All you need to know about dopamine!
February 11, 2023

All you need to know about dopamine!

Dopamine is an interesting molecule.. if you want to know why, continue reading!

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter - a chemical messenger, sending signals throughout our nervous system and brain. It plays an important role in memory, movement, feelings of pleasure, reward and motivation, behaviour and cognition.

Dopamine is produced by our adrenal glands, which sit just above our kidneys. The adrenal glands produce a number of other neurotransmitters.

First we will discuss the role of dopamine in reward-motivation behaviour. Dopamine is the chemical that is released when we do something pleasurable, like eating, having fun, sex, earning money; you name it. A surge of dopamine is released which makes us feel good, and further crave that action.  This surge of dopamine also leads to an increase in alertness and motivation. This is also the pathway that can lead to addiction of certain drugs, gambling, binge eating, as we crave more once the dopamine is released. 

As I have also mentioned it is an important chemical for our memory, movement and cognition. There are certain diseases that can arise from a lack or malfunction of dopamine pathways, such as Parkinson’s disease. Some of the symptoms that relate to a lack of dopamine are tremor, muscle slowness and stiffness, decline in thinking and problem solving, difficulty with coordination and balance. 

It therefore makes sense that medications that increase the level of dopamine in the brain are used to treat Parkinson’s disease, such as levodopa. Unfortunately these medications can have side effects including changes in behaviour, abnormal movements and addiction.

Another area where dopamine is used medically is in ADHD. ADHD medications affect the dopamine pathways to increase concentration and focus.

Some more interesting facts!

  • Dopamine levels decrease by up to 50% with increasing age
  • Exercise, good quality sleep and reducing stress can help increase dopamine levels.


Whilst writing this blog I came across a movie on Netflix called ‘Awakenings’ which I watched, without knowing what it is about. It is actually very relevant to the effects of dopamine in the body! What a coincidence! If you haven’t already seen it then I definitely recommend.