Dopamine

Page by Stephanie Watkins

Dopamine, arguably the most studied of all neurotransmitters, plays a role in motivation, higher thinking, and many “hypodopaminergic” clinical disorders (ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, OCD, and schizophrenia to name a few). While dopamine has not been linked to emotional behavior, it is often connected to motor behaviors, executive intelligence, and distal space (rather than proximal). Most notably associated with brainstem abnormalities in the prenatal period, specifically the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, hypodopaminergic disorders are characterized by a heightened motor activity resulting in a basic stereotypy (for example, rocking or spinning in children with autism). Social deficits are also linked to dopamine deficiencies, one of the most tell-tale symptoms of autism. Direct manipulations of the mother’s dopamine activity can be achieved through ingestion of cocaine or amphetamine, influencing the fetus’ exposure to dopamine. Indirect prenatal influences on dopamine are maternal nutritional deficiency, hyperthermia (fevers), and stress (elevates dopamine activity) (Previc, 2007).

References:

Previc, F. H. (2007). Prenatal influences on brain dopamine and their relevance to the rising incidence of autism. Medical Hypotheses, 68, 46-60.

5 Responses to Dopamine

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  3. Elizabeth says:

    This is fascinating… how do you guys naturally control the dopamine levels please?

  4. Sam says:

    I experienced an episode of high dopamine leading to a psychosis. I agree that antipsychotic medications cause more problems than they solve. Interestingly, whilst my brain reached psychosis which involved a bunch of meaningless associations and delusional beliefs at the time I also had a short period of time where I developed savant like abilities which went away when my dopamine levels fell back down again. I am convinced that this was not a part of the psychosis but of course no one believes me, labelling it as another delusion.

  5. Michael Troy says:

    I have had 3 psychotic episodes and been diagnosed with Bipolar 1. Once I understood the role dopamine plays in my condition I have been able to quickly bring all symptoms under control. Anti psychotic medication causes more problems than it solves and upon investigation are really dopamine uptake blockers. Through lifestyle changes which boost seratonin production and balance dopamine I have never felt better. As you point out dopamine plays a role in higher thinking and as I have described many times to doctors during mania I was on a manic search for meaning with the clarity of a cocaine user. I was making connections that a normal mind could not see. This seemed irrelevant to them as they reached for their prescriptions. My point is that as patients we are rarely utilised as a resource able to build the connections to avoid so called mental illness rather than simply wait for the crisis and try and treat the symptoms.

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