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Dopamine level: how to regain true pleasure

Уровень дофамина: как вернуть себе настоящее удовольствие

Dopamine (dopamine, DA) - a neurotransmitter, produced in the brain of humans and animals. Also, the hormone produced by the adrenal medulla and other tissues (eg, the kidneys), but this hormone almost does not penetrate the brain subcortex from the blood. According to the chemical structure, dopamine is referred to as catecholamines. Dopamine is the biochemical precursor of norepinephrine (and adrenaline).

Let's imagine two people of the same weight and height. Both have 40,000 dopamine receptors (conditional) in the brain, but their sensitivity is different. One person has a 10-fold decrease in receptor sensitivity and a normal one in another. Both men see one and the same pleasant sight, say a cute cat. This event causes the production, say, of one 10,000 molecules of dopamine, i.e. the level of dopamine in both is the same. But what is the perception of this event? In this case, the first person has 25% satisfaction, and the other person has 2.5% satisfaction.

The first person will focus on what kind of cat is cute. And the second will think: the cat is sweet. but he has toxoplasmosis and in general he dies on the street by starvation. And with each such event, the first person will consider that his day was a success, and the second? The second will, of course, be unhappy with the day. A reduced level of dopamine reduces our ability to notice "rewarding" -something positive and raises the sensitivity to anxious, to "menacing."

Throughout his life, the first person will almost never suffer from dissatisfaction with himself, but he will also have little incentive for personal development. He will be satisfied if he is just full, dressed in the weather, etc. He almost never wants to change something for the better in himself or in life. But this person is not profitable for the consumer society: it is very difficult to force him to buy something and change something.

The second person will certainly be dissatisfied with something. He can always strive to improve something for the better, but this will not bring him pleasure. And it is likely that such a person will look for strong stimulants to produce 40,000 molecules of dopamine, and he has a high risk of addiction.

The second important point is not with pleasant moments, but with problems. If the first person gets sucked and his dopamine production drops (say 20,000 molecules), he will feel 50% worse. And this will make him avoid an unpleasant situation in the future, i.e. learns from mistakes. But the second person's state of health will decrease by only 5%. Those. This reduction is clearly not enough to draw conclusions.

German neuroscientists have suggested that, perhaps, the lack of dopamine receptors reduces the ability of people to learn from their own mistakes, that is, to draw the right conclusions from negative experiences and not to repeat actions that led to bad consequences (Klein et al., 2007). In general, the results obtained suggest that the normal operation of dopamine systems of the brain is necessary in order that a person can effectively learn from his mistakes. Violation of dopamine neurons (for example, due to a lack of dopamine receptors, as in carriers of allele A1) can lead to neglect of negative experiences. A person simply does not react to the negative consequences of his actions and therefore can repeatedly step on the same rake. "

There are several mutations in the receptor genes for dopamine. In the case of addictions, it is possible to pass an analysis, in order to choose the right therapy tactics for such patients.

Mutation C2137T (Glu713Lys) in the gene of the dopamine receptor type 2, DRD2.

This mutation is associated with alcoholism, drug addiction, nicotine addiction, gambling. A1A1 genotype can lead to a relative reduction in the number of DRD2 receptors, thereby further weakening the response to already reduced amounts of dopamine levels. Reduction of D2 receptors of dopamine, reduces sensitivity to the effects of adverse effects, which can explain the increased risk of addictive behavior in carriers of the allelic variant A1.

Studies were carried out related to the study of the connection of the genotype by the marker C2137T and learning on the basis of feedback stimuli processing-the ability of people to learn to avoid actions with negative consequences was assessed. In the group of carriers of the minor (rarer) allele A1, it passed less efficiently than in the group of carriers of the main allele.

