Dopamine crash? Here's what to do.

Dopamine is the most important neurotransmitter in the brain and regulates our moods and acts as the “reward centre” of the brain. Low levels of dopamine will cause low levels of attention and focus, though high levels of this incredible chemical will cause a high attention and focus -usually in activities we enjoy. In other words it is what makes us feel elated, happy or depressed and frustrated.

However, because it can affect our emotions and mood, dopamine can also lead to addiction and depression. Dopamine is released for specific things that the person may find to be stress relieving, such as alcohol and narcotics -this may help the person feel better than they were prior to the participation of the particular activity- when performing activities such as taking drugs the person’s brain will have released high amounts of dopamine, thus making the person feel better than before taking the substance. Though when the brain realises the effect of the dopamine has worn off after having this “good time” (if uncontrolled) will search for more of the cause of the high dopamine release, and this is where addiction happens: a mental and physical need for a particular activity or substance.

On the other hand, dopamine can help us with motivation to go to work and go through hardships that many of us face. It’s like that little voice in your head that tells you -“you can do it”- on long, hard days that never seem to end: it is the resilience that helps us continue in times that seem hopeless.

Studies show that simple things such as taking a frigid bath can release more dopamine than taking cocaine. It’s true! According to the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic in 1999 a cold plunge can increase dopamine levels by 250% and this effect lasts for about two and a half hours whereas taking the most known illegal drug reaches a similar amount (200-250%) but lasts only 10 minutes.