What Does Dopamine Do? 26 Surprising Dopamine Effects (18 are good, 8 are bad)

Without dopamine, we wouldn’t be able to feel driven and motivated. Dopamine increases attention, improves cognitive function, and stimulates our creativity. It makes us more social and extroverted and helps us form romantic and parental bonds. However, dopamine, when too high, can also have its drawbacks. Many people seek out artificial sources of dopamine, which can lead to addiction. Dopamine can increase weight gain and aggression. Read this post to learn more about the pros and cons of dopamine and dopamine genetics.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells (R).

Many areas of the brain produce dopamine. It is produced in the ventral tegmental area (VTA in the image above) of the midbrain, the substantia nigra pars compacta, and the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (R).

The most important dopamine pathway in the brain controls reward-motivated behavior (R).

Most types of rewards, such as new experiences or accomplishment, can increase dopamine levels in the brain. In addition, most addictive drugs and behavioral addictions can increase dopamine (R).

In addition, dopamine has many other important roles in humans, including movement, memory, attention, learning, sleep, and mood (R).

Dysfunctions of the dopamine system contribute to Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, restless legs syndrome, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (R).

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The following are symptoms that can indicate low dopamine:

  • Low Motivation
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Increased Appetite
  • Low Libido
  • Depression
  • Higher prolactin
  • Attention problems (such as ADHD)
  • Anhedonia (lack of pleasure)
  • Memory Problems
  • Chronic Inflammation
  • Brittle bones
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Brain Fog
  • Introverted personality
  • Lowered ability to form romantic attachments

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medication recalled from Pharmacies We are working with UK pharmacies to recall blood pressure and heart medication as a precaution

Pharmacies in the UK are being advised to recall all batches of valsartan containing medicines made by Dexcel Pharma Ltd and Accord Healthcare (previously known as Actavis Group) as a precaution, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) has warned today. This follows an urgent investigation in to medicines containing valsartan used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions.

A recall is underway across Europe following recent and emerging information that an impurity has been identified as part of the manufacturing process in a valsartan active substance manufactured at one facility based in China. This facility has supplied the manufacturers with the valsartan active substance. The impurity (N-nitrosodimethylamine), which may have carcinogenic potential, is a result of a change in the manufacturing process. This active substance is used in a number of medicines marketed in Europe.

The European Medicines Agency and other EU regulators are working together to investigate the extent of the issue and any possible impact for patients.

If you are taking any of the affected valsartan products, it is vital that you do not stop taking your medication but you should get in touch with a doctor or healthcare professional as soon as possible. Alternative valsartan containing products, that are unaffected by this issue, are available in the UK.

Patient safety is our top priority and we will provide further updates as the investigation progresses.

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Medication, my mind and me

Jamie Hancock continues his column with a discussion about his experiences of taking antidepressants at Cambridge

I was scared to try medication. I think that a lot of people are. For some, to take medication seems to be an admission of weakness – an acceptance that their ways of coping are not working. For others, they associate it with a fear that by taking something which affects your brain, you might lose who you are. Many people are afraid of the impact that side effects might have on their lives. I experienced all of these worries and more.

Any doctor will tell you that, in general, antidepressants and similar therapeutic medications are not intended for permanent use. They are part of a toolset, used alongside various therapies. The aim is for you to become well enough that you no longer need them.

I’ve collected the stories of several friends to illustrate the diversity of experiences that come under ‘taking medication’ beyond my own. Every case is different. Several of them have had to try multiple medications before they discovered one which worked best for them. Several, like me, have experienced a range of adverse side effects. Some are taking just one type of medication, be that an antidepressant SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), a beta-blocker or mood stabiliser (for bipolar disorder). Some are taking several, to treat a variety of issues.

Crackdown on prescription opioids followed by increase in ‘dark web’ purchases, study finds

Illicit online opioid purchases surged after the government cracked down on prescription painkillers, a new study has found.

With the United States grappling with a metastasising opioid addiction crisis, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 2014 tightened restrictions around drugs containing hydrocodone. The change made it more difficult to obtain and refill prescriptions for the widely user painkiller.

