Low Dopamine Levels Can Cause Anxiety and Depression

Can Dopamine Levels Cause Anxiety and Depression?

Dopamine is one of the five main chemicals or neurotransmitters inside our brain. As dopamine continues to function along with other brain receptors, our thoughts, feelings and actions are being affected. Low dopamine levels may cause debilitating symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Low Dopamine LevelsThe Main Functions of Dopamine

When your levels of dopamine are being kept within correct healthy levels, this is what helps you feel good.

Dopamine is actually known as the ‘feel good chemical‘.

However, dopamine not only produces feelings of happiness, it is also the same neurotransmitter that produces feelings of irritability. This is because dopamine is responsible for regulating every person’s emotions. It is the same chemical that helps people decide among different alternatives in order to reach the most appropriate decision.

Knowing this fact will somehow give us an idea how feelings become capable of giving us deep and varied insights.

When a person is exposed to different forms of stressful situations the level of neurotransmitters which include dopamine, will be reduced.

Besides stress, excessive intake of sugar, alcohol and other caffeinated beverages can also disrupt dopamine activity in the brain.

How Low Dopamine Levels Causes Anxiety and Depression

The Dana Foundation reveals that when levels of dopamine are low in the brain’s amygdala we are bound to experience anxiety or depression. The amygdala is the part of the brain which serves as our fear and memory factory. The fact that our fear and memory are being controlled directly by the cells found inside the same amygdala, it becomes easier for us to understand why low levels of dopamine would cause us to suffer from anxiety and depression symptoms.

Dopamine and Nutrition

Dopamine level seems to be related to nutrition. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol can all decrease your brain’s dopamine activity, says The Franklin Institute. In contrast, foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, are beneficial to dopamine because their nutrients protect the health of neurons in your brain that use dopamine. To increase your dopamine and potentially reduce anxiety symptoms, try reducing your intake of alcohol, sugar and caffeine, and eating more fruits and vegetables. Article Source

Our actual foods don’t contain dopamine. The truth is that dopamine does not have the capability to transfer directly from the blood to the brain, but what we should get from the foods that we eat are the essential amino acids. These amino acids will serve as precursors that will help boost the production of dopamine. These amino acids are better known as tyrosine.

Foods that are rich sources of tyrosine include:

  • Soy products – such as tofu, soy milk and cheeses
  • Proteins – Egg whites, salmon and turkey
  • Fruit and nuts – Avocados and almonds
  • Green leafy vegetables – spirulina or mustard greens

So if you think your moods are affected by low dopamine levels, you could be right. There are also natural supplements that help boost dopamine and serotonin levels, so you don’t have to resort to medications! Our body is extremely complex, so if it’s out of balance anything can happen!

Talk to me in the comments below or if you enjoyed this article, please share with your friends.

Affiliate Disclosure

My website contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase any products mentioned in my articles, I may receive a commission. If you do, thank you!

About Jennifer Johnson

I suffered with social anxiety and stress for years. I discovered what my triggers were and learned to control them. Hopefully some of the natural anxiety relief techniques I have tried, will also be your solution.


  1. Stacey drymon says

    I suffer from anxiety and now depression. I take xanax and have been prescibed lexapro but im too scared to try it. im glad I saw this posting.

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      Hi Stacey, Your doctor wants to help you, there is no doubt about that, but it’s just nice to know what is going on with us too.

    • jaime walker says

      Try bupropion 75. Xanax reduces anxiety but increases depression. Depression may be caused by serotonin imbalance, in that case you need Lexapro instead of Bupropion that stabilizes dopamine. The other thing is to try both together. I suffered depression and doctors gave me meds for serotonin that helped me, but not a cure. I discovered at 61y that my depression is caused by low dopamine more than serotonin but meds for dopamine came to market around 1990 and my depression started in 1973 and no psychiatrist told me about it.

