The brain is a complex yet very crucial part of the human body. There are chemicals that are produced by the brain and they work as messengers otherwise known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters enable you to have a normal day without mood swings and even control how you relate to everything in your surroundings. The functions of these neurotransmitters can be altered when the levels of these neurotransmitters is changed. Of all the brain chemicals, dopamine is a common one. It is known by many people even out of the medical circles because of ‘its good feelings’ some people associate it with.
Dopamine in itself has many functions. It’s involved in many different important pathways. However, most people can only identify dopamine with such aspects as motivation, addiction, attention, or lust, their knowledge of dopamine is limited to the mesolimbic pathway. It is a pathway which starts with cells in the ventral tegmental area, buried deep in the middle of the brain, which send their projections out to places like the nucleus accumbens and the cortex.
When a person engages in sex, use of drugs or partying the brain will respond by increasing the levels of dopamine released in the nucleus accumbens .However during addiction the dopamine signaling in this area is changed. For any drug to have any pleasurable feeling to the user then the level of dopamine must be increased and this is what causes euphoric feelings that drug users will do anything to achieve.
It has been a proven fact that stress causes depletion of dopamine. Acute stress affects nerve activities and depletes dopamine. However, major causes of dopamine depletion are through the use of alcohol and other drugs of abuse. when used for few times or for shorter period of time the drugs such as meth, cocaine and even alcohol will induce an increase in the levels of dopamine that is produced by the brain however after repeated long-term use, the brain begins to shutdown dopamine receptors, so when a person is not on a drug, there is very little dopamine left in brain and he will get depressed. This is caused by a chemical imbalance in her brain. With absence of dopamine in areas like the temporal lobe the emotional stability of a person is affected but when it missing in places like the striatum it will cause impaired mental function; a person’s ability to feel or think become affected.
It is because of these feelings that make people addicted to their drugs of use. When you have conditioned your brain to produce high levels of dopamine only when you are using drugs then it will be hard for you to quit using the drugs as every time you try to quit all the withdrawal symptoms, some of which may be too severe sets in and that ties a person to drug use. Causing addiction and dependence thereafter.
Depletion of dopamine can also be caused by poor nutrition. According to the Franklin Institute reports, poor nutrition can cause the levels of dopamine to decrease. The reports explain that alcohol, caffeine and sugar may reduce dopamine levels in the brain. The Franklin Institute recommends consumption of plenty of fruits and vegetables, because they provide antioxidants, which help protect dopamine-using brain cells from free damage. In addition to good nutrition, watching your weight is also a good idea of keeping your dopamine levels in healthy levels as obesity also causes depletion of dopamine.
Imbalances in the neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine cause depression. As mentioned earlier, this imbalance may be caused by use of drugs of pleasure or by other diseases. Apart from these two causes, a person may also have a family history of depression and so predisposed to depression a case which makes it rather complicated for the brain to produce the neurotransmitters in required amounts. The brain has a great role to play in inhibiting depression; it has to produce the millions of chemicals it produces in the right amounts everyday failure to which you will be depressed. It’s that complicated.
In the long-term, all drugs and alcohol are brain depressants. In moderate amounts, alcohol does not lead to depression, but abusing drugs or alcohol will definitely lead to depression. This is because they deplete your brain of serotonin and dopamine. Researchers warn that it may take quite a long time for depleted dopamine to be restored and so it is important to avoid abusing drugs.
Alcohol abuse almost doubles the risk of depression. In one study that looked at 2,945 alcoholics. Fifteen percent were depressed before they began abusing alcohol, and that number jumped to 26 percent after they started abusing alcohol. Once they stopped drinking for an extended period, 15 percent remained depressed. This study showed that alcohol almost doubles the risk of depression.
Marijuana has also been linked to depression. It is reported that marijuana users are four times more likely to develop depression. In one study which monitored a large group of people for 16 years, it was discovered that people who smoked marijuana were four times more likely to develop depression. Another study followed later with 1601 students and confirmed the findings.
Finally, Drug abuse, addiction and independence are problems that people grapple with every day. These problems need to be treated effectively through integrative medicine. Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) is an expert at this. Call her on (843) 213-1480 for help.