Have You Stopped Enjoying Life? Could Be Low Dopamine

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Some people feel so bad they want to die, but don’t follow through because they actually lack motivation. There is no pleasure. That must sound doesn’t it, but it holds true for many.
Why bother with anything, nothing brings you pleasure… this kind of depression is related to dopamine imbalances.

Does it sound like you?

You’ve been trained to equate depression with serotonin deficiency, not dopamine, but in fact people with serotonin-related depression don’t usually wish to die. They feel blue, they have no motivation, sometimes having poor self-esteem, but they don’t want to really die. They are commonly put on drugs such as Prozac, a very good one if you’re aiming to raise serotonin temporarily.

Prozac might backfire, I’ll tell you why in a minute. It has to do with fluoride and iodine. My point right now is depression is NOT a Prozac deficiency (or Celexa, or Cymbalta, or Lexapro, or any of them).  They may be helpful, and you may rely on them but the point here is depression results from something other than a medication deficiency. There’s an important distinction I want to make, one that could potentially save your life, or someone you love.

People with low dopamine are the ones to watch closely.

Dopamine deficiency will cause you to wake up sluggish in the morning, usually with brain fog, but you might feel happier and suddenly more enthusiastic with a “hit” of some sort, perhaps a cup of coffee.  Low dopamine (as opposed to low serotonin) causes a different kind of depression, one that is hallmarked by a lack of pleasure.

Serotonin deficiency makes life less optimistic, and it’s like the glass is always half empty. I’m talking about this more in an online summit and you can watch my interview for free. Sign up today because it starts on June 14th, the link for the Depression summit is below.

Mild states of depression related to dopamine deficiency force you to need a “hit” of something sugary, or caffeinated. It may manifest itself differently for each individual. Some women want to go shopping, men may want to gamble or have sex more frequently (until dopamine runs out then they lose interest altogether).

Dopamine deficiencies affect more than your mood. Most of us don’t think about the ability of getting up out of a chair, walking, and holding a glass of water or writing. We take it for granted, but difficulties here (like tremor or weakness) may point to damage in the substantia nigra, a part of your brain where dopamine is manufactured.

Tremors and balance problems, gait disturbances, trouble with planning, slower thinking processes are all issues that individuals with Parkinson’s disease struggle with.  Parkinson’s disease is due to abnormally low dopamine levels, or poor utilization of dopamine compounded with high levels of inflammation chemicals in the brain called “cytokines.”

You might think “inflammation” in the brain doesn’t apply to you but mild brain ‘swelling’ is pretty common, especially in people with chronic infections. Did you think those cytokines stay in your bloodstream without ever going into your head? Of course not, the inflammatory chemicals can get into your brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier causing dopamine imbalances galore!

Do you want to know about the connection between thyroid and depression? How about the relationship between all your neurotransmitters and mood (and how to naturally raise happy brain chemicals)? You may want to take a few minutes to read my other article: Depression, Anxiety, Thyroid, Migraines, Celiac and More… Your Questions Answered.

And You Thought Fluoride Was ONLY In Toothpaste

Some antidepressants have a backbone made of fluoride. It’s called a “fluorinated” drug because it has fluoride in it as a component. Shocking but true, fluorine can chemically displace iodine off a cell’s receptor. Your thyroid gland is a sponge for iodine. It’s like a bully and it punches the iodine out, and takes it’s place. When you become iodine deficient, you can’t make thyroid hormone. BAM!

Low thyroid hormone has to be one of the most common reasons for depression, and the prescription drugs do not increase thyroid hormone (remember, most of them lift serotonin), and that’s yet another reason that your mood fizzles out after a while when you stay on SSRI antidepressants too long! These drugs don’t correct imbalances of thyroid hormone. There are many drugs that are fluorinated which I’ve outlined for you below.

fluorine image

Redox Homeostasis

Researchers are currently studying a process called “Redox Homeostasis” and how to keep it in balance within the brain, critical for preventing neurodegeneration which leads to depression, Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders. Redox homeostasis refers to a constant recycling process in your cells that involves free radical production with subsequent reduction and clearance of free radicals.

To neutralize the free radicals (termed ROS for Reactive Oxygen Species), you need antioxidants. If you don’t have enough antioxidants your system gets overwhelmed with the oxidants! Makes sense right? This is why pushing more and more serotonin into your body doesn’t cure depression.

In 2012, there was a scientific paper in Nutritional Neuroscience  exploring the brain benefits conferred by simple, affordable nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E and CoQ10 for Parkinson’s- the focus was more specifically on how these antioxidants reduced “neuronal cell death.”

The article points out what we know, that basically “oxidative stress plays a role in the etiology and progression of PD [Parkinson’s Disease].” But again, natural endogenous levels of antioxidants that you have in your body helps offset the damage done in the CNS [Central Nervous System].

I’m not saying to stop your antidepressants, Lord knows that many of you truly depend on them. But at the same time, I do think you (actually all of us here!) could spend more time on the critical ways to protect the brain (rather than upping all the hormones, and tilting the neurotransmitters out of balance). That’s kind of what you do when you take serotonin-lifting drugs you know.

You lift serotonin so high  that this metabolically ‘pushes down’ all your other brain hormones — the ones that you need for a good sex life, and a happy mood… the players I’m referring to are GABA, dopamine and acetylcholine, and others. Withdrawal symptoms can be horrible, these drugs are supposed to be weaned slowly under physician supervision if discontinue them.

4 Ways to Help

1) Quell the free radicals (reduce ROS ‘Reactive Oxygen Species’ and other cytokines) with antioxidants

2) Consider and discuss the use of dopamine-lifting supplements or drugs but be careful. This has to be done very slowly or you could increase suicide risk. We see this with SSRI drugs, the risk of suicide goes up in some people, possibly because they are so dopamine deficient to begin with.