  2. Hi there,

    I am having a panic attack as we speak and suffer from debilitating anxiety (panic attack disorder) and depression.
    what techniques can i try to ease the tension and stress thats built up because im taking zoloft 25mg and still feel edgy on and off. is it safe for me to up my dosage to 50mg instead of cutting my tablet in half?

    thanks in advance

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      Hi Felicity,

      I didn’t see your email straight away! I hope you are feeling better now. I wish I had been here for you.

      As for your dosage, I can’t legally give you any medical advice. Only your doctor can do that, although I can provide you with many natural techniques to ease your anxiety and stress.

      My website is full of them!

      What have you tried? It would help me if I knew more…so let me know!

  3. Hi again,

    I am feeling abit better today although I have been getting quite edgy and unsettled lately and I can’t come up with a reason why unless it’s just pent up stress (I have 3 young daughters under 8 and am 24)

    I have only been diagnosed within the last 5 months and haven’t really tried any “techniques” as such, I have been to a session with a psychiatrist and have another 9 sessions to do and he said to acknowledge and accept a panic attack as it strikes and to tell myself there is no danger lurking and to then stop what I’m doing and find something else to go on with such as a walk in the fresh air etc.

    It’s great to have someone to be able to ask advice and talk to about anxiety as I am only learning about it in full still!!!

  4. THANK YOU for helping me realize that my anti-depressant may be contributing to my irritability!!!!

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      Hi Dawn, nice to see you again!

      It certainly could be causing you to be irritable. Ask your doctor or tell them you have noticed this annoying side effect and see what they say. They will certainly listen to you as they may need to assess your dosage or change the particular anti-depressant they have prescribed for you.

      Everybody reacts differently to everything. You have to find ‘your sweet spot’.

      Have a lovely day!


  5. Govind Prajapati says

    I think you are right. I am taking methylphenidate feeling well. Give me more advice.

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      Hi Govind, I can’t give advice… but perhaps you can read more of my articles and hopefully some will help you!

  6. Tekin Bora says

    Hi, I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease 2008, my TSH level was 0.01 almost 8-9 years doctor gave me antithyroid medication PTU 300 mg everyday same dose. I believe I was overmedicated, my symptoms were low mood,low libido, anxiety. Is it possible thyroid disease lowers dopamine levels?? Poorly treated.

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      Hi Tekin,

      I don’t know, so I started searching to see if I could find anything that might be helpful, and I was curious too. I don’t know anything about the thyroid and how it affects dopamine levels, however I did find this article:


      It said, “Low thyroid hormone can impact neurotransmitters. For example, low thyroid hormone can cause low dopamine levels, leading to loss of motivation and will-power.”

      • Tekin Bora says

        Thank you so much because since diagnosed with Graves’ disease my mood changes so quickly and easily get bored. Symptoms was :low libido, anxiety and low mood but my doctors never explain to me any thyroid disease symptoms. I was poorly treated. It was lack of communication with doctors almost 9 years same dose antithyroid medication PTU 300 mg unbelievable…….

      • Tekin Bora says

        Thank you so much. I believe thyroid disease doesn’t matter. Overactive thyroid disease or underactive thyroid disease definitely lowers neurotransmitters!!!

        • Jennifer Johnson says

          Thank you for sharing Tekin. It’s always nice to feel empowered where our health is concerned!

  7. Tekin Bora says

    Thanks Jennifer I found so many articles about thyroid connection with depression and anxiety!

  8. Tekin Bora says

    Graves’ disease symptoms:1-anxiety and irritability high levels of thyroid hormone T3 can make hyper-thyroid sufferers sensitive to adrenaline resulting in Anxiety…..(mayoclinic.org)

  9. Tekin Bora says

    Thanks Jennifer I was suffering Graves’ disease almost 9 years and I didn’t know anything about this disease biologically and mentally was killing me and doctors didn’t help me ! I was doing research after I was seriously ill ! Thank you kindly answer my message! Have a nice day

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      You have a nice day to Tekin… and thank you for sharing your findings and your own personal experience. I am always hopeful that it will help others too!

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