulants.
In addition, dopamine production decreases with age. This causes a variety of functional disorders: a drop in cognitive abilities, a slower reaction, a deterioration in concentration and memory.
How to stabilize dopamine levels in the body
We are convinced of the importance of dopamine in ensuring the health of the body, quality of life and even the level of personal effectiveness. To maintain the stability of the dopamine pathways, it is necessary to follow simple guidelines.
- Eat right. Eating harmful foods that are high in simple carbohydrates, artificial fats, and nutritional supplements can also be categorized as bad habits that interfere with the coordinated work of the endocrine system, the brain, and other organs.
- Eat the right foods. As we found out earlier, two essential amino acids serve as the raw material for the production of dopamine: phenylalanine and tyrosine. By consuming products with a high content of these amino acids, it is possible to provide conditions for the smooth synthesis of a neurotransmitter. Here is a list of foods that should be given special attention: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, legumes, including soybeans and lentils. The uptake of tyrosine and phenylalanine is enhanced in the presence of iron, copper, and vitamins C, B6, B3.
- Maintain physical activity at the proper level. During workouts, endorphin and adrenaline are produced, which, with the help of a number of chemical transformations, trigger the release of dopamine.
- Give up bad habits. Any artificial stimulants disrupt dopamine-sensitive receptors.
- Observe the mode. It is important to pay healthy sleep at least 7 hours a day.
- Have sex regularly. Intimacy has a powerful effect on maintaining hormonal balance.
- Engage in self-development , improve your professional skills and increase self-esteem.
- Maintain friendly and respectful relationships with loved ones and work colleagues. If possible, avoid conflict situations. Learn to solve problems by establishing constructive interactions with others.
- Get into the habit of rewarding yourself for any, even the most insignificant achievements: at home, at work, in your personal life. In the role of a well-deserved reward, for example, a trip to a massage parlor, a cafe, a bath, a piece of clothing, a pleasant bauble, or even a simple, sincere gratitude turned to oneself.
Following the above recommendations, you can consciously influence the state of hormonal levels. Stable dopamine synthesis, in turn, will allow you to strengthen your motivation, improve your performance, improve your emotional background and create a steady optimistic outlook on life.