What Is a Dopamine Deficiency?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2020
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A dopamine deficiency occurs when the body does not produce enough dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for relaying messages from the brain to other areas of the body. There are a variety of potential causes for this disorder, including chronic stress, nutritional deficiencies, and medical conditions such as Parkinson's disease or thyroid disorders. Symptoms of a dopamine deficiency may include depression, weight gain, or extreme levels of fatigue. Treatment may include dietary changes, exercise, or the use of prescription medications. Any individualized questions or concerns about a dopamine deficiency should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

There are many possible contributing factors to the development of a dopamine deficiency, and a doctor may order a variety of tests in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis. In many cases, simple causes such as abnormal sleep patterns, chronic stress, or nutritional deficiencies are to blame. In other situations, there may be an underlying medical disorder such as Parkinson's disease, adrenal insufficiency, or influenza. Exposure to environmental toxins or illicit drug use may also lead to a dopamine deficiency.


Symptoms of a dopamine deficiency can often mimic those present with other medical disorders, so obtaining an accurate diagnosis is extremely important. Extreme levels of fatigue are common, and the patient may have difficulty performing normal activities. Depression, weight gain, and decreased libido may also occur with this condition. Those who have low dopamine levels may be at an increased risk of developing a variety of addictions according to some medical professionals.

Changes to diet and exercise programs can often alleviate the symptoms of a dopamine deficiency. Before beginning a new exercise program, a doctor should be consulted to make sure the patient is healthy enough to exercise. Foods that may help to increase dopamine levels include bananas, avocados, and almonds. Dairy products may also help to increase the levels of dopamine in those who are not sensitive to these foods. Caffeine may provide a temporary boost but should not be relied on for consistent help in treating this disorder.

Prescription medications are sometimes needed in order to increase dopamine levels. Studies have found that some types of antidepressants may be particularly beneficial to those who suffer from a dopamine deficiency. As these drugs may cause unwanted side effects such as drowsiness or problems with concentration, a doctor should be consulted to help the patient decide on the most appropriate treatment program for an individual situation.


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Post 3

But how is a dopamine deficiency diagnosed? If we have these symptoms, do we just assume that we have it or is there a test for it?

Post 2

@fBoyle-- There is absolutely such a thing as congenital dopamine deficiency. But I think that this is not common as dopamine deficiencies caused by stress and disease. I'm not a doctor, but I think that if someone is born with a dopamine deficiency, he or she would experience many issues from very early on. Parents and doctors will most likely notice these issues and will diagnose the deficiency.

But when someone experiences the effects of this deficiency suddenly in their life, there is clearly some other cause for it. I think that it's good for a dopamine deficiency to be caused by stress. It means that if one reduces stress in life, his brain will produce dopamine as it's supposed to.

Post 1

This article is very informative, but I'm confused about one point. I see an implication here that dopamine deficiencies are always situational-- stress caused or disease caused. But it is my understanding that it could also be congenital.

I suffer from chronic depression and I have made a lot of friends on various forums where we discuss these topics and try to help each other. I know at least five other people who have had dopamine related depression their whole life, every since they've known themselves. They often say that they were born this way.

Can't people be born with a dopamine deficiency? And what can people like that do for treatment?

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