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Low Dopamine Levels: Symptoms & Adverse Reactions

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in many necessary brain functions. It is released when we get rewarded and is linked to feelings of pleasure. The pleasure associated with the release of dopamine is what makes certain behaviors addictive. Any behavior that induces a sense of pleasure such as: gambling and winning, doing certain drugs, drinking alcohol, having sex, or eating candy – all stimulate the dopaminergic system.

Unfortunately excessive release of dopamine via certain behaviors can lead to a dopamine sensitivity and/or even a reduction in dopamine levels. Someone who uses amphetamines over a long-term gets an initial “high” or pleasure from the short-term increase in dopamine. Over the long-term, the amount of dopamine becomes depleted, leading the user to require higher doses to experience the same pleasurable effect.

Low dopamine is an inevitable side effect of certain addictions, but is also a consequence of certain conditions like schizophrenia and neurodegenerative diseases. If you have low dopamine or excessively low dopamine, chances are that it’s impairing your mental performance. Although too much dopamine can create problems, too little dopamine may be even more problematic.

Low Dopamine Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Since dopamine is involved in a variety of brain functions, low extracellular levels of this neurotransmitter can result in a variety of unwanted symptoms. Keep in mind that the severity and number of symptoms you experience as a result of low dopamine is subject to individual variation.

  • Attention deficits: Many individuals with attentional deficits are speculated to have abnormally low levels of dopamine. If you have below average levels of dopamine, it’s going to make it tougher to pay attention and focus. We know that administration of amphetamines (drugs which elevate dopamine) is able to improve attentional capacities of individuals who struggle with attention. Low dopamine may not be the sole reason for attention deficits, but those with lower than average dopamine will likely struggle to focus their attention.
  • Anxiety: Those with anxiety disorders have probably heard that high dopamine can exacerbate nervousness, tension, and anxiety. Certainly higher than average dopamine can be problematic, but abnormally low dopamine causes anxiety in a subset of individuals. These individuals often find that taking a drug like Adderall for anxiety actually improves their symptoms.
  • Blunted affect: A decrease in the level of dopamine often results in a person to appear “blunted” or as if they have emotionally flat-lined. They won’t show much capacity for expressing feelings of joy, excitement, happiness, but they also won’t really express sadness or panic. Low dopamine causes a person to appear emotionally “grey” or as if they’ve become a robot.
  • Cognitive impairment: It’s tough to perform well cognitively when you don’t have enough dopamine. Insufficient dopamine can result in suboptimal job performance, inability to complete cognitively-demanding tasks, and poor memory. As a means to optimize dopamine levels, many top-performers supplement agents or drugs that deliberately elevate their brain’s baseline dopamine level.
  • Confusion: It’s relatively easy to become confused when your brain isn’t producing enough dopamine. Learning new things won’t make as much sense as they should, you may experience excessive brain fog, and have a difficult time functioning in society. Increasing dopamine tends to decrease confusion and promotes psychomotor vigilance.
  • Depersonalization: Dopamine promotes emotional expression and helps us process how we feel. With low levels of dopamine, it may feel as if all of the color and zest gets sucked out of life. A person with dopaminergic-based depersonalization may feel as if no activity brings them pleasure. They feel as if their “core” personality has changed and as if they are observing themselves from a third-person perspective. It is common for addicts with low dopamine to become depersonalized.
  • Depression: Low dopamine can be a major contributor to depressive symptoms. Anyone with abnormally low dopamine is likely to experience a depression that differs from a serotonergic depression, despite the fact that both share common overt observational symptoms. Those that end up taking a drug like Adderall for depression over a long-term with success may have needed a dopamine boost rather than serotonin.
  • Disorganized thinking: Those who have severely disorganized thinking tend to have low levels of dopamine. Sufficient dopamine helps us organize and logically sort through our thoughts. Those that develop conditions like disorganized schizophrenia may have abnormally low dopamine in certain parts of the brain.
  • Fatigue: Without enough dopamine for fuel, you may feel excessively tired or lethargic. When a person that’s been using amphetamines daily for an extended term stops using them, they typically feel more tired than usual. This is a fatigue that’s directly influenced by abnormally low levels of dopamine. Over time without a relapse, the dopamine stores will increase and energy levels will normalize.
  • Lack of motivation: Low dopamine can also lead to avolition or severe motivational deficits. Slightly reduced dopamine production may make you feel more tired than usual and feel lazy. Severe deficits can result in motivational impairment to the point that it’s difficult to justify doing work or engaging in proper self-care.
  • Learning problems: If you’re a person with low dopamine and are attempting to learn new information, your ability to learn is diminished. It may seem as if you’re reading or hearing information, but it’s going in one ear and out the other. Almost like you cannot absorb the new informational stimuli that you’ve presented your brain.
  • Poor concentration: You may have foggy thinking, be susceptible to daydreams, and have a tough time focusing when necessary. Low dopamine can create a state of mental fogginess, making it tougher than usual to concentrate. This is why those with concentration problems often find that ADHD medications (or psychostimulants) improve their ability to focus.
  • Inattentiveness: Those with the inattentive subtype of ADHD may get the most benefit from increasing their dopamine. While low dopamine certainly isn’t the only factor that causes inattentiveness, it likely plays a role. Inattentiveness can sometimes be offset by increasing extracellular levels of dopamine.
  • Low libido: A person with low dopamine tends to have a reduced interest in sex. They may have less desire to seek out a sexual partner and may have a non-existent sex drive. In some cases anorgasmia or inability to orgasm may result due to the fact that they lack dopamine to sustain interest. Low libido tends to quickly turn around when dopamine levels increase.
  • Memory impairment: Those with neurodegenerative diseases often suffer memory impairment as a result of dysfunction within the brain’s dopamine system. The dysfunction results in abnormally low amounts of dopamine and memory functions become impaired. While low dopamine certainly isn’t the only cause of memory problems, increasing dopamine (via pharmaceuticals) tends to help improve recall.
  • Monotone speech: A person’s speech may become extremely monotone, which is indicative of the fact that they are lacking pleasure. Life isn’t really as “bright” as it should be when dopamine levels are low. Voices of those with low dopamine may sound robotic and lack any emotional enthusiasm in a positive or negative direction. This is associated with blunted affect which was mentioned earlier.
  • Sleepiness: If your dopamine levels are low, you may feel more sleepy than usual. It isn’t uncommon to engage in excessive sleep as a way for your brain to increase dopamine production. Those withdrawing from stimulatory drugs like amphetamines typically notice that they are more sleepy than usual upon discontinuation. This is due to the fact that their dopamine levels are below baseline.
  • Slow thinking: While thinking slow can sometimes be a result of preexisting genetically homeostatic neural pathways, it can also be a result of a dopamine deficiency. Those that consider themselves “slow thinkers” may find that their thinking is further slowed with reduced dopamine. Increasing dopamine tends to increase arousal, beta brain waves, and thought speed.
  • Social withdrawal: Since low dopamine saps the pleasure from life, it is common for those with low levels to withdraw from social situations. A person may no longer get pleasure from talking to friends, partaking in social activities, etc. The dopaminergic “feel good” reward from engaging with others in social situations is no longer present. This can provoke social isolation, which over time, can also result in poorer functioning of dopamine.
  • Weight changes: Generally a person with low dopamine may not derive as much interest in eating food as someone with greater production of dopamine. However, most people with low dopamine find that their metabolism is slowed, they sleep more than usual, and have a difficult time sustaining physical activity. This usually results in weight gain whereas higher dopamine production tends to stimulate weight loss.

Low Dopamine Adverse Reactions

If you have excessively low dopamine, you may run into problems with coordination, balance, communication, and thinking. Understand that excessively low dopamine tends to occur with neurodegenerative diseases and severe mental illness.

  • Balance difficulties: Since dopamine is involved in motor functions and balance, someone with a deficiency may have difficulty maintaining proper balance. They may also find that their coordination is substantially impaired in direct relation to low dopamine production.
  • Inability to write: Writing is an activity that requires significant cognitive horsepower. One of the neurotransmitters that fuels a person’s ability to write with clarity and focus is that of dopamine. If you’re lacking dopamine, you may have writing difficulties or may not be able to write at all (assuming your coordination is also affected). Think of a case of writer’s block on steroids.
  • Postural changes: Low dopamine can result in postural changes. A person with low dopamine may sit with a rigid posture or may appear completely stiff and uncomfortable. This is likely due to the fact that certain regions of the brain (e.g. motor circuits) aren’t getting the dopamine necessary to operate properly.
  • Severe disorganization: While disorganization is often a common sign of schizophrenia, it can be a sign of a number of other dopaminergic disorders. Dopamine dysfunction accompanied by low levels can result in disorganized thinking, behavior, communication, etc. A person may lose their entire capacity to function logically.
  • Speech problems: A person with deficient dopamine may have disorganized speech and/or may not be able to properly speak. Some people with low dopamine may speak infrequently, babble, or make sounds rather than elocute words properly. This is a problem that
  • Tremors: Some tremors and restlessness may be fueled by insufficient dopamine production. While lack of dopamine is not always the sole cause of “shakes” or tremors, it can be a contributing factor. Medications that increase dopamine to standard levels can help offset this problem.

