Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Dopamine Levels: How They Connect
Have you ever come home from a stressful day and just wanted a big bowl of ice cream? Chances are your dopamine levels were low and your body was naturally craving something that would increase it.
When you are faced with stress it drains your dopamine levels. Dopamine is a chemical in your body that helps you feel good about life, motivate yourself, remember things, and focus. When you are low on dopamine you often feel depressed, and anxious. It is hard to motivator yourself and concentrate if you are low on dopamine. Often times people have a hard time getting out of bed, and don’t want to go to work or school.
There are several ways to get dopamine. Some of them are healthy and some of them are not. Cutting, and drugs and alcohol are unhealthy ways to get dopamine. Those methods can become very addictive if they are your primary way of getting dopamine. Exercise, doing things that line up with your values, sex, and sweet and salty foods are healthier ways to get dopamine. Sex, and sweet and salty foods should be used carefully because the negative side effects could deplete your dopamine gains. The biggest, longest lasting source of dopamine is HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS. Connecting with another person is the best way to deal with stress. Go out to coffee with a friend, spend time on facebook, call your sister, and/or go on a date! Once a week isn’t enough. You need a daily dose of this to feel well connected and battle stress. It is hard work battling stress.