Anhedonia Treatment: Dopamine The Neurohormone

Anhedonia is a symptom that is often linked to major depressive disorder. The brain’s pleasure center is effected by changes in the neurotransmitter, dopamine. If the dopamine level is high, then the individual will experience elated joy and happiness, when the level is low the exact opposite will occur.

Dopamine Reactions

When an individual experiences a high level of stress and pain, dopamine will play an active role, as an intermediary. Since dopamine is classified as a neurohormone (hormone and neurotransmitter), it will play many roles in the brain and body. It is acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system to send signals from the brain’s neurons to other nerve cells throughout the body.

Outside of the CNS, dopamine plays the role of a chemical messenger. As a hormone, it can help decrease the production of insulin, increase the excretion of sodium, and decrease gastrointestinal motility, since it is released directly into the bloodstream. Dopamine is responsible for the “fight or flight response” and capable of constricting the blood vessels, by inhibiting the release or norepinephrine, which is another neurotransmitter.  Norepinephrine and adrenaline work alongside each other to increase blood pressure and serum glucose levels.

Dopamine Linked to Schizophrenia

It has been determined by many medical researchers that low levels of dopamine is linked to schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, and ADHD. The dopamine hypothesis has determined that an overactive dopamine system, which is located within the brain, is responsible for schizophrenia. When there is an overabundance of this neurotransmitter, schizophrenics will exhibit paranoia, psychosis, extreme irritability, and insomnia.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive is also known as clinical depression may be linked to alterations in the neurotransmitters and genetics. This form of depression may decrease the hedonic capacity, which will lead to anhedonia.

Anhedonia is a lack of feeling pleasure in activities that used to bring great joy and happiness. This is a very common symptom that individuals with major depression will experience over a long period of time, if not treated properly.

Anhedonia Treatment

There are many antidepressants and psychotropic drugs (SSRIs, MAOIs) that are capable of balancing neurotransmitter levels, especially dopamine. While these drugs will help alleviate the anhedonia symptoms, you will also find many activities that are very therapeutically beneficial and can be utilized in conjunction with these medications.

  • Exercise will increase dopamine excretion
  • Psychotherapy
  • Yoga
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Engage in group activities