How to Increase Dopamine Levels

If you have low dopamine, there a variety of ways in which you can increase it. If the low dopamine is a result of a mental illness or a neurodegenerative disease, talk to your doctor about what can be done. If you don’t have any diagnosable condition but want to increase your dopamine, your best bet is making dietary changes and/or considering a supplement like L-Tyrosine.

Dietary interventions: Those that suspect their dopamine level is slightly below the norm should first make dietary changes. Start eating dopamine rich foods like eggs, fish, poultry, and red meat. Foods that are high in protein tend to increase levels of dopamine. Additionally foods containing “tyrosine” like cheese, beans, dairy nuts, and seeds may also help.

Drugs: There are a variety of pharmaceutical drugs (e.g. dopamine reuptake inhibitors) that are utilized to increase dopamine in patients that clearly need a boost. Generally those that need phamaceutical-grade dopamine increases have been diagnosed with conditions like Parkinson’s disease. Other conditions such as certain types of ADHD, depression, reward deficiencies, etc. may also benefit.

Supplements: If you’ve made dietary changes, but still aren’t finding them to be quite enough to elevate your dopamine, there are some supplements that you could consider taking. Both of the supplements recommended act as precursors to the production of dopamine. Your body converts them into dopamine upon ingestion.

  • L-Tyrosine
  • L- Phenylalanine

Conditions associated with Low Dopamine

There are many psychological disorders related to low dopamine production in the brain. While some of them are more related to dopamine dysfunction rather than low extracellular levels, research has also suggested that low dopamine may be more likely among individuals with these conditions.

  • Addiction: People that are addicts to certain behaviors or stimuli (e.g. drugs) find that they get a temporary boost in dopamine when engaging in the activity. Unfortunately this temporary boost cannot be sustained for a long-term. Sustained engagement in certain addictions may actually lower the endogenous supply of dopamine in the brain; this is seen in those addicted to amphetamines. Only stopping the addictive behavior for a long-term will result in dopamine levels to increase.
  • ADHD: There are numerous types of ADHD, some of which may be a result of low dopamine. While dopamine is not the only cause of ADHD, increasing levels may help a person cope with their condition. This is why many dopaminergic agents (e.g. L-Tyrosine) tend to be used as effective Adderall alternatives.
  • Anxiety disorders: It is important to realize that most types of anxiety disorders do not stem from low dopamine. People that find increasing their dopamine levels helps with anxiety are in the minority, but certainly exist. Those that find psychostimulants beneficial for easing their anxiety symptoms may have substandard levels of dopamine or dysfunction within the dopamine system.
  • Autism: There have been numerous dopamine defects found in individuals with autism. Researchers have found that the dopamine signaling is altered as a result of certain genetic expression. While there aren’t many good treatments for those with autism on the market, pharmaceutical firms are looking to target the observed dysfunction by targeting the dopamine transporter.
  • Bipolar disorder: While it is unknown as to what causes the depressive phase of bipolar disorder, some speculate that low dopamine may be symptom. Those with this condition should be working with a medical professional to determine what neurotransmitter increases and/or decreases yield the most benefit. In some cases taking a drug that raises dopamine can be helpful to cope with the depression, but caution must be taken to avoid the transition to mania.
  • Depression: Not all types of depression are caused by low dopamine, but some are. Certain subtypes of depression tend to benefit more from drugs that increase dopamine (e.g. Wellbutrin) than those that increase serotonin. I’ve written an article discussing the fact that dopamine can cause depression just as easily as serotonin.
  • Drug abuse: Those that abuse drugs may have deficiencies in multiple neurotransmitters (depending on the drug). If the drug flooded the brain with dopamine, in the process it may have used up dopamine stores and caused some dysfunction. This drug-induced dopamine dysfunction may take some time to correct itself and likely won’t correct itself unless the person abstains from drugs.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases: Those that are experiencing neurodegenerative diseases tend to have diminished production of dopamine, particularly in Parkinson’s. This leads to problems with walking, posture and movement, followed by cognitive impairment. It has been established that those with Parkinson’s aren’t able to produce dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain. This means that drugs like L-Dopa (synthetic dopamine) are commonly prescribed to help boost levels.
  • Reward deficiency syndrome: Those suffering from a theoretical condition known as “reward deficiency syndrome” (RDS) are thought to have insufficient dopamine production in certain parts of the brain. The low dopamine leads people with RDS to seek out addictive behaviors as an attempt to increase their lower-than-average baseline dopamine, which makes the person feel more “alive” rather than blunted. Unfortunately many of these behaviors (e.g. addictive drugs) provide a temporary increase in dopamine, but deplete levels over the long-term; which exacerbates the condition.
  • Schizophrenia: Certain types of schizophrenia are believed to be a result of low dopamine. While all cases tend to exhibit dopaminergic dysfunction, not all cases are associated with paranoia and delusions. In fact, the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are likely in part influenced by low dopamine. These negative symptoms tend to include things like: blunted emotion, monotone voice, lack of energy, avolition, and disorganization. Some of the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia may also be a reflection of low dopamine.

Have you experienced low dopamine?

If you’re a person that’s dealt with low dopamine, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. How did you know that low dopamine was contributing to your problem and can you really be sure that dopamine was to blame? Many people think they automatically have “low dopamine” because a medication like a psychostimulant helps them perform better.

Slight elevations in dopamine are going to help even a non-dopamine deficient person perform better. Therefore it is really difficult to know with 100% accuracy that low dopamine is a problem in any particular case. However, certain conditions like Parkinson’s disease tend to result from dopamine deficiencies. In this case, increasing dopamine is known to help.

To help others get a better understanding of your situation, talk about whether you’ve been formally diagnosed with a condition associated with low dopamine and how increasing your dopamine levels have helped.

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{ 64 comments… add one }
  • David D January 21, 2018, 7:18 am

    Dopamine plays a huge role but just taking L-dopa has not been the answer for me. My background consist of previous Oxycodone addictions (I say addictions because I went off and on, relapsed 100 Times) chronic stress and marijuana usage. Upon my last relapse, like 3 years ago I was also under extreme levels of stress.

    I seemed to have blown a fuse in the circuitry of my brain and have not been able to recover since. I suffer from insomnia and fibro-like symptoms. My chronic fatigue is tied directly to how “deep” I sleep. My insomnia consist of very light sleep and is not usually just lack of sleep. I lost all interest in life and have been emotionally dull. I found l-dopa to be very helpful at times in low doses.

    I urge everybody to use with extreme caution. 2 or 3 pills per month is what has helped. If I take more my receptors get down regulated very fast and you can find yourself doing more damage to a system already in need of lots of TLC. While l-dopa can help, more dopamine is not the underlying issue or else fibro, Parkinson’s and CFS patients would easily be cured, so please pump the breaks.

    I turned a friend on to l-dopa and she too experienced the opposite affect of its intended purpose as the brain will shut down your receptors very fast and it can take months to recover. I am no longer able to take Oxycodone amongst other drugs any longer as they produce massive headaches. I developed an intolerance to alcohol and can no longer get a buzz or euphoric feeling from it.

    Alcohol actually exacerbates my insomnia instead of helping me sleep. Drugs that help me, including natural herbs only help for 1 day, by day 2 it feels like my body/brain quickly develops a tolerance to the drug. My addiction recovery pathway seems to be damaged. The only drugs that help me sleep seem to be dopaminergic in some sense but like I said only work for 1 day.

    I must wait like a month before they can help me again. Coffee although it releases dopamine, has a strong effect on adenosine which can and will play a role in your insomnia and must be stopped. I rely on flexeril or marijuana for sleep, however those probably will hinder any chance of a natural recovery. I can’t tell if my brain isn’t making enough dopamine or if my receptors are damaged but I do know the problem lies deeper than just lack of dopamine.

    The massive headaches I get from certain drugs, tolerances and easy dependencies I develop offer the biggest clues. Cortisol levels are deregulated, crash during the day but come up at night preventing any chance of deep sleep. Adrenal fatigue and low metabolism is present but is dictated by my nights rest, my nights rest appears to be dictated by my dopamine dysregulation. The dopamine dysregulation appears to be hindered by my addiction recovery pathway.

    I know there’s hope as I’ve experienced a couple normal days while trying desperately to piece together a puzzle that the top doctors have yet to decipher. I stopped smoking marijuana with hopes of upregulating my dopamine receptors and have experienced worse insomnia. I’ve never had trouble quitting marijuana and now my body is acting like I’m coming off opiates.

    Anyhow my current plan is to stop all drugs and supplements, workout, eat healthy and try to upregulate the dopamine system naturally as drugs only hinder my recovery given the tolerance& dependencies that seem to take place. Sensitive to chemicals on day 1, by day 2 the drugs are ineffective. Easy with the l-dopa guys please.