There is also the gene DRD4, associated with the desire for new impressions. The long allele of this gene with an increased frequency occurs in families of patients with a hereditary form of alcoholism, and it is associated with a "fashionable" childhood diagnosis - a syndrome of hyperactivity with attention impairment. Children with such a diagnosis in schools can not sit at their desks. It is curious that this disease is effectively treated without any tablets on the simulators with feedback. The children are shown a cartoon on the computer screen, and the cartoon looks sharp when they are attentive. Mindfulness is fixed with the help of encephalograms, and depending on the care of children the sharpness of the cartoon varies.

Scientists studying the "lack of remuneration syndrome" (a condition in which the "rewarding brain center" is activated slowly), an interesting hypothesis arose about the possible significance of a low density of dopamine receptors. It is well known that in normal conditions, dopamine is secreted into the synapse, binds to dopamine receptors, causes euphoria and relieves stress. The syndrome of lack of remuneration is characterized by a decrease in the basal level of dopamine due to inadequate receptor power, and this leads to the need for a person to search for factors that can cause an increase in dopamine levels.

If this behavior is long (addiction), then it ceases to brain and worsens the situation. For example, experiments with cocaine (which causes a strong release of dopamine).

The effects of cocaine were studied in rats. In a rat with cocaine dependence formed, the neurons that mediate the action of cocaine have more synapses than normal rats. That is, cocaine had the same effect on rats as training. That is, a person or a rat who used a drug has undergone "training" to react to the drug, and he has formed pathological neural connections that make for him the experience is easily recoverable, because there are already neural connections. And other neural connections that would normally provide him with pleasant sensations from healthful experiences, because of competitive formation, are weakened. That is, the use of drugs, especially at an early age, changes the morphology and anatomy of neurons, the structure of the cerebral cortex, and evades development from the normal path.

Thus, external increase of dopamine helps to improve the state for a short time, but will dull the sensitivity of dopamine receptors. The more acute the rise of dopamine, the stronger will be its fall after. With constant fluctuations of dopamine, sensitivity to dopamine will fall.

That is why many people, often vested with power or money, develop schizoid and sadistic behavior. In order to have fun, they are forced to resort to hyperstimuli. For people with normal receptors, these hyperstimuli look wild and disgusting. In principle, schizophrenia is based on hyperstimulation of dopamine receptors.

Many aspects of our life are related to the level of dopamine. For example, the increase in social status is associated with the density of dopamine D2 / D3 receptors in the striatum - the brain region responsible for remuneration, motivation and other behavioral processes, in which dopamine plays a decisive role. The results of the research show that people who have attained a higher social status attach greater importance to reward and stimulation, since there are more objects in their striatum that are affected by dopamine. It was found that low density of dopamine receptors was associated with low social status, and high - respectively, with a higher social status. A similar connection was revealed when our volunteers talked about the support they received from friends, relatives or someone significant to them.

These data interestingly highlight the desire to increase social status as the main social process. It sounds plausible that people with a higher level of D2 receptors, that is, with higher motivation and involvement in social relations, will achieve greater success and a higher level of social support.

A low level of D2 / D3 receptors may contribute to the risk of alcoholism among people whose relatives already abuse alcohol. People with a low density of D2 / D3 receptors tend to have a lower social status and less support, and these social factors increase the risk that a person will become an alcoholic or a drug addict.

The possibility of self-realization is also associated with dopamine receptors. In the absence of demand and the possibility of realizing individual possibilities of consciousness, a person ceases to receive satisfaction, dopamine neurons remain "hungry", and a person's mood and level of self-esteem decrease. It turns out that a large number of dopamine receptors can lead to a low self-esteem of a person due to the lack of dopamine due to the possibility of realizing the individual possibilities of consciousness. In the presence of a large number of dopamine receptors, a person should strive more for cognition, development and the possibility of individual realization, which will increasingly reflect the rationality of behavior. Therefore, for people with a high number of dopamine neurons, boredom and lack of opportunity are simply fatal.

A few tips on how to restore the sensitivity of dopamine receptors and the level of dopamine. In advance I will say that these are only general advice, there will be no guarantees of one hundred percent restoration. I advise you to do a genetic test to properly estimate the amount of work.

