In the brain, neurotransmitters help facilitate the transmission of electrical impulses among neurons. One of these neurotransmitters is dopamine, and it is thought to play a significant role in the body's movements, motivation, decision making, and mood. Increasing dopamine in the brain may help to treat many illnesses. It may also help individuals to recover from and resist problems chemical addiction.
Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder that affects movement. During the course of this disease, cells in the brain are destroyed, including the cells that create dopamine. Patients with Parkinson's disease gradually become unable to control many of the body's movements because of the lack of dopamine in the brain. Treating this disorder's symptoms involves increasing dopamine levels using certain medications that mimic the neurotransmitter. Unfortunately, actual dopamine can not be used because the disease prevents it from entering the brain.
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Depression and its symptoms are thought to be related to a lack of dopamine in the brain as well. When a person is depressed, symptoms like a lack of motivation and a reduction in the pleasure he or she experiences in life may be persistent. These symptoms are thought to be caused by lower levels of dopamine. Many doctors prescribe medications that increase dopamine in the brain to help those suffering from major depression. Increasing dopamine is also thought to help with depressive moods in those who have bipolar disorder.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects both children and adults and is thought to be caused by lower levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Those who have ADHD will often have a difficult time paying attention, may act impulsively, and can be hyperactive. Increasing dopamine in the brains of those with ADHD through the use of medication has been shown to help with these symptoms.
People whose brains show evidence of low levels of dopamine are thought to be much more likely to struggle with addiction. This may be because the increase of dopamine caused by certain drugs and foods can lead users to feel a noticeable increase in positive mood, especially if their dopamine level was below average. Medications can be used to help prevent individuals recovering from addiction from experiencing extreme dopamine withdrawal from while fighting addiction, or a doctor may instruct the addict on how to naturally begin increasing dopamine in the brain. These natural methods may include eating the right foods, exercising, and taking natural supplements.