Many of the people who have become addicted to opioids in recent years have first developed a dependency on the drugs after being legally prescribed painkillers. Law enforcement officials were seeking to dam that outlet to addiction.

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Scots drug deaths hit new record high

Drug deaths in Scotland hit a new record high in 2017, having more than doubled in a decade.

New figures from the National Records of Scotland showed that 934 drug-related deaths were recorded in 2017.

This is the largest number since the figures started being collated in 1996, and more than double the 2007 total.

The Scottish government is drawing up a new drugs strategy, saying that “each of these untimely deaths is a tragedy”.

The newly released figures show a steady rise in deaths since 2013, with the rate of deaths now “very roughly two and a half times that of the UK as a whole” and “higher than those reported for all the EU countries”.

‘Drugs landscape’

The 2017 figure is up by 8% on that for the previous year, and more than double the 2007 total of 455.

Males accounted for 70% of the deaths, while 39% were of people aged 35 to 44 – compared to 29% being in the 45 to 54 age group and 20% in the 25 to 34 cohort.

Broken down by area, 30% of the deaths occurred in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, while 15% were in Lothian, 11% in Lanarkshire and 10% in Tayside.

Opiods such as heroin, morphine and methadone were linked to 87% of the deaths, while benzodiazepines like diazepam were linked to 59% – reflecting that multiple substances were implicated in many cases.

Extrapyramidal symptoms

This condition is a common side effect of many anti-depressants.

This taken from Wikipedia:

Extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS), also known as extrapyramidal side effects (EPSE), are drug-induced movement disorders that include acute and tardive symptoms. These symptoms include dystonia (continuous spasms and muscle contractions), akathisia (motor restlessness), parkinsonism (characteristic symptoms such as rigidity), bradykinesia (slowness of movement), tremor, and tardive dyskinesia (irregular, jerky movements)…….

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Depression: A revolution in treatment?

It’s not very often we get to talk about a revolution in understanding and treating depression and yet now doctors are talking about “one of the strongest discoveries in psychiatry for the last 20 years”.

It is based around the idea that some people are being betrayed by their fiercest protector. That their immune system is altering their brain.

The illness exacts a heavy toll on 350 million people around the world, among them Hayley Mason, from Cambridgeshire:

“My depression gets so bad that I can’t leave the bed, I can’t leave the bedroom, I can’t go downstairs and be with my partner and his kids.

The 30-year-old added: “I can’t have the TV on, I can’t have noise and light, I have suicidal thoughts, I have self-harmed, I can’t leave the house, I can’t drive.

“And just generally I am completely confined to my own home and everything else just feels too much.”

Anti-depressant drugs and psychological treatments, like cognitive behavioural therapy, help the majority of people.

But many don’t respond to existing therapies and so some scientists are now exploring a new frontier – whether the immune system could be causing depression.

“I think we have to be quite radical,” says Prof Ed Bullmore, the head of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge.

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Wales’ ‘devastating’ suicide figures revealed

Rates in Wales are the second highest among the regions of the UK, according to official data.

Suicide rates in Wales are the second highest among the regions of the UK, official figures have revealed.

Rates among men are significantly higher than among women in Wales, according to the data from the Office of National Statistics.

The figures show that Wales is only just behind Scotland in terms of suicide rates, with a rate of 11.8 per 100,000 people, compared to Scotland’s rate of 15.

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Key trends from the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2017

  • In 2015 there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
  • 6,188 suicides were registered in the UK and 451 in the Republic of Ireland.
  • The highest suicide rate in the UK was for men aged 40–44.
  • The highest suicide rate in the Republic of Ireland was for men aged 25–34 (with an almost identical rate for men aged 45–54).
  • In England and the UK, female suicide rates are at their highest in a decade. Rates have increased in the UK (by 3.8%), England (by 2%), Wales (61.8%) and Northern Ireland (18.5%) since 2014 – however increases in Wales and Northern Ireland may be explained by inconsistencies in the processes for recording suicides in these countries.
  • Female suicide rates have decreased in Scotland (by 1.4%) and the Republic of Ireland (by 13.1%) since 2014.
  • Male rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK.

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