    It can help, if used sparingly but I would do everything you can to recover naturally as the problem runs much deeper. If that was the only issue people would be cured left and right and that’s not the case. Somebody will figure it out soon, the answer lies within us all. Don’t give up hope. Try drug free for a year. I’ve tried a hundred drugs and only dug a deeper hole.

    The doctors have tried a thousand and nobody has been cured. We need to iron out our genes, turn back on what we once had and turn off the bad ones we activated. Get off all drugs as they haven’t cured anybody. Back to the basics until a cure is found. It all boils down to deep sleep, not just sleep. Dopamine plays a big role but what are we missing? Please doc, we’re missing something, you’re missing something… it’s right there.

    • Jason D April 11, 2018, 4:18 am

      Wow David, I feel for you. I have a slightly different direction you may try on your recovery road though. In my view, you are extremely focused on the micro-environment of one neurotransmitter. Undoubtedly you are hitting on many of the right pieces making up the larger puzzle of yourself.

      I’m sure you know, for example, that most of the body’s immune system is dedicated to the intestines? If your gut isn’t healthy your body is fighting every day to keep you from succumbing to some bacteria or illness. I didn’t have the same preceding experiences as you, but I found myself in a very similar place a while back. Maybe 5 or 7 years.

      I started a daily regiment of a high quality Milk Thistle. 3 months later, I didn’t have those headaches anymore, the fatigue was slowly and steadily improving. You took a lot of drugs and abused most of them it sounds like. Assuming you were swallowing them, there are only a few pathways those drugs can take. Find out what they are and work on healing them.

      You see, I think you are starting where it all ended up – in your head. The drug abuse didn’t just hammer your brain, it hammered everything in between too. The dopamine levels you describe may resolve themselves if you stop seeing that as where the problem begins, but where it ends. You are a creative and intelligent person – it gleams through in your writing.

      Recovery should never be about going backwards. It should be about going back over the things you did wrong and doing your best to correct anything you f’d up while high. You can do it. Some other suggestions that I hope may help you, but of course look into them yourself. The milk thistle I used is called “Oregon’s Wild Harvest Milk Thistle – Organic”.

      It’s the real deal as far as I’m concerned. If you do it, just go for the straight milk thistle, not the one with dandelion and other stuff. It seems stronger/more effective to me. Get some Inositol (myo). I buy on amazon from a company called “bulk nutrition”. They sell it in loose powder and it has zero fillers.

      Inositol is kind of sweet tasting by itself and easily mixes with water. Doses ranging from 800 mg to 15 grams a day. Inositol is an amazingly important molecule to have in your system at all times. It helps regulate insulin sensitivity for one, and it helps work towards hormonal balance. Women with PCOS have life changing results with this supplement.

      I’m sure you read the “Adderall Tolerance” article on this same site. It says: “Inositol: There’s modest evidence suggesting that chronic inositol administration significantly increases D2 receptor density in the striatum.” I take 4-6 grams for a week or two and break for a week or two. There is a terrific list on that page of other supplements that might help you.

      But again, I think it’s gotta start from where it all started. Look at your liver. Look at your intestines, if they aren’t working right… Look at your kidneys and drink water until clear pee at least once a day. Have you had a blood test recently to check all the normal stuff like thyroid, cholesterol, prostate, lymph nodes, etc.? Thyroid problems can cause all of those symptoms you mentioned too.

      One last possible thing but I don’t know too much about it. Look into: Betaine Anhydrous Trimethylglycine (TMG). A lot of people report incredible improvements in energy, fatigue, etc. (Amazon reviews).

      Your post wasn’t so long ago, so I hope you’ll get a chance the check back.

      P.S. I also use generic Benadryl for sleeping. Haven’t noticed any long term effects and it still works every time.

    • Hugo September 24, 2018, 2:44 am

      I would love to talk to you about what is going with you. I have exactly the same situation, more or less…

  • Me January 5, 2017, 5:49 am

    Adderall is a temporary fix that ultimately leads to dependence and tolerance. It’s not a matter of if, but when. I’ve gone through it at least 4 times. It gets worse each time. I’m only still alive because of my obligations to my children.

    I thought of myself as lazy and fat for so long that I had a genetic test done that showed I have a phenotype for burning through dopamine faster than I produce it. So yes, I have valid reason for feeling this way. Knowing it only helped at first, then it made it worse.

    If your reading this, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Own up to who you are and the shitty hands you were dealt. It’s only after you have accepted yourself that you can start to love yourself.

    What helps me? Keeping balance and discipline. I never felt like it in the beginning, but some form of exercise and healthy eating is HUGE. The main thing is to do something YOU will stick with. CONSISTENCY is everything.

    I like quick and easy, but measurable. Seeing yourself progress at something physical will start to trickle over into other parts of your life. I used to exercise to look good, but now it’s to feel good. I suggest “Wendler 5/3/1” strength training because it is quick, basic, and measurable. You won’t get big if you are a female BTW.

    Strength training is my base and I fall back on it when all else fails. NALT supplements or just eating meat and cheese like the article says is big too (it’s an amino acid that makes dopamine). Leafy greens are helpful too. (Diarrhea till your body adjusts, FYI).

    MORE THAN ANYTHING: Don’t be so damn hard on yourself, but also don’t write yourself off as always being in the pits of feeling helpless. This too shall pass, especially if you adapt to your biology. Exercise, food, and rest when you need it.

    • Shannon July 8, 2018, 1:43 pm

      Wow. Never mind the judgmental, narrow minded, and self-righteous tone of your comment, but the absence of any actual experience, situation, or description of any naturally occurring symptom related to LDL leads the reader to question your credibility, making your long winded lecture not worth the time it took to read it, much less consider its content.

      You sound like a garden variety junky. While there’s no question that addiction causes low dopamine levels (it’s one of the most common complaints amongst addicts) this particular page is geared towards people who, due to no fault of their own, don’t posses the necessary brain chemistry to feel, act, or accomplish at the same level as the next person.

      In other words, they’re at a major disadvantage in a very dog eat dog world, and that SUCKS. Forget the fact that it’s a major handicap, it’s sheer misery. I’d rather have someone break both of my legs. At least my legs have a chance of healing. I’ve personally been suffering from inadequate dopamine levels for at least 26 years.

      I attempted suicide repeatedly in my 20’s, swallowing the hundreds of worthless psychiatric pills I was ordered to take, just to wake up in the ER, tied up, with a in my nose, and a belly full of charcoal. You can’t reason with a person who’s dopamine levels have dropped so low they’ve stopped having emotions and feelings.

      I’ll use your example of “obligations to my children” to make my point: A formerly loving and doting mother, one that would claw through concrete to save her children if she discovered them in harms way, might not give leaving her children behind a second thought once her dopamine levels dropped below a certain level.

      I think you need to go back and re-read the article so you can better understand what dopamine is and it’s necessity to human existence. I’ll give you a hint: The total absence of dopamine would not be compatible to life. To anyone suffering from LDL who has the misfortune of reading the previous post, LDL IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

      You can run to China, but all you’re going to have to show for it is tired legs and feel REALLY depressed because now you’re in China. LDL sucks. And no one understands because most have never experienced depression so paralyzing that just getting up to take a piss requires more motivation than they possess.

      You know you’ve got problems when you actually contemplate pissing yourself as to dragging your sorry ass to the bathroom and using the toilet like a competent, able bodied adult.

      • Brent August 30, 2018, 7:32 pm

        Thanks for this response.

      • Lola August 31, 2018, 5:24 am

        Your comment was worth a million bucks. I pray for balance everyday.

  • Gwyn October 19, 2016, 5:52 am

    I have suffered from low dopamine and depression. The best things I have found to help me are: a healthy protein rich diet, low alcohol, L-Theanine, 200mg of 5htp a day, GABA when feeling anxious and above and beyond all that – Kundalini yoga. Kundalini yoga has fixed my whole endocrine system- after years of trying so many things, this is what makes me feel good – give it a try!

  • Lauren October 1, 2016, 9:56 pm

    I believe I suffer from DIS as a result of autistic traits, possible fibromyalgia, and hearing loss. I do not have autism or Asperger’s, but it runs wild in my family history and I am dead sure that I got some of it; I just do not possess social aspects of the ‘condition’ (or perhaps I am a master of mimicry and that is how I ‘pass’ as socially typical). Auditory stimulation is intrinsically liked to my ability to experience pleasure and happiness much moreso than it is for most people; I would not be surprised if sound stimulates a great deal of dopamine production in my brain relative to other stimulants.

    This may well be tied into some of my autistic characteristics and an atypical wiring of some parts of sensory processing in my brain. I also used to have dog-like hearing, which set the bar pretty high for my brain in terms of how much stimulation I was accustomed to. With my hearing going south as a result of (possibly fibromyalgia), drug poisoning (topamax), loud noise exposures, and migraines, I have suffered from severe depression (the suicidal, unable-to-feel emotions kind).

