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Stop Sabotaging Dopamine, Your Feel-Good Hormone

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Do you ever feel as if you just don't have the energy to make it through the day? Is it hard for you to complete things? Are you easily distracted and/or find it hard to concentrate? If you answered yes to these questions, on the one hand there is a good chance you need to stop stalling and talk to you doctor. On the other hand, there is a good chance that you need to increase your dopamine levels.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is a hormone-like communication or message that travels through the nervous system. This neurotransmitter affects our mood, focus, energy, and behavior. Dopamine is known as our feel-good or pleasure hormone. However, if our dopamine levels are low, this can cause an imbalance in our lives. Reduced dopamine production is linked to depression, attention deficit disorder, obesity, and other medical conditions. When dopamine levels are low, we don't feel well which is why we so often find ourselves looking for vitality and feel-good through a dopamine boost.


That feel-good feeling and vitality is what makes cocaine and other drugs so appealing. The heightened pleasure and feeling that you have the ability to conquer everything it's only because cocaine and other drugs stimulate dopamine. Ergo, the actual physical feeling that a person has is coming from dopamine not really the drug. The drug is only the trigger that creates more dopamine in the body. Mind blown yet?

When we are dopamine deficient, we begin to show a lack in motivation, a lack in drive, we become fatigued, we lose our goals, we may become more prone to addictions or have more of an addictive personality, we may begin to have mood issues, we may have more anxiety, and we may have more depression. This said, we can see why dopamine is such a popular neurotransmitter that people are trying to increase by doing a lot of different things and unfortunately sometimes this means drug use. What do we do with this information now that we have it? Figure out ways to naturally and safely increase dopamine. But before we can explore how to do that, we must understand some of the everyday activities that we engage in that actually depletes dopamine.

Excessive use of caffeine

What's interesting about this one is that when we consume that cup of joe, or have our favorite tea, drink that energy drink, or eat chocolate, it initially causes us to feel good. However, if we take too much caffeine over time, it decreases our dopamine.

Alcohol or Drugs

Excessive drinking can deplete dopamine levels as can using drugs that directly target the brain's reward system, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids. These substances can disrupt the natural production, release, or reuptake of dopamine, leading to imbalances and decreased dopamine function. Hence one of the reasons why a person needs more and more.

Sweet Tooth

Sugar can temporarily increase dopamine release, leading to a feeling of pleasure or reward. When we consume sugary foods, our brain's reward system is activated, and dopamine is released in response to the pleasurable experience. Cookies, candies, ice cream, pies. Oh my, how I love them all! But....chronic and excessive consumption of sugar can lead to a downregulation of dopamine receptors in the brain. This means that over time, the brain becomes less responsive to dopamine, requiring larger amounts of sugar or other stimuli to experience the same level of pleasure. This can contribute to a cycle of cravings, overeating, and potential negative impacts on overall well-being.

Poor, Unbalanced Nutrition

We have already talked about sugary foods and how too much of those can lead to decrease in responsiveness of our brain to dopamine. However, having a poor, innutritious diet overall leads to a negative impact on dopamine levels. Tyrosine is an amino acid responsible for helping our bodies synthesize dopamine. Foods rich in tyrosine include lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds. A diet lacking in these kinds of protein rich foods impacts our bodies' ability to support the optimal functioning of the dopamine system in the brain.


Stress activates the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can interfere with dopamine synthesis and signaling. High levels of stress over an extended period may lead to reduced dopamine availability and impaired reward processing.

Poor Sleep

As discussed in our article, How Much Sleep Debt Do You Own? getting sufficient and restful sleep plays a vital role in enabling our bodies to effectively heal, repair heart and blood vessels, regulate hunger and fullness hormones, improve insulin sensitivity, and bolster our immune system against germs and illnesses. However, the accumulation of sleep debt and experiencing poor sleep can impede these essential processes, resulting in compromised overall health. Insufficient sleep can reduce dopamine release, leading to decreased motivation, impaired cognitive function, and a higher susceptibility to mood disorders.

Sedentary Lifestyle

If you work in an office setting, this next one can be an Achilles heel of sorts. Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle have been associated with reduced dopamine activity. Exercise stimulates the release of dopamine and promotes its receptors' sensitivity, leading to increased dopamine function. Inactivity, on the other hand, can contribute to decreased dopamine levels.

In addition to avoiding sabotaging ourselves by overindulging in caffeine, alcohol, drugs, and sweets; engaging in poor nutrition and sleep; and not quelling stress and sedentary lifestyle, there are things that we can do to naturally increase our dopamine supply to stay motivated, productive, and happy.


As mentioned in section about innutrition, adding tyrosine to our diets through lean meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, legumes, nuts, and seeds can help increase our bodies synthesis of dopamine. You can also supplement with tyrosine; however, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure it aligns with individual health needs.

Vitamin D:

​Vitamin D receptors are found in areas of the brain associated with dopamine regulation, indicating a possible connection between the two. Adequate levels of vitamin D may support optimal dopamine function, which is important for mood regulation, motivation, and overall brain health. The most important source of Vitamin D is sunlight. However, in some locales, winter months make obtaining vitamin D from sunlight difficult. Look for supplements that provide D3.

Vitamin B5:

If you have read my article, "B in the Know About Your Mental Health: Vitamin B," you are already familiar with the role B vitamins play in our mental wellbeing. In brief review, Vitamin B5 helps with energy production, helps manage hormones such as cortisol, and helps us with managing stress. Adequate levels of vitamin B5 are essential for the synthesis and regulation of dopamine.

Vitamin B6:

Whereas Vitamin B6 plays a crucial role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which are involved in regulating mood and emotions. Adequate levels of Vitamin B6 are necessary for maintaining a balanced mental state.


When we exercise, the brain releases dopamine, which creates feelings of pleasure and reward. This surge of dopamine not only enhances our mood but also boosts motivation, energy, and focus. Regular exercise has even been compared to natural antidepressants due to its ability to enhance dopamine transmission and improve mood. Exercise promotes the growth of new dopamine receptors in the brain, making the dopamine system more efficient and responsive over time.

My intention with this article was to increase your level of awareness on dopamine and how to work with our bodies naturally to increase our dopamine supply rather than sabotaging our bodies' efforts. If you discover that you just can't find the motivation to enjoy life to the fullest, please know that you can train your dopamine response to help you out. We each have the ability to utilize our neurological processes to assist us in engaging in healthy activities that naturally enhance our dopamine levels. When we take the time to work with our body and its natural processes, we will find that we are much happier, healthier, and more productive. Were there any surprises to you on that dopamine sabotaging list? Do you know of any other natural and healthy dopamine boosting activities that were not included above? Join us in the comments below with your thoughts. As always please remember as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!

"Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place." ~Josh Billings

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8 views2 comments


Jun 12, 2023

definitely a great read. I learned a lot of good information about dopamine and being happy. This is encouraging to continue to make healthier life choice.

Letecia Griffin
Letecia Griffin
Jun 12, 2023
Replying to

Encouragement is what we are all about! Glad you found today's article helpful. 💚

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