Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters used by the nervous system to regulate bodily functions like sleep and memory. While dopamine and serotonin are the feel-good chemicals responsible for our moods and emotions, they both function differently. Low levels of dopamine have been linked to mental health disorders like depression, and low levels of serotonin contribute to disturbances in sleep and mood.

Different Functions in Depression

It used to be thought that low levels of serotonin were the singular cause of depression, but scientists have since developed a more nuanced understanding of the effects of serotonin. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been used to treat depression for many years. By contrast, not having enough dopamine does not cause depression alone, but having low levels can cause a lack of motivation, trouble concentrating, and a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

Serotonin and Sleep

The pineal gland, which is responsible for enabling brain activity to adapt during the day from good sleep, has both dopamine and serotonin receptors. Serotonin can help you fall asleep and maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Your body needs serotonin to make melatonin which is an important hormone that regulates sleep. Not having enough serotonin can negatively impact the quality and pattern of your sleep.

Differences in Other Functions

Having a low amount of serotonin can lead to mental health disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Serotonin also regulates digestion, blood clotting, and bone health. Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter involved in learning and reward pathways. Drugs like alcohol and cocaine can hijack this system, causing you to seek drugs over other healthier goals and activities for your life.

How to Boost Serotonin and Dopamine

If you think your serotonin or dopamine levels are out of balance, a psychiatrist can diagnose your condition and prescribe medications to correct the imbalance. For natural ways to control serotonin and dopamine, consider getting outside in sunlight, exercising, and eating foods high in tryptophan, which gets converted to serotonin. Examples include bananas, beans, eggs, leafy vegetables, and more.

 Dopamine and serotonin are needed for your body to do all kinds of functions to live a healthier life. However, each neurotransmitter has a different set of specific functions in the brain. We need both of them to be mentally fit every day. At Alta Loma, we understand how serotonin and dopamine can positively affect the body, and we are here to make sure you have a healthy balance of both. Our transformative treatment center in Georgetown, Texas, can offer you individualized therapy, coping skills, education, medication management, and more. Call us at (866) 457-3843 for more information.