    It seems to be the result of slowly losing both music and nature sounds. When I listen to either, my depression is lifted instantly for the duration of the sound; the world is suddenly alive and contains a great deal more depth to it. When I am deprived of both, especially music for a long time, my experience of life begins to contain no emotional content, no pleasure.

    I feel like a zombie living in a weightless body. Doesn’t matter if I am in the pristine mountains of the high rockies or ‘having fun’ with friends. I don’t feel anything on the inside. I am unable to get adequate pleasure and happiness from vision alone, and what is worse is that I constantly feel lost and confused and ‘lost’ in the visual world, as if my mind has trouble coordinating my internally-experienced present with the visual present.

    It has caused dissociation, agnosia, other problems consistent with other psychiatric disorders. I essentially feel brain damaged in a way. I really wish there was a way to get my hearing back. It would be the only true cure to my condition in a way depression medications cannot be. I’ve been on a few and most of the meds have only made me sicker. Sad thing is, not enough people or investors yet care about real, biological cures for hearing (only promote stigmatizing and imperfect devices like CI’s and hearing aids) to the point where a real cure could come in more than a decade.

    Could be too late for me; barely hanging on by a thread as it is in the present and am getting ready to begin filling out assisted suicide paperwork. It is just the way my brain was wired; I desperately need sound in order for the rest of my mind to function and to experience adequate levels of pleasure. Wish I wasn’t born this way but what can one do?

  • Junee August 29, 2016, 3:30 am

    I am dealing with low dopamine right now and am seeing several specialists to rule out what the cause could be. My life has changed completely from being very active to not being able to get up anymore. It started about 3 years ago, when I was in my mid 30’s, with severe Fatigue. All the sudden, I could not do the things that I would usually do (go for walks or exercise, go out with friends, cook etc).

    I felt so fatigued, completely out of energy. Then it got so bad that I couldn’t keep up with my job anymore. I was sent to a sleep lab study to see how my sleep was… there they found that I had severe Limb Movement Disorder. They checked my iron levels (low iron can sometimes cause that) but everything was normal. Back then I didn’t think that the Limb Movement Disorder was the cause of my Fatigue and didn’t pay anymore attention to it anymore (today I know that low dopamine can cause LMD).

    About 20 months ago came the slow onset of a severe Depression – the Depression got eventually so bad that got so bad that I had to hospitalized (about 10 months later). Then the Anhedonia set in (inability to enjoy pleasure, loss of all my interests). With that the Fatigue worsened to a point where I could not get out of bed anymore and the smallest tasks, like washing my hair, were a big take on and hard to accomplish.

    My doctors treated me with SSRIs for Major Depressive Disorder, but they had no effect at all. Then they tried to treat me with stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, with no effect on my energy levels at all either (I think that is because my Dopamine production is diminished to a point where even these stimulants have no effect). Nor I or the doctors had an idea what was going on until about 6 months ago When I started to have Galactorrhea (Breast Milk) without being pregnant…

    That’s when the doctors started to test everything… Hormone Levels, Thyroid, Mammograms were done and what not. Everything seemed to be in the normal range – No explanation. I started to become really really suspicious that this Galactorrhea would have something to do with my mood, depression and the fatigue – so I started an extensive research (after all I had all day to myself in bed and lots of time to read).

    I came across articles that described how Dopamine regulates the Prolactin in the body (and breast milk) and how low Dopamine could cause someone to have the Galactorrhea. So I read about Dopamine Deficiency and its Symptoms and it all started to make sense. I urged my doctor to put me on Wellbutrin (a Dopamine Antagonist) and take me off the SSRI. I was still suffering very badly from severe Depression and Anhedonia.

    At the lower doses like 75-150 mg of Wellbutrin nothing happened… no effect. I urged my doctor to upper my dose of Wellbutrin to 300 and then 450 and all the sudden it started to have a positive effect on my Depression… the Anhedonia decreased severely and the Depression improved to a point where I can handle it OK. My first success! Now we knew that low dopamine must be the “problem”.

    The Galactorrhea never stopped though and the Fatigue and Weakness never improved either. Then, about 6 weeks ago, I started to have severe muscle pain in one shoulder… I thought I must have slept funny. One week passed, two weeks… the muscle pain got worse. Then it started to spread to my arm, then to the neck and the other shoulder… it worsened with every week. By now it affects both shoulders, my neck, my arms, and I have muscle pain in both legs… my muscles hurt and feel very stiff.

    I think that this is all related to the low dopamine and am going through all kinds of medical tests at the moment. I hope it’s not a neuromuscular disease that is developing (like Parkinson which is caused by low dopamine), but I know that there is something really really wrong with my body.
    I am so weak by now that, on most days, all I can do is sit or lay on the couch. It sucks – I hate being like this.

    I can’t do the things I loved to do. But I don’t want to give up yet… what keeps me going is my husband and the feeling that the cause of what I have can be found and be treated. One of the tests that I’m going to have is an MRI of the Pituitary Gland (where Dopamine is being produced) to rule out tumors and such.

    If anyone has a similar story or some input and wants to share it with me, please email me to nova.germans[@]yahoo.com. Thanks for reading my story!

  • Lori August 15, 2016, 2:47 pm

    Those of you suffering from low dopamine levels, please check out this youtube. It could be life changing. It has been for my husband! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L7fV8S9CSM&feature=youtu.be. You will need to copy and paste into your web browser.

    • Debi September 4, 2016, 8:39 pm

      Thanks for sharing this Lori – Could you say a bit more about how this worked for your husband? One thing I can’t exactly tell is if you have to take it forever, or if your brain actually learns how to naturally balance the neurotransmitters. Also, why wouldn’t a great whey protein work in the same way if it is loaded with all the amino acids?… Just curious about your experience with the supplement. Thanks.

  • scott August 4, 2016, 8:29 pm

    4 months ago, my son was taking up to 1500 of Phenylalanine a day without side effects, except for drowsiness. Now anytime he takes 500mg of tyrosine, he goes to sleep for 4-8 hours. Did he burn out the receptors, therefore causing sedation with even small amounts? He does complain about losing interest in most things.

    This has intrigued and confused me for some time. He has never took drugs, except for Depakote, Ability and Ritalin 7 years ago. Your site does note the possible side effect of drowsiness with tyrosine, but does not offer an explanation: mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/08/02/l-tyrosine-side-effects-adverse-reactions-list.

    I have read where AMPT can have a sedative effects, including sleepiness, fatigue and decreased subjective alertness. I do not have much of an understanding of AMPT, but could the explain why some “drug free” individuals have this same sedative effect with 500mg of tyrosine or phenylalanine? If there is not a connection to AMPT, do you know if there is any other explanation to the sedative response that some individuals have with tyrosine?

  • Rosemary Lyndall Wemm August 2, 2016, 6:28 am

    I have dopamine insufficiency syndrome with severe restless leg syndrome and muscle twitching, especially on the left side where I sustained damage consequent to back surgery. I am currently ramping up on a drug used to treat Parkinson’s Disease and expect to start feeling better in a week or two. The twitching has already disappeared and the restless leg problem has almost gone.

    Side effect is that I fall asleep at the drop of a hat. Like just now. :-) Worse than previously. I hope this improves as I get used to the medication. I have been taking an SNRI which may explain why I have no symptoms of depression.

    I am not anxious, unless you count my avoidance of doing new things without someone with me, or my preference for staying home rather than going out.

  • julina July 31, 2016, 9:27 am

    I have Aspergers syndrome, I just went through a stressful patch and have suffered burn out, now I don’t feel like myself, am in a daze, had a near miss when I walked in front of a bus before I noticed it, am having these symptoms more worse than ever and I’m walking around with “low dopamine face” you know the one, with wide-as-owl eyes blank stare, it’s like the eye muscles under the eyes and over the cheeks can’t even be bothered any more, the only part of my face that expresses is my forehead, so I am getting Albert Einstein wrinkles.

    Really I don’t even care for the other symptoms as I’m used to them in my life with ADD symptoms, but walking around with low dopamine face is just the final straw. I don’t even look like me at the moment. I ate some chicken liver to cheer me up, felt the hit, so nice. Might need something stronger though.

  • Peter Crispin July 14, 2016, 2:30 pm

    I suffered a catastrophic head injury in 1997 that mostly impacted my parietal and frontal lobes. I have struggled a great deal with motivation, goal setting and attention to detail over the years, and it seems likely it is due to a dopamine deficiency. It’s crazy to think of living with it for all these years without even knowing…

    • Rosemary Lyndall Wemm August 2, 2016, 6:20 am

      Peter, I suspect that your symptoms are caused by damage to your frontal lobes rather than to lack of dopamine. The prefrontal areas deal with goal setting and with monitoring and organizing behavior. By all means try some natural boosters to the dopamine system, but if nothing happens do blame yourself for not doing it right.

