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Serotonin and dopamine are buzzwords used frequently by health gurus and advertisers, exercise specialists and healthcare professionals. We may sagely nod our heads in agreement, but do we really understand what is dopamine and serotonin and what is the difference between dopamine and serotonin?
What are the functions of Serotonin vs dopamine?
Dopamine and serotonin are technically both neurotransmitters broadly related to ‘happiness’, however, they function in very different ways. Neurotransmitters are a crucial component in the relaying of signals between neurons in the central nervous system, thus influencing the outcome for particular organs and/or processes.
Serotonin, a neurochemical frequently called the ‘happy presecretion’, as a vast body of evidence points to it affecting certain areas of the brain related to mood, luckiness and wakefulness. High concentrations will boost cinch, self-esteem, feeling worthy and less sensitive to criticism. Found in the gut (as much as 95%), and it manages eating, sickness, processing, and solid discharges. Recent studies point to the influence of the gut biome on depression, but they have not clarified the role of serotonin. Whilst drugs such as LSD vastly increases serotonin levels, they have not proven the exact link with addiction. They have found correlations with stress hormones in stressful life events. Serotonin found in platelets plays a big role in blood, sex drive and bone density.
Dopamine, known as the ‘pleasure hormone’, aids addictive type behaviors as it rewards behavior that brings spikes of felicity in the pleasure center of the brain. Also linked to wakefulness and alertness, by suppressing the pineal gland releasing melatonin. It can benefit good behaviors as the ‘motivation molecule’, such as healthy eating or drinking enough water, but in contrast, will reinforce unwelcome behaviors such as binge eating and drinking. Recreational drugs such as methamphetimine (also known as TIK) or cocaine can block dopamine receptors, thus creating the high drug-addicts come to crave.
What is the difference between Serotonin and Dopamine?
Although dopamine serotonin message relays are similar, they have very different functions, from reward signals to mood stabilizers.
Serotonin identifies with working memory while dopamine improves learning memory. Dopamine gives rewards (for all intents and purposes any pleasurable action gives a ‘surge’ of dopamine) and in this way improves inspiration and clearness of requirements, yet could fortify undesirable practices and fabricate addictions, while serotonin helps discharge tension, gives delight and unwinding and goes about as a general state of mind promoter or temperament controller.
Serotonin dopamine sometimes works hand-in-hand with Oxytocin, a neuromodulator and a hormone, typically released during sexual intercourse or orgasms, hugging or cuddling. They often call it the ‘love hormone’. Thus, dopamine serotonin oxytocin are all neurochemicals that play a role in mental health, provided it keeps them in balance.
But how to test serotonin and dopamine levels?
Doctors will not routinely perform Neurotransmitter biochemical tests – however, several neurochemicals in platelets or their metabolites will reflect in cerebrospinal fluid. Urine testing is another non-invasive technique to determine levels. It is most likely ordered as part of an addiction recovery program, or severe depressive states.
Serotonin vs dopamine deficiency symptoms
Figuring out when you should have your levels tested or consult a mental health specialist will depend on the presence of symptoms. These will rely upon the dimensions of ‘excitatory’ synthetics, for example, dopamine, vis-à-vis serotonin, which is an inhibitory neurochemical, to offset intemperate terminating in the neurons.
A deficiency in Serotonin will include:
- Gender—women suffer from clinical depression. Men present differently, with severe drops in mood, emotional lability and higher levels of caution, which leads to anxiety and the blues.
- Negative depression—the mood is dark and gloomy, characterized by severe cynicism and distrust.
- Excessive worry and panic attacks
- Low self-esteem and sense of self-worth — they are hypercritical and experience feelings of guilt
- Issues with insomnia—disturbed sleep, restlessness, waking often and difficulty in finding a comfortable sleeping position
- Sweet yearnings—for nourishments weighed down with sugar and starch, giving a short serotonin high that fundamentally exhausts serotonin levels and cause stoutness.
- Associated conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Obesity, Migraines or grinding/clenching jaw and teeth.
Dopamine deficiency symptoms include:
- Men’s ‘depression’ are more likely because of dopamine deficiency, but will mostly manifest as lack of interest, ability to focus or complete apathy.
- Lethargy, fatigue, tremors, lack of motivation or interest in pleasurable activities.This will result in ADHD, alcoholism or impulse control mood disorders.
- ‘Molasses problems’, just cannot get going, ambling, foggy, yet cannot get to sleep or rest properly
- Cravings for caffeine and sugar
- Struggling to lose weight no matter effort, due to its effect on insulin regulation
- Inability to deal with stress, feelings of helplessness
- Ongoing effects from depression despite taking SSRI’s
- Associated conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Schizophrenia.
Serotonin and dopamine supplements
Natural supplements can raise serotonin and dopamine, thus reducing mood disturbances.
Use them as ordered, in low dosages and report any adverse effects.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), MAOIs, Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are drugs that increase serotonin levels in the brain.
Rhodiola Rosea and Garcinia Cambogia decrease cortisol and boost serotonin. Plus, amino acids like Tryptophan, 5-HTP, and SAM-e increase both sympathins).
For Dopamine level consider taking Mucuna Pruriens, (for Parkinsons and other movement disorders), Ginkgo Biloba, Magnesium, Ginseng, Berberine among others.
And some natural boosters and food sources for increasing both neurotransmitters:
- Exercise – in today’s digital world we do not take part in nearly enough physical activity. Sitting at a desk for eight or more hours a day is the new normal for many people and is considered worse than smoking for your health. Walk up and down stairs, park far away from shops and offices, jog.
- Set destination targets that can easily be achieved to trigger reward mechanisms.
- Curcumin –turmeric’s active ingredient and increases both serotonin and dopamine levels. Prepare luscious aromatic spicy meals with curcumin, healthy fats and carbohydrates to fuel energy.
- Fish Oil – contains omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which aides dopamine regulation and binding potential. Fatty Acids improves the release of serotonin and enhances reception in the receptors.
- Probiotics – live, natural microorganisms found in yogurts or other fermented products such as kombucha, kefir, pickles, kimchi, miso and sauerkraut. Also available in supplements, they prevent dysbiosis in your gut (bad bacteria), which produces lipopolysaccharides that lower serotonin levels, improve dopamine levels, alter mood in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.