3) Check thyroid hormone levels properly, follow the instructions for testing as well as my recommended lab values listed in my book, Thyroid Healthy. Make sure okay, because low thyroxin or poor peripheral T4 to T3 conversion has the same clinical presentation as low dopamine depression.

4) Opt for a healthier diet, not the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). It is kind of “SAD” if you think about it. This dietary lifestyle leads to higher ROS and disrupts Redox Homeostasis. Worse than that, your microglial cells (immune cells in the brain) fight an uphill battle of widespread cellular inflammation that can’t be seen on CTs or MRIs.

The floodgates of cytokines open up and dump chemicals out that dampen mood, make you feel anxious, or affect your coping mechanisms. When your NF Kappa B pathway gets activated and STAYS activated, it can cause mild brain inflammation.

Thyroid Healthy Book

At first it may be subtle, but over time, the cerebral edema erodes your health. Conventional medicine’s answer to this is a pretty pill, at about $200 per month. You can’t ever really get off them, at least not easily because they re-program your neurotransmitter ‘wires’ in your brain, making you depending on higher and higher doses. Some of you may feel terrible off the drugs, yet still numb to the world when ON the drugs. Can’t win for losin’ as they say.

Since I write about depression quite a bit, some of you have emailed me to ask if I have depression, or if I’ve ever had it and “How do I know so much about it?”
The answer is no, that is not something I’ve really suffered with.

Story: Mepron Can Make One Depressed

My joke around the house is that I have two speeds, “Happy” and “Weeee!” My husband is also a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. He’s real chill. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s never been depressed except for a few weeks when some doctor in deep Denver prescribed a drug called Mepron (atovaquone).

Big mistake – this is a drug used to treat Babesia (which he does not even have! A total misdiagnosis and moment of negligence)… but anyway, this drug can honestly drive people to such a “dark” place!! If you take it, BEWARE. It can cause profound abnormal mood changes in anyone. Honestly, I don’t think this drug should be allowed on the market (at least not with current dosage guidelines). That’s just my humble opinion.

Well, anyway, we discontinued that medicine in a flash, the minute I realized how he was morphing, and it was easy to tell because he’s an otherwise happy, funny guy. If you want more on the common infection called Babesia (or Lyme disease) please CLICK HERE

Genes and Depression

Depression does not run in my family. It does follow genetic lines though. If you have a BH4 or COMT gene SNP you might be more prone to depression.

I can help you too. Just like you I have endured painful losses and my share of grief, but I have overcome those situations emotionally. I’m rather stable, very little rattles me. So I want to assure you that you can get out of the place you’re in. I assure you, it’s one thing to be situationally sad or grief-stricken, it’s another to live in that mode for more than a few weeks.

Some of you have resonated there for years. It is YOU I want to reach, and help … and show you that you can enjoy life once again and “find a happy place” like Peach, the starfish said in Finding Nemo.

He’s Got a Big Head

Have you ever said that about a guy? What if it were true and someone you loved had a swollen head, and at this point, I mean it literally of course. I’m referring to brain swelling, the very mild kind that is probably not picked up on scans and imaging. It causes extreme morning brain fog, and trouble with speech, word finding and recall. It can make you feel drunk (when you haven’t drank), and it is often associated with hypoxia. It’s technically termed “cerebral edema.”

Cerebral edema, I must tell you this is much harder to overcome if you live at higher altitudes too, so if you live a mile high (think Denver or Salt Lake city), your astrocytes swell and this increases intracranial pressure. The medical term for it is “High Altitude Sickness” and they use Acetazolamide to drain the brain (brand name is Diamox).

Among other major health problems, mild cerebral edema means your mood takes a dive. Without being able to put your finger on it, you might just feel better at lower altitudes or at sea level. Some of you get a clue because you know you feel better in your head when you swim underwater. Weird but true. Pycnogenol may be helpful for you.

Don’t squirt any lighter fluid your hot outdoor grill.

By that I mean, your brain is on fire, you may already have a diagnosis of depression or Parkinson’s, or an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s, Lupus or MS… or you have Lyme disease or Babesia. Maybe you are post-TIA or stroke… and then you do things (or eat foods) that ignite your mildly inflamed brain. Foods such as processed or refined junk foods, soda pop, candy bars or sugary treats will act like lighter fluid and overwhelms Redox Homeostasis.

I’m not getting to deep into this but I want you to know that eating pro-inflammatory foods (refined, processed, or foods you are sensitive to) will also cause you to create more quinolinate, peroxynitrite and glutamate. Those are all nervous system excitotoxins that hurt your brain and damage mood.

Understanding this process is fundamental to improving mood and stopping neurological degeneration. Make targeted choices and discuss the use of nutritional supplements that we know put the fire out. It’s a step. You will still need to work towards balancing your hormones.

Nutrients Good for the Brain

The brain supplements such as natural vitamin E (especially tocotrienols), resveratrol, Japanese knotweed, NAC or glutathione, curcumin, PQQ, ubiquinol or CoQ10 protect microglial cells and in turn, these help prevent the loss of dopamine and cell membranes. Ask your doctor if they’re right for you.

A study published in the May 2015 Neurobiology of Disease found that vitamin E, minocycline (a prescription drug) and resveratrol could each help balance the Redox Homeostasis process and quell oxidation due to dopamine imbalances and high levels of free radicals. For pennies a day, these items could boost mood and help reduce suicidal ideation.

We can’t stop the clock, and we can’t take a happy pill, but we can sure make better choices that over time improve mood. Increase your intake of colorful antioxidant-rich berries and foods. Other considerations to discuss with your doctor include ways to manage blood sugar, iron status, methylation SNPs, chelating or at least reducing chemical toxins.