  • Gracie May 2, 2016, 3:44 am

    I’ve struggled my entire life with major depression then it settles down to dysthymia until the next awful exacerbation. Too long a history to write here. Lots of talk therapy, lots of all kinds of drugs, I hear/feel the pain of life wasted and get so angry that we manage to treat other illnesses of other organs so quickly but the brain seems to remain such a mystery. It makes me wonder if we aren’t too focused on just drugs to help/cure.

    Although when I’m having a major bout the last thing I can manage is figuring out all the nutritional information and exercise. Never mind managing the stimulation of driving, the grocery store, preparing food or navigating the gym. It’s much easier to reach for a pill no matter if it’s an Rx, OTC, or supplement and hope it makes a difference. I’ve often wondered about the dopamine effects so finding this interesting.

    I’ve added neurofeedback to my plethora of “hope it helps” stuff. Nothing invasive, no shocks to the brain. Using a doctor I know and trust. Maybe it’s voodoo medicine but probably no more than trying to figure out drug combos specially when one of the manufacturer’s first statements is (paraphrasing) not really sure how this works but… I only hope scientists keep trying.

    The drug companies, their money and research resources are needed, but I’m putting my faith in the one nerd scientist who’s challenged by finding the answer.

  • Ross April 30, 2016, 7:09 pm

    Taking L-tyrosine alone only made me more angry and irritable. I recently added 50-100mg of 98% mucuna pruriens extract (standardized for L-dopa). Colors are brighter, I feel more motivated, and am much more slow to anger. I find I can even cry again, whereas before I just felt nothing. I can’t say I would recommend this route to people already seeing a psychiatrist or on meds without their knowledge or approval. I don’t take prescription meds.

  • sujay April 21, 2016, 8:07 am

    Yes. Reading my own voice through Stuart. Everything was rosy one year back. Panic attack started and I melted them away forever by the way of accepting them. But the physical symptoms like discomfort in chest and stomach whenever I move thrashed me in this state. Still try to enjoy my life ignoring physical symptoms. Hope one day it will be fine. No medication. But after one year thinking about medication and neurotransmitter level tests.

  • Arya April 19, 2016, 7:28 pm

    I have ADD due to low dopamine levels. Wish I had realized it sooner. ADD isn’t something people are aware off or believe in, here in India. But I’ve been taking medicine for almost a year now and I have gotten better. Tough one major problem is that I keep forgetting to take my medicine. Meditating really helps.

    The thing I hate the most is when people ask me if I’m sure I have ADD because they think that I should be running around class or jumping from benches. So I prefer not to tell it to anyone except my close friends and family. There are times when I hate it but I’ve come to realize that this has shaped me to be the person I am today.

    It’s not an extra element but a part of my personality and I should learn to embrace it.

  • Dena April 16, 2016, 12:10 pm

    I have suffered from anxiety, depression and concentration for about 15 years. However at age of 18 I reached out to my doctor who prescribed lexapro. It worked well but some days my mind was fogged, unmotivated and sad. I started working out regularly and I noticed a little difference. But in my mind I felt like the whole world was moving around and living life and I was at a stand still.

    I felt not normal. I had a traumatic experience happen 2 years ago and that’s when everything was at its complete worse. It’s so hard to describe these feelings to someone because you either feel shame or know that they don’t understand what your going through… then I developed social anxiety. I went to therapy and saw a new psychiatrist.

    I was already on lexapro but she recommended Wellbutrin too. Also, instructed me to take 1 klonopin a day. Let me tell you it was a relief because I feel as if I hadn’t been medicated correctly for years. I have some bad days, but I’m now able to enjoy my life. Feel happiness again, motivation and be social.

    I encourage people with the above symptoms to see a pysciatrist. You maybe not be on the correct medication. We deserve to feel happiness and we need to support each other. God bless.

  • a boy April 1, 2016, 4:10 pm

    Recently seen a psychiatrist recommended by my therapist because I have had suicide thoughts for the past 6 months (I am 16). I broke my knee twice and lost everything that I had; (friends, ability in sports, speed, enjoyment) and now I have gained weight and have even felt the decrease in my motivation to play video games anymore. I’ve been prescribed with a dosage of 200mg of dopamine (basically) and have not taken any yet. I dread anyone and everyone I see and absolutely hate sunny days or going outside. I still play sports but at a lower level than before which makes me feel even worse (lacrosse).

  • Alexandra Duarte March 27, 2016, 12:26 am

    The symptoms listed describe my experience precisely. It’s crazy to think that I’ve never dealt with such things until a few months ago, and unfortunately haven’t really had much of a break since. I’m currently on Zoloft at 25mg because the 50mg my psychiatrist gave me terrible headaches and heart racing. It really hasn’t had much of an effect besides the fact, anyways I think the cause of all this is chronic stress, and luckily Its spring break so I won’t have to deal with school for a while. So far I’m feeling better not having to force myself to wake up and socialize. Even the depersonalization is subsiding. Good luck guys!

  • Jen March 16, 2016, 2:49 pm

    Discovered this site and the excellent descriptions described my symptoms to a T. Does anyone have anything more to report on the extended use of L-Tyrosine?

    • Esteban March 18, 2016, 10:07 pm

      I have some issues with this. Tyrosine is an amino acid found in most sources of protein, but it’s not even an essential one. Your body, in the absence of sufficient Tyrosine, shouldn’t have any problem upregulating it’s own production to meet physiological needs. Yes, tyrosine is a precursor of dopamine, but even if one is deficient in tyrosine, simply taking a supplement orally isn’t going to ensure that your body will use it to produce dopamine.

      Tyrosine is utilized for a number of reasons, including the maintenance and creation of new tissue. Tyrosine is just one component in a biosynthesis pathway with many steps. Tyrosine itself must go through it’s own biochemical changes before you have the molecule that plays a part in dopamine synthesis. Whatever the case, it most certainly isn’t going to hurt you by loading up on tyrosine.

      To sum it up, tyrosine may help some, but it’s only likely to help those with low dopamine due to tyrosine deficiency. Being such a complicated issue, there are a lot of different ways the dopamine pathway can go wrong, and even if it goes right, there’s no guarantee that it’ll get to the tissues where it’s needed. A big piece to this puzzle is the fact that many neurotransmitters are produced in significant quantities in the intestines.

      If you have a busted gut from excessive animal protein consumption and a lack of dietary fiber, the ability to produce neurotransmitter in sufficient quantity may be compromised. Again, this is a hugely complicated issue that even top biological scientists have a hard time solving. Try the tyrosine and use it if it works for you, but don’t expect a magic bullet cure.

      • Bill March 19, 2016, 8:08 pm

        Tyrosine itself is not “essential” because it can be made from phenylalanine, which is. It is possible to be deficient in tyrosine if besides lacking tyrosine there is not enough phenylalanine as well.

    • Esteban March 18, 2016, 11:00 pm

      Additionally, it’s important to mention that dopamine doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier, so any dopamine acting as neurotransmitter in the brain, was produced in the brain.

  • Tina March 7, 2016, 9:11 pm

    Hi everyone, do low dopamine levels lead to hypersensitivity to noise and sound? Recently I OD’ed on MDMA, and 3 weeks later I’m still hypersensitive which has left imprisoned in my own room. I had used mdma on 3-4 occasions (very low doses) during the past 18 months. But this time I OD’ed on it (250mgs) the adverse effects suggest the mdma was cut with something which produces dopamine (involuntary speech/muscle movement). Have you ever come across or experienced hypersensitivity? Will it go away? My life is hell at the moment. Female, 34, smoker.

    • Esteban March 18, 2016, 5:58 pm

      While it is nearly impossible to tell based on such limited, anecdotal evidence, I’ll tell you what I know. First, some studies indicate that MDMA may have an action on dopamine levels similar to it’s action on serotonin, though not enough information is available to be conclusive. It could be responsible for the palilalia and dyskinesia you described.

      I’m curious as to how these presented. Did you spout nonsense and repeated syllables uncontrollably, or was it that you couldn’t help but say everything that came to mind? And how did the movement present itself? Secondly, it’s possible that your stuff was cut with methamphetamine. In my experience, this is actually quite common.

      Meth is very dopaminergic, and when combined with MDMA, the experience can be hard to isolate, because the effects are similar. Hypersensitivity to light and sound can be symptoms of either serotonin or dopamine deficiency. Considering it’s been three weeks since the OD, I have two major theories. First, you may have actually damaged some of the cells and receptors that respond to these neurotransmitters, making them less responsive to normal levels.

      Considering that fact that dopamine and serotonin are secreted in large amounts in tissues other than the brain, it’s unlikely that the cells producing these molecules were damaged sufficiently to see the aforementioned symptoms. Secondly, the hypersensitivity could be a result of post traumatic stress following such a scary, potentially life-threatening experience.

