Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Dopamine level?

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Question
I'm under the impression that some natural remedies/herbs/amino acids can increase dopamine levels. I think that I might have low dopamine levels, I'm feeling depressed, have sudden mood changes, have a low sex drive, difficulty concentrating etc. I have also ADHD diagnosed.
 Is it possible that if I use these I could increase my dopamine levels too much and develop psychosis or schizophrenia etc.?

Answer
You raise a thoughtful question, but the best answer is not really, Stanley.

There simply is no way to quantify any neurotransmitter in a living human brain, so there's no such clinical entity as low dopamine.

There may be a hundred different neurotransmitters, but most exist transiently and in submicroscopic quantities. They may have a major effect but dopamine is the best known, seemingly the most pervasive, and at the moment the easiest to inhibit or augment through neuropharmaceuticals. Still, knowledge is hazy; for instance, dopamine may have different effects on different brain structures, and there are many different receptors for it.

Claims that foods affect levels of any of the catecholamines are purely, as far as I know, "pseudoscience" so they won't cause (or prevent) disorders like schizophrenia that could be related to dopamine levels.   

All your symptoms are often associated with attention problems, and the best success for most people is a combination of medication and psychotherapy -- and both, I'm afraid, can often be a matter of trial-and-error.

Hope that helps a bit, and the best of luck in dealing with this frustrating condition.

Alan

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach

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Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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