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What Are the Risks of Low Dopamine Levels?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Low dopamine levels can contribute to a number of health issues, including depression, weight gain, and loss of motor control. A biological deficiency in this chemical has been linked to disease processes such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Parkinson's disease. Some studies have suggested that a person with lower than normal dopamine levels may be at an increased risk of developing additions to drugs or alcohol.

Depression is one of the most common problems associated with low dopamine levels. Fatigue, a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and an inability to focus are common symptoms of depression. Drug and alcohol addiction sometimes develops as a coping mechanism for depression as the affected person searches for ways to feel better, even if only for a short period of time. The weight gain associated with low dopamine levels may be related to emotional eating in many cases.

Mobility issues caused by a loss of motor control may develop as a result of low dopamine levels. Specific symptoms may include difficulty walking, maintaining balance, and stiff arms and legs. Problems with fine motor skills may make it difficult for a person with this condition to hold a fork, button a shirt, or write a letter.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is often linked to low dopamine levels. In addition to severe fatigue, symptoms of this disorder may include muscle and joint pain, sore throat, and difficulty focusing or concentrating. A person with this condition can often sleep for hours but awaken feeling like she hasn't slept at all.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly referred to as ADHD, may be caused or worsened by decreased levels of dopamine in some cases. Lowered levels of dopamine can cause trouble with concentration and may contribute to the development of ADHD. In other situations, the lack of this chemical may worsen the symptoms of attention disorders. Children and adolescents are more prone to developing ADHD, although it is sometimes seen in adults as well.

Parkinson's disease is characterized by tremors and muscle rigidity and is thought to be connected to low dopamine levels. Additional symptoms of this disease may include movement disorders, difficulty swallowing, and cognitive issues. When a dopamine deficiency is suspected, a doctor should be consulted for an accurate diagnosis and an individualized treatment plan based on the specific needs of the patient.

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Discussion Comments

By anon335595 — On May 21, 2013

It's high levels of dopamine that cause psychosis.

By literally45 — On May 04, 2013

Let's not forget that low dopamine levels can only be confirmed with diagnostic testing. These days, I keep hearing people say that they must have low dopamine when they feel depressed or nervous.

It's true that low dopamine levels carries risks and can contribute to bad mood, difficulty concentrating, anxiety and lack of motivation. But this doesn't mean that low dopamine is the only cause. Some people even take supplements claiming to balance dopamine levels without getting their dopamine levels checked out first!

There are many chemicals released by our brain and they all interact in unique ways. We can't possible link a condition with only one of these chemicals like dopamine.

By ysmina — On May 04, 2013

@ZipLine-- I don't think so. I've never heard of anything like that before. In fact, there is a theory that high dopamine may have something to do with schizophrenia but even that is not proven. Schizophrenia seems to do with genetics more than anything.

It is true that low dopamine levels can lead to anxiety, depression, withdrawal and other issues. But I don't think it can lead to psychosis.

By ZipLine — On May 03, 2013

Does low dopamine increase the risk of schizophrenia?

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