      In either case, I suggest you seek professional counsel. Whether it’s a physician, a physiatrist or any other psychological professional, don’t leave any of the gritty details out for fear of consequences. You are protected by laws that stipulate a strict confidence between these professionals and yourself.

      They would be the ones to get in trouble for breaking that confidence. Also, check the facts. When it comes to urban legend, misinformation, and people regurgitating unverified claims they heard on the street, the “scene” is about the worst. Hold anything you read online to the same standard. Did they offer citation, at least upon request?

    • sientos July 29, 2016, 7:11 am

      Hi’ Tina, it’s good that your making this awareness because I’m suffering for the past few years with hypersensitivity sound snd noise in one ear. I went to an ENT where the doctor sent me to take test if I have a tumor. Luckily The results were negative and I intended to ignore it and hopping it will go away. But unfortunately it hadn’t got better but instead in the past year it my ear became hypersensitive to even low pitched sound.

      With taking in consideration I was getting too often strong headaches in the past year and I was told by my neurologist to take an MRI. To be said luckily the results were negative again. The neurologist told me it’s all stress but I still couldn’t swallow it because I wasn’t having any specific stress more than before. Time passed and the hypersensitivity to sound was just unbearable so I decided to go back to the ENT.

      And to my surprise the ENT said the cause to it is because stress. At the same time I’m Currently having issues with concentrating and remembering things often that leads me to some major headaches. I happened of went today to my physician to discuss the cause to all of this. To my shock the doctor said it’s anxiety and this is the cause to it. I was totally shocked because I never imagined I suffer from anxiety.

      The doctor wanted to prescribe me medication but I told him I first might wanna try first doing therapy and if that won’t work I’ll try medication. I came home after coming from the doctor started researching what’s anxiety and what’s the cause of it and how to cure anxiety. It was a bit interesting because I found to be one of the causes to anxiety is a chemical imbalance where that can happen due to low dopamine where I researched it too and the symptoms of low dopamine was very similar to mine.

      I’m currently trying to find the right supplements for low dopamine. Now that you’re doubting if low dopamine is the cause to hypersensitivity, I really also think it’s the cause to it. Since the sensitivity to my ear was the same time that I started having concentration issues, including hard time to remember what I learned. Thanks for your awareness.

  • Suganya January 26, 2016, 9:46 pm

    I have schizophrenia for that they prescribe, blocking dopamine activity injection. Since that I have severe side effects. I tried to suicide several times. So I research on the internet about dopamine and I came the conclusion that dopamine deficiency is the problem. I am trying to eat dopamine boosting foods. That seems like it’s helping me.

  • john January 19, 2016, 7:54 pm

    I am having all the symptoms listed as described for low dopamine. Today is a day 2 of taking L-tyrosine. Not getting angry yet. No other symptoms. Will post my progress after a week.

    • Jared January 21, 2016, 8:52 am

      Any update on the tyrosine? I don’t see a date so not sure when you posted that. But I was going to buy some and wanted to see how it’s going for you.

  • Stuart January 4, 2016, 12:55 pm

    I’m without a doubt suffering from dopamine deficiency. All the symptoms described here I have except anxiety, which you said is rare anyway. I was diagnosed with major depression 11 years ago, and the following year diagnosed with ADHD. I’ve been on a dozen antidepressants. The only thing that has helped is being prescribed dexamphetamine to treat the ADHD.

    I have never abused it or taken too many, but I’ve  been taking it every day (as well as antidepressants) for the last 10 years, and I know without a doubt I’m addicted to it. In the beginning, it used to last me all day. Now I’m lucky if the effect lasts 3 hours before I feel instantly unmotivated, fatigued and depressed. I sit at my computer every day, and have done so almost every other day for the past 9 years. This I think was caused by my need for stimulation. 

    The lack of motivation is really having a negative impact on my life though. I just finished completing a university degree (my 4th attempt at studies) which was a struggle but even though I did get through it and I’m now qualified, I’m sitting here every day unemployed, almost 31 years old, and dependent on my parents because I have zero motivation to do anything. I don’t enjoy anything anymore.

    I don’t have the energy or desire to work. Yet I hate sitting doing nothing too. I don’t enjoy games, TV. Nothing. And it’s gotten even worse since I turned 30 with the pressures of society, moving out of home etc. I want to move out but I don’t have enough motivation to do what’s needed! My motivation levels are so low these days that as soon as the medication wears off (about midday), I’ll go and slump on the couch and wait for the day to pass, all the while having to put up with the wear-off effect of the medication which lasts the rest of the day (it’s like being injected with a drug that causes instant depressive fatigue).

    I’ve started drinking almost every day for the past 3 or 4 months. Fortunately, unlike the dex, the alcohol hasn’t turned into an  addiction. I don’t feel like I NEED alcohol like I do with my meds. I just resort to it because it takes my mind off life. If only for a while. But even that causes complications because of the medications I’m on (currently Dex, Effexor, Sertraline and Lithium). I’m someone who has never even put a cigarette to their mouth let alone done illegal drugs, but I think the long term use of the prescribed medication, particularly the dexamphetamine, has had a negative impact.

    But what’s the solution to that when the only reason I was prescribed it was for the ADHD?! Personally I wish I could just clear all the medications out of my system, but I don’t want the ADHD to affect me again like it did in high school, where I was struggling to focus on work or anything. I have no reason to even be alive anymore. No one to love, no one to live for or care for (anyone who has even experienced a relationship is already better off than me). To be lonely yet fearful to do anything about it is the worst combination.

    I have no purpose or goal that makes any sense. I don’t understand why we’re even here! And my religious background hasn’t shed any more light on it either. No one knows. I’ve contemplated suicide many times. But ironically even suicide requires motivation, a surge of anger or something. I simply don’t have the energy. I wish someone would just shoot me. It would be so much easier. But then of course my family will have to live in pain to deal with my suicide. There is just no solution. I wish I was never born.

    I really find it unfair that I (and others)  have to live a life like this. It’s actually worse than a physical disability. To not want to continue living is probably the worst condition anyone could have. I would honestly prefer to live the rest of my life as a cripple in a wheelchair, or as a slave just so long as I actually had a REASON to live. I’m really at a loss. So desperate that I’m probably writing this to no-one but doing it anyway.

    I’ve lost hope in everything. Medication, psychiatrists, God. I just wish someone could end it for me.

    • Leahy January 5, 2016, 8:10 am

      Stuart, your comment really affected me a lot when I read it (randomly here after a google search on withdrawing from Ritalin!). I wish I had answers for you or some sort of wise words that may help you see the light that currently appears dim for you. I don’t, but I wanted to say ((hugs)) and that I hope you have someone in your life that you can confide your feelings in and who can support you in finding a way back to *yourself* and the person you are inside.

      I don’t really know why I have responded here considering I have nothing of worthwhile to contribute or to make a difference, but I just couldn’t ignore your comment and felt it was important to let you know someone heard you. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help IRL if you need it.

      • Stuart January 8, 2016, 9:38 am

        Thanks Leahy, I appreciate the words anyway. I already see two psychiatrists (one specializes in ADHD) who have tried everything on me. After mentioning the suicide, my main psychiatrist is planning on putting me into a clinic. Of course I need health cover for that and the minimum waiting period is a year for pre-existing conditions.

        Life for me is like a prison with an unknown sentence date. I hate it. I just wish I had the freedom to leave without harming anyone. I’ve prayed constantly without any difference. If medicine and religion can’t provide a solution why should I even continue to live. Family and friends may be traumatized by a person’s suicide, yet completely ignorant of the pain they suffer while still alive.

        Or if they are aware, then like everybody else, they just don’t have any answers. But if they thought of it as an END to that person’s suffering, maybe they’d be able to see it as the best outcome. I live in a country where euthanasia is illegal. People always want to prolong the life of others, regardless of the pain the other person’s enduring. Are they really thinking about that person or about themselves?

        Euthanasia… Suicide… They’re not the answers, no. Let’s just wait another 20 years and see if it gets better. Who cares how bad it gets? There is no freedom in life. We were never given a choice to live in the first place. And we don’t have the choice to leave without transmitting pain. I don’t expect answers from anyone. It’s just frustrating that it exists. Maybe getting cancer is the only realistic hope I have left.

        • Bobby January 14, 2016, 2:52 pm

          Hi Stuart, I urge you to join a local gym and start going there and exerting yourself every day. I also urge you to take up an interest in nutrition and healthy eating and start implementing what you learn into your daily life.

        • Jen January 23, 2016, 7:39 pm

          Stuart, I feel for you, I do, because I’ve been there. But REALLY think about WHAT you’re saying!!! Being a cancer survivor myself, AND having a special needs son, I can tell you, WE do not have it so bad!!! I know at times it may feel that way, but all you have to do is quit thinking about yourself for a moment, look around, there are children (in THIS country) that don’t have food to eat, that do not have a safe place to sleep at night, babies left because of their disabilities, to spend their lives in institutions with out love, a good percentage of them dying because they do not get held when they’re born. My friend, we are loved, we have shelter, food, we are able to share with those less fortunate, you can not imagine what a gift that is… there are days I cannot get out of bed… but when you help someone, it helps you so MUCH MORE!!! All the best!!! -XO

          • Reign of Error May 21, 2016, 11:09 am

            Holy crap. Blame the victim??? He can’t help how he feels regardless of how many other people are in any specific situation that you personally perceive as worse than his. This is a common problem that exacerbates depression in people. Not that other people tell them to stop being so self-centered and start thinking of how much better you have it than these poor starving orphans.

