If you’re feeling a little down or unmotivated, you might have lowered levels of dopamine!
What is dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by our brains that, essentially, makes us feel rewarded. It is associated with feelings of motivation, alertness, and pleasure. It also aids in motor function, memory and cognition, and executive planning.
People can have decreased levels of dopamine for a variety of reasons: chronic stress and anxiety, poor sleeping habits, obesity, etc. This can lead to feelings of depression, and low motivation, and can impact decision-making and memory.
Try some of these at-home tips to increase dopamine levels!
- Get Sunlight Exposure – UV light that comes from the sun can affect the amount of D4 receptors, a type of dopamine receptor that is influenced by light. Getting sun exposure to your eyes early in the day can increase these receptors over time.
- Regular Amount of Caffeine – Regular amounts of caffeine can increase D2 and D3 receptions, another type of dopamine receptor. Consuming about 100-250 mg (depending on your caffeine sensitivity) of caffeine regularly can improve the efficiency of these receptors to bind to dopamine over time. Another bonus of coffee or tea in addition to your burst of energy.
- Eat Tyrosine-rich Foods -Tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine and through enzymes in your body, will be converted into dopamine. It is also a component in the production of epinephrine and norepinephrine, other important neurotransmitters released by the brain! Some tyrosine-rich foods include soy products, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, bananas, milk, and cheese.
These are small adjustments to try at home within safe parameters for the short-term effects of temporary increases in dopamine. They are not long-term solutions to low dopamine levels and the consequent symptoms. Please consult your healthcare providers if you feel you have a serious condition and would like more guidance about managing chronic feelings of stress and low motivation.
-Abigail Cabagay, SPT
1. Vollebregt, M.A. et al. “The Role of Gene Encoding Variation of DRD4 in the Relationship between Inattention and Seasonal Daylight.” (2019)
2. Parikh, Roma, et al. “Skin Exposure to UVB Light Induces a Skin-Brain-Gonad Axis and Sexual Behavior.” (2021)
3. Volkow, N., Wang, GJ., Logan, J. et al. “Caffeine increases striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability in the human brain.” (2015)