Psychology & Psychiatry

Imbalance between serotonin and dopamine in social anxiety disorder

The balance between the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine may affect whether a person develops social anxiety disorder. Previous research has mainly focused on either the serotonin or the dopamine system individually. ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Dopamine fasting may not be as crazy as it sounds

Silicon Valley's newest fad is dopamine fasting, or temporarily abstaining from "addictive" activities such as social media, music, internet gaming—even food.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Chronic adversity dampens dopamine production

People exposed to a lifetime of psychosocial adversity may have an impaired ability to produce the dopamine levels needed for coping with acutely stressful situations.

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Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter occurring in a wide variety of animals, including both vertebrates and invertebrates. In the brain, this phenethylamine functions as a neurotransmitter, activating the five types of dopamine receptors — D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5, and their variants. Dopamine is produced in several areas of the brain, including the substantia nigra and the ventral tegmental area. Dopamine is also a neurohormone released by the hypothalamus. Its main function as a hormone is to inhibit the release of prolactin from the anterior lobe of the pituitary.

Dopamine can be supplied as a medication that acts on the sympathetic nervous system, producing effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. However, because dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, dopamine given as a drug does not directly affect the central nervous system. To increase the amount of dopamine in the brains of patients with diseases such as Parkinson's disease and dopa-responsive dystonia, L-DOPA (levodopa), which is the precursor of dopamine, can be given because it can cross the blood-brain barrier.

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