            The fact is, depressed people know that already. They feel guilty that they are moping over something when there are so many people in the world that do amazing things and pull themselves up from poverty to do. It is a guilt that is already there, depression happens to every kind of person, those in poverty to those who don’t need to ever worry about financial issues.

            I realise you are trying to be kind with your message and that is not lost on me. When we are depressed, it isn’t something that changes when we think of poor people or amputees or starving orphans. It’s chronic and consistent throughout everything you do. It hurts so much for some people that death is preferable. Just because you can’t visually see the pain, it doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there.

          • Hello??? February 15, 2017, 10:44 pm

            OMG!!!! Jen is a complete dolt. Stuart can’t have any problems because other people do??! That is *the worst* way to try and help: its anti-help!

            Don’t listen to Jen. I hope you are doing better and have at least started walking outside, even if it is only ten minutes a day (easier said than done, I know. I’m going through it myself right now).

        • Calliope July 23, 2016, 3:17 am

          Stuart: Your comment has really affected me. I have been in a fairly bad place for about 3 years now and am slowly climbing up a little. You sound frustrated, angry, and depressed. If there is nothing that gives you pleasure just try to ride it out. I wish there was a support group near to us that either of us could go to. I already see a therapist, but I think I would like a small group to attend also.

        • Ian August 31, 2016, 8:18 am

          I hope you don’t get cancer I have had five bouts including pancreatic and prostate with whipples and radical prostatectomy it’s no fun. Just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. There is always someone worse than you and me. Get off your arse and start exercising and eating properly you will feel like new man. And get off the drugs. Your doctor will help you if you let him.

        • JUNAID February 3, 2017, 8:31 pm

          Hi Stuart, I’m Dr Junaid from Pakistan. Dear I’ve seen many cases like you cured by a phenomenal guy Tony Robbins. You can listen to his programs for self-help on YouTube. And I myself gained so much help from his work to deal with my health challenges. Best of luck and Live Strong.

    • Billy February 18, 2016, 12:55 pm

      Stuart, I have been on antidepressants for 20 years and they have a stabilizing affect on me but I am convinced now that it is a dopamine problem with me and I am going to start today to take something. I started Psychotherapy 18 months ago and have found that this is really helpful and would urge you to not only try it, but to stick with it.

      Also I have joined a gym and lost weight through exercise and healthy eating, I seem to be turning the corner slowly but I am now convinced that I can beat this depression. Stick with it and you will improve.

    • Dawn February 18, 2016, 7:12 pm

      I felt every word you wrote. I am sorry you are suffering so much. I feel a lot like you do. Stuck in between life and death. No happiness no motivation and feeling like no one understands. It’s an accomplishment if I get out of bed and take a shower. I have a daughter I live for her but I wonder sometimes if she would be better off without me. I am worried she will be like me. It’s no way to live.

      • Reign of Error May 21, 2016, 11:20 am

        Dawn, have you seen a professional about these feelings? I think it is difficult to make sure you get good nutrition when you feel so depressed and everything just seems incredibly difficult to do. I started improving nutrition slowly but using supplements and improving diet over time. Foods containing Tryptophan are import for you body to be able to make Serotonin and other things.

        Foods containing L-Phenylalanine are important for your body to make L-Tyrosine, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine and thyroid hormone. You can supplement these while you are trying to improve your diet. You will need other nutrients in addition to these essential amino acids as they are also required in the synthesis of the catecholamines.

        If you are taking certain types of antidepressant medication you will need to check with your doctor if you can take these supplements otherwise there is no problem at all. And exercise. :) I know it isn’t easy but you don’t have to view it as one big change to make all at once, you can gradually make changes slowly and celebrate all your small successes as you go, that is one way that I have found I can get somewhere I want to be when the entire process of getting there appears like an enormous hurdle.

        Best Wishes to you and daughter.

    • Jonathan March 2, 2016, 11:52 am

      I’m reading it, I’m feeling similar to you but I’ve managed to get through life better (so far and just about) but I’ve just hit a big wall at 41 and I’m looking for a way through this one. I’ve been looking into the effects of low dopamine and think this may be the cause of my symptoms and problems. Sounds like this could be your problem too and you need a ponder dopamine raising solutions… not just a short term boost which lowers levels in the long term.

    • Vin April 12, 2016, 9:54 pm

      Hey man, I am in the exact same boat. I would like to talk with you if possible? Maybe we can try and find something to help us. Please add me on FB if you have it or give me some way to get in contact. I know exactly what you are feeling as I am feeling it. https://www.facebook.com/vinvan82

    • Barbara April 16, 2016, 3:51 pm

      Hey Stuart! I feel for you with everything you said!! I have someone I know who is going through the same thing… But there was one thing you said that HIT me! You had ADHD since high school!! Do you know, most kids out grow it?! They learn how to redirect it somewhere else by their mid twenties!

      My daughter was diagnosed with it in elementary. By highschool she picked up drum sticks… Music and arts help those with ADHD… She is now 23 a hyper, fun-loving massage therapist. The joy of a party, heck she makes her own. She refuses the meds because of the lost zombie feeling. She wants to feel life.

      Talk to your doc about possible decreasing your meds, go to the gym. Find groups to walk with. Pick up a hobby. Shoot, maybe drum sticks… You never know. You might just be medicating yourself for something you might not even have anymore! Ten years is a long time! Hugs

      • Reign of Error May 21, 2016, 10:59 am

        Stopping amphetamine use after years of chronic use is easier said than done, same can be said for any drug that increases neurotransmitters or binds to receptors but that is a good point you have. The problem is that he is seriously in a bad way. He is still taking amphetamines at the same dose so the worst that he should experience if there is no ADHD type disorder is just to feel like someone who takes no medication to increase dopamine.

        It’s like a balance, you take the amphetamine that increases dopamine, your brain upregulates the dopamine receptors over time to account for the extra dopamine and then you are back at the point you were at before starting any dopaminergic medication. If you stop taking it, your dopamine production goes down and your brain perceives it as a deficiency and you experience symptoms that reflect that “deficiency”.

      • Julia Willson September 19, 2016, 5:43 am

        People who actually have ADHD don’t grow out of it. Often children who ‘grow out of it’ were misdiagnosed. I have been diagnosed and re-diagnosed (at 6 and then in my twenties) for this very reason. I was first tested and diagnosed at age 6. Then once in my 20s, I was re-tested.

        A lot of kids continue to get ADD meds from a family doctor so psychiatrists like to re-test people to make sure that it wasn’t symptoms brought on by other things like increased stress or generalized anxiety disorder…or just being a kid. People with ADHD totally can live without meds. I cannot, because I find it affects my relationships, my ability to be responsible and follow through on what I desire (which causes mental anguish), my work performance, and so on and so forth.

        It makes me late because I’ve forgotten something 4 times. I walk into rooms and can’t remember what I was doing /all/ the time, not occasionally. I never remember which direction my car is parked or which direction on the street I came from when I come out of a building. I interrupt people I care about…repeatedly. I can be very impulsive in the way I treat people or the things I do… like simply reacting to something I find funny, but it’s actually terribly insensitive to react that way but I can’t censor it.

        I’ve had times where I can’t stop talking to people and dominating the conversation, and am actually annoying myself. /All/ of these symptoms have been present since I was little. Some get worse when I have aggravated a comorbid condition such as depression or anxiety… but I’ve also experienced these without stress or anxiety present. It just makes it a lot tougher.

        My point is, it’s just not true that people grow out of ADHD and that’s generally not medically accepted opinion anymore given the research done since the 90s.

    • Reign of Error May 21, 2016, 10:45 am

      Hi Stuart, I thought I would just share a bit about how I ended up taking ritalin then dexamphetamine and some things that I discovered about dopamine and myself I guess. It may not be relevant to your individual situation though. I had a heavy opiate addiction for a couple of years. One that had escalated to a really dangerous level.

      I had attempted to stop on many occasions but the withdrawal symptoms would just last for days making me bedridden, sleep was impossible and I would become quite delirious (from sleep deprivation I guess), inevitably I would have to start using again so that I could work since my brother and I are partners in a fairly successful IT company and I was needed for some tasks that only I had the experience to do. Then my father found out that he had lung cancer. He died about a year later and I overdosed on a stupid combination of many different drugs ending up in hospital for a few days.