Dopamine protocol.

1. Dopamine detox.

Remove all external sources of dopamine: lotteries, smoking, drugs, masturbation, coffee, shopping. Remove all "false" pleasures, leave only natural needs. It takes time and patience. Do not give up everything at once, do it gradually.

Dependency is difficult to get rid of, but this is the first step in returning the taste of life. You in fact know, that among smokers on 40% more depressions. The probability of depression in ex-smokers drops sharply a few months after stopping smoking. Look at the picture. Do you see how dependencies reduce the level of dopamine?

Уровень дофамина: как вернуть себе настоящее удовольствие

For example, take smoking. The low level of dopamine that occurs as a result of quitting, in fact, contributes to the occurrence of relapse of smoking. Dopamine serves as a chemical signal in the processes of regulation of remuneration and motivation. Recent research shows that one of the main functions of dopamine is to send a signal to the brain "to seek something pleasant." Indeed, dopamine is excreted in the process of drug use, smoking, sex and eating. Since dopamine is released in response to smoking, it is logical that the level of dopamine is out of norm when a smoker wants to quit smoking. Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine in Texas conducted a study to characterize these changes. They studied mice that were injected with nicotine, the active ingredient of cigarettes, for several weeks. Then the researchers abolished nicotine and measured subsequent changes in the dopamine signaling of the brain. They reported that the rejection of nicotine leads to a deficiency of dopamine, which occurs with repeated exposure to nicotine.

2. Low-stress monotonous medium.

To leave in a boring predictable place (or to create to itself such). No news, no movies. Make your mini-monastery.

The conqueror of the Arctic was asked: - "How do you determine the time of the need to return the polar expedition? ". To which the conqueror of the Arctic responded fairly simply: "I have only one woman on the expedition. When recruiting people for the expedition, I choose the ugliest woman I meet. And if already during the expedition, this woman will seem to me a beauty, then it's time to return to the big earth. "

3. Cultivate modesty, do monotonous monotonous affairs.

The skill to do small things, conceiving and implementing them. Plant a flower bed, hammer a nail. For rehabilitation do not plan cases that take more than two hours. Then, with time, you can increase their duration. Rhythmic monotonous actions help stabilize the changes in neurotransmitters.

4. Mindfulness techniques.

Adopting negative emotions without twisting the negative spiral. Learning to withstand the senses.

5. The technique of presence in the present moment

The technique of presence in the present moment, avoid fantasies about the past or the future. The flow of dopamine can increase even with one remembrance of encouragement. Just thinking about positive experiences can already be a small encouragement. We all like to dream about interesting things for us to cheer ourselves up. Even if it is thoughts of the negative, it is possible to give pleasure even to the idea of ​​how a person leaves the chase, defeats the enemy, solves world problems or copes with personal difficulties (that's why we love action movies, for example). However, some people abuse this method, intentionally overtax this encouragement system, and artificially evoke interesting memories and thoughts for them again and again, because in this way neurotransmitters of good mood (dopamine and serotonin) are produced, losing self-control at the same time.

6. Work with fear of death

Work with the fear of death (for people without suicidal risk).

7. Cognitive therapy and cognitive improvement of personality

Cognitive therapy and cognitive improvement of personality (work on oneself and their actions) on the principle of simple algorithms and daily analysis, such as keeping diaries: thought, appreciated, reacted, why, what other options.

8. Drawing up a list of "real joys"

Making a list of "real joys" (see the difference between real and false pleasure). Create and follow a network of small joys.

Уровень дофамина: как вернуть себе настоящее удовольствие

9. Quality sleep.

Lack of sleep leads to a sharp decrease in dopamine receptors! But this had nothing to do with changes in the level of the neurotransmitter.

10. To be guided in a daily life on process, instead of result.

Individuals who once focused on the possibility of gaining satisfaction from something can no longer restructure their behavior until they achieve their goal. The craving for pleasure is "blocked" by any common sense.