“Hormones are very powerful things. We are helpless in their wake.” - Meg Cabot
We all know that hormones affect us but do you know how do they do that? The endocrine system produces hormones to send signals throughout the body. The human body has more than fifty hormones to carry out complex processes.
Despite having various hormones, we hear about only a few and Dopamine is one of them. It is one of the feel-good hormones, responsible for making us feel pumped and excited. You must have noticed that after doing specific activities (which varies from person to person), you start to feel positive. Don’t you? Well, that happens because of the happy hormones. Humans have four major types of these hormones i.e. Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin. In this article, we are going to focus on Dopamine and some of the myths associated with it.
Hmm...Dopamine. What does it do?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that sends signals between neurons. This hormone releases from Ventral Tegmental Area. Even when we perform basic tasks such as eating our meal, drinking water or moving our body, our brain hits the reward circuit. And it releases a hormone that makes us happy (as a reward). And if we do things that we like, more Dopamine gets released. This is why you feel much better after having your favourite ice cream than having a bowl of healthy food.
But how does the process take place...you ask!
Ok. Let’s get this with an example. Suppose you plan to work out. When you start it, you don't feel good. But once you finish it, you are on cloud nine. But why does this happen? Well, when you finish a task, your brain rewards you by releasing Dopamine to make you super energetic. If you enjoyed the process of working out, your brain will remember the pleasure that it got you. And the next time, you want to feel all pumped up again, your brain will remind you of exercising. This is how people form a habit ( and get addicted to things as well).
Now, let’s move towards the 5 myths associated with Dopamine. Let’s see how many things about this happy hormone you were slightly wrong about!
Top 5 myths about Dopamine that you must know…
1. It can’t be dangerous.
When you start relying on the unnatural production of Dopamine such as alcohol, drugs or sex, you slow down its natural production. This can really be dangerous. A rise in Dopamine decreases the Serotonin level. Thus; you feel instant exhilaration but you don't feel happy for a longer time.
2. It's 'only' responsible for your mood.
It’s true that Dopamine makes you happy, energetic or motivated but it isn’t only responsible for your emotions. The elevation or declination of it can affect blood circulation, pain processing, insulin regulation, kidney function, sleep, sex drive etc. This is why it is advised to go for Dopamine Detox once in a while.
3. Food can’t enhance Dopamine levels.
Believe it or not but the food that we consume has a significant role in making us feel what we feel. If you worry about how to control dopamine addiction, you must re-check the food items that you pick to consume. You should include more protein and probiotic-rich food and less saturated food items. Some of the happy hormone foods are velvet beans, eggs, yoghurt, bananas, cheese, milk, almonds, walnut, dark chocolate, turkey, salmon, soybean, beef, etc.
4. Dopamine & Serotonin are soul sisters.
Dopamine and Serotonin are co-related but each one of them functions differently. Dopamine works on impulsivity whereas serotonin impedes spontaneousness. In some cases, low levels of serotonin can spike up Dopamine levels. You must have noticed that consumption of drugs gives an instant high to people but they can't be happy for a longer time.
5. It can't get addictive.
Consuming alcohol, drugs or getting involved in gambling or sexual activities gives instant pleasure. As you feel exuberated after these activities, your brain will most likely remind you of these when you would want to feel the same pleasure again. And this is how Dopamine which works on impulsivity can make you an addict.
If you want Dopamine to work in your favour, you must involve in self-care activities. Working out, taking care of yourself, cleaning your room, completing your task also gets you rewards by releasing dopamine naturally. We hope you enjoyed reading the article. Share your valuable thoughts in the comment section below!