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What Causes Dopamine Depletion?

author image Helen Nnama
Helen Nnama has six years of writing experience. She is a health contributor to TBR Journal, editor of fertility confidential manuals, published poet, and a greeting card writer. She has a B.S. in microbiology, an M.S. in epidemiology, and is an M.D. candidate. A former state HIV/AIDS epidemiologist and NIA fellow at Johns Hopkins, she has research experience with published work.
What Causes Dopamine Depletion?
A bowl of fresh strawberries sit on a gingham towl on a wooden table. Photo Credit: AnnaBreit/iStock/Getty Images

According to The Medical News, dopamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter that is found in the different areas of brain and is essential for several functions of the central nervous system. Dopamine plays a major role in the feelings of addiction and excitement, memory and motor control. Some of the causes of dopamine depletion are stress, alcohol withdrawal, obesity, poor nutrition, certain food stuffs and drugs.

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Stress is a cause for dopamine depletion. A study published in the journal "Neuro Endocrinology" investigated the effects of acute stress on dopamine nerve activity in female rats. Researchers found that acute restraint stress can decrease the dopamine synthesis and turnover in the brain. Stress is also the reason behind depletion of adrenals.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Dopamine depletion can occur with alcohol withdrawal. According to The Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, repeated use of alcohol can impair dopamine levels in the brain. When a person is dependent on alcohol, brain areas that produce dopamine become depleted. Patients in this condition can no longer enjoy the pleasures of everyday life and will develop alcohol withdrawal syndrome.


Obesity can result in dopamine depletion. In a study published by the Brookhaven National Laboratory, researchers found that obese persons have depleted levels of dopamine due to the presence of fewer receptors for dopamine. Patients were thus advised to be physically active.

Poor Nutrition

Dopamine depletion occurs with poor nutrition. The Franklin Institute reports that poor nutrition can cause the levels of dopamine to decrease. According to The Franklin Institute, alcohol, caffeine and sugar may reduce dopamine levels in the brain. The Franklin Institute recommends consumption of plenty of fruits and vegetables, because they provide antioxidants, which help protect dopamine-using brain cells from free damage.

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