Dopamine is a well known neurotransmitter, a chemical that transmits impulses and signals between the brain's nerve cells. It is derived from the amino acid tyrosine. Dopamine plays a dominant and diverse role in the proper functioning of the body's central nervous system.
The level of dopamine in the system is known to have an impact on neuron (nerve cell) activity in the body. Dopamine has a direct impact on the body's pleasure pathways (as a result it has an effect on addiction and addictive behavior), on memory, learning abilities, attention span, thinking and response, motor skills and movement.
Dopamine also plays a significant role in addictive behavior. Dopamine is linked with the brain's motivation system. As a result, the intake of certain drugs and stimulants spikes the production of dopamine in the body. The excess levels of dopamine in the body create an intoxicating high. However as soon as the stimulants exit the body, the individual crashes. The high is now replaced by depression and a drop in energy levels. As a result the brain begins to crave for the drug once again to stimulate dopamine production in the search for another high. This creates and fuels addiction and addictive behavior.
Along with addiction, cases of dopamine abnormalities have also been are associated with incurable conditions like Parkinson's disease, attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia.
An immediate impact of dopamine deficiency is that the patients experiences extreme weakness and body tremors. Other symptoms of dopamine deficiency include depression, mood swings, confusion, lack of energy (constant fatigue, both physical and mental), slow thinking, poor libido, disturbed sleep patterns, inability to pay attention, rapid weight gain, etc.
A dopamine deficiency can be a result of a number issues ranging from chronic stress, use of antidepressants, poor nutrition, specific nutrient deficiencies (for example magnesium, iron or zinc deficiency), genetic disposition, hypothyroidism, and heavy metal exposure. Fortunately dopamine levels can be easily tested and adjusted. Dopamine levels can be tested by taking a simple dopamine blood test or a basic urine test. And dopamine levels can be easily adjusted by focusing on proper nutrition and medication.
Dopamine also plays an important part in the diagnostic process. A Dopamine Stress Test (along with a cardiac ultrasound) is often used to assess heart function. While the cardiac ultrasound captures images of heart function, the dopamine is used to stress the heart. As a result, the heart begins to pump more forcefully, allowing doctors to detect blockages in the arteries and heart muscles, both of which can lead to complex heart problems, on the cardiac ultrasound.