      After I was home again I had depression again like I always had but I didn’t start using again, the worst of the withdrawal symptoms had passed while I was unconscious in hospital so with sedative medication and other meds I was able to stay sober. The problem was that I was so depressed that I was suicidal. I ended up referred to a Psychiatrist and he started me on antidepressants and ritalin. It was like night and day, the ritalin just lifted me from the worst place I have been in my life and I was able to return to work part time back then.

      The problem with the drugs that increase dopamine is that the brain upregulates the dopamine receptors to try to achieve homeostasis effectively making more dopamine receptors so that more dopamine is needed to achieve the same effect that you used to get with a lower dose. Obviously, you can increase the dose but only to a point, then you need to take a “drug holiday”. Abstaining from dopamine type medications for a couple of weeks or more will let your tolerance to the medication go down again.

      Of course, you will not feel good during this time so it is important to have supportive people with you. Ritalin and amphetamines (dexamphetamine included) increase dopamine in your brain but they do it in different ways. Catecholamines (Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine) are made in your brain and body by metabolizing essential amino acids that you can only get from your diet.

      One of them is L-Phenylalanine, the other is L-Tyrosine. Your body can make L-Tyrosine from L-Phenylalanine. The process goes like this: Phenylalanine -> L-Dopa ->Dopamine ->Norepinephrine -> Epinephrine. The way Ritalin increases dopamine is by blocking the chemicals in your brain that break down dopamine so that dopamine is able to build up. It is normal for your brain to break down neurotransmitters and excrete them as it makes new ones and releases them to do their jobs.

      The way amphetamines work is that they stimulate the synapse to release stored dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin but they do nothing to inhibit the brain’s action of reabsorbing these neurotransmitters, breaking them down and excreting them. So this particular method of increasing dopamine can be sensitive to a diet that is lacking in the essential amino acids and the supporting vitamins and minerals that are required for your body to make these catecholamines. My experience changing from Ritalin to dex was good, for a few days.

      It worked better and I needed a lower dose but it stopped working quickly. I researched this info and started supplementing L-Tyrosine and vitamins, minerals etc. Omega-3 fatty acid (DHA) is also implicated in helping to increase dopamine so I take it for that reason and other reasons. After a day of supplementing, the medication started to work well again, but not only that, my mood increased noticeably and I wasn’t expecting that.

      I know I’m not taking the medication for the same reason you are but the theories are still relevant. If you are feeling as bad as you sound then I imagine finding motivation to consume quality food is damn near impossible so I wouldn’t be surprised if you are lacking some important nutrients. Alcohol is a really bad idea, not because of any reason other than it is complicating the problem so that if you make changes to try to help with your issues and you are drinking alcohol regularly, you won’t know if the change you made was helpful or if the alcohol is negating any beneficial effects you might have achieved.

      If you are drinking enough to get drunk it can definitely remove vitamin B12 from your liver where the body stores most of the B12. B12 is another important vitamin for cognitive function, if you become seriously deficient in B12 it will be a serious problem for your cognitive function. The liver stores so much B12 that people can go for years sometimes on a diet that has no B12 before they start to suffer symptoms of deficiency.

      Exercise is really important too. It doesn’t matter really what you do as long as it is getting your heart pumping but once you are getting some stamina, strenuous exercises like lifting weights etc have been shown to be the best type of exercise for this. The hardest part of this is just getting started. If you are on antidepressants that increase serotonin (like pretty much all of them), elevated serotonin levels can lower dopamine levels.

      Many antidepressants can have side effects like apathy which obviously is not going to help with motivation to take positive actions. I hope you find relief soon. Kind Regards, Reign of Error

    • Mark August 13, 2016, 4:34 pm

      Stuart, I’m 66, afflicted with treatment resistant rapid cycling bipolar. 30 medications over 25 years plus many nutritional supplements, on disability since June, 2011, can’t even work a few hours a week because I can’t handle stress, in a dysfunctional marriage for 21 years, lost my libido/erectile function… I’m not in your shoes, but close enough to feel the emptiness and futility that you live with.

      I keep trying; seeing a psychiatrist who is also a researcher, taking testosterone shots, still experimenting with nutraceuticals and diet… but man, I’m exhausted, part from sleeping poorly, even with meds, to just feeling overwhelmed by an illness that’s relentless. I’ve never been in the military, but I think a fitting analogy would be comparing it to being in combat everyday without a break!

      The idea of suicide is a near constant companion. I derive little joy out of life. Yet, as I wrote, I keep trying. My father instilled that in me for so many years. It’s the way he lived his life as he struggled with depression. Keep on truckin’. It’s the best we can do.

    • -slobban August 24, 2016, 11:46 am

      Tried nofap?

    • Atis September 2, 2016, 1:57 pm

      Hi Stuart, Have you tried to cut on carbs (including all grains, flours, potatoes, fruits) and eat a lot of fat – cheese, butter, coconut oil, sheep meat, fat game meat? Carbs depletes dopamine by constant triggering it. Fats has everything for brain to sustain dopamine system.

      Running sprints, cold shower or swimming in the middle of workout would also help as well as hot bath after meal (just after workout). This is about to boost catabolic and anabolic metabolism what is important to keep dopamine level (brain voltage) high enough.

    • Eve September 6, 2016, 7:58 pm

      I hear you loud and clear!

    • sam October 7, 2016, 5:13 pm

      I empathize with you as I see no point to consciousness or existence and find I wish I could sleep the rest of my life. Consciousness and existence is uncomfortable and pointless. I find I wish I would lose consciousness and never awaken unless I was guaranteed and instant and permanent resolution to this crap.

      I’ve been on antidepressant meds for years and won’t risk withdrawal and the damage is permanent. I didn’t know this when I started with them. I don;t think stopping them will improve any aspect of my being. I do appreciate when I can finally fall asleep at night but the problem is I wake up in the morning. I do find smoking cigarettes comforts me a bit but it’s giving me emphysema.

    • Maryanne Schiller January 22, 2017, 7:41 pm

      I have been experiencing a very similar issue. Though mine was caused I think from a trauma. I didn’t used to be like this. There there was an accident and now the very idea of getting off the couch is too much effort. The things I used to love, like my horses, I just can’t bring myself to play with. I’m glad I have kids to feed them for me…

      I have been reading a lot about dopamine, and other amino acids and their effect on our motivation and happiness etc. I have found a great deal of help from taking a full spectrum amino acid complex (it made the worst of the depression go away) and added a B-vitamin complex and that gives some some motivation.

      It’s not back to normal yet. But I have hopes. I want to add Dex to my program as I know amphetamines help me get moving. But I really don’t want the street version to keep me going. Just some thoughts… Hugs… I hope you find something that helps.

    • Debby March 1, 2017, 8:00 am

      Hi Stuart. I hope you ignore the stupid comment from those who don’t understand. I have been so low and also felt like a waste on this Earth but have been taking a few supplements to increase dopamine and wow, it’s like I have come alive. This happened very quickly like improvement within days.

      They are green tea (3x day), rhodiola (capsules health food store), tyrosine (capsules health food store). I ate plenty of protein but these supplements have made such a difference for me. I hope it helps you as well to live life to the fullest. Don’t give up. These are safe and easy to buy. More improvement at four weeks. I wish you luck.

    • Randy March 1, 2017, 5:54 pm

      I’m sorry to see that you’re struggling so much. Considering your lack of motivation and general apathy, I do not think that SSRIs like Zoloft are good for your condition. They are well known to dampen motivation and mute emotions. You may want to consider asking your doctor about more stimulating antidepressants like Wellbutrin, or, if you have good insurance, the selegiline patch EMSAM might be ideal. Best of luck.

  • Theresa hohenberger November 19, 2015, 8:16 pm

    I have stopped drinking coffee. I was not just drinking cups but pots. Did drinking so much coffee cause low dopamine levels? I know it has triggered my migraines after I stopped caffeine.

    • Meg September 9, 2016, 5:19 am

      Actually, studies have been done that shows that coffee helps release dopamine. I looked into it after my anxiety and depression became horrendous again after I left active duty military status. I thought I was just in a temporary hole but as soon as I started downing coffee I was back to normal for a while.

  • qwerty October 3, 2015, 1:48 pm

    There’s a lot of good stuff on this website. Personally, I’ve suffered from dysthymia for at least 10 years. Tried a few SSRIs, tricyclics, benzos, ketamine and nothing worked. Finally, found a great pdoc who prescribed, first Adderall (too jittery) and next Dexedrine, which has been much better. Would like to try Desoxyn to see if it’s even better. My observation is that pdocs prescribe way too many SSRIs right off the bat.

    They take a lot of time to take effect and discontinuation syndrome is terrible. Frankly, people should try a psychostimulant like Dexedrine because it works immediately and you can quickly rule out whether there is a dopamine deficiency. Of course, these stimulants can lead to addiction for some so there is that danger but, if you are a person who are sincerely wanting help and not drugs, then go for it. Why waste many months of your life looking for the right medication when you can take a shortcut? Most doctors probably won’t go for this strategy.

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