What is Dopamine used for?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced in different parts of the brain including the ventral tegmental area, the substantia nigra, and the hypothalamus. As a hormone, it plays a key role in the central nervous system and is highly-involved in the brain’s mechanism regarding reward and motivation. It is also part of the catecholamine group of neurotransmitters that also include noradrenaline and adrenaline.
Dopamine’s main function is for efficiency in several aspects of the central nervous system. In its medication form, it is used to act on the sympathetic nervous system with resulting elevations in heart rate and blood pressure levels. Because of this effect, dopamine in drug form is widely used in treating those in shock or those with low blood pressure. When dopamine is administered in these cases, heart function will improve and the blood supply to the brain and other vital organs will also improve.
The most common use for dopamine is in the treatment of a medical condition called Parkinson’s disease. In this particular condition, the patient’s motor functions and thought processes are impaired because of a lack of dopamine in the brain or the central nervous system. Patients with Parkinson’s disease will present with resting tremors, very slow movement which may be secondary to rigidity in muscles. Most patients also have a stooped posture and will have difficulty standing and walking. The facial expressions are also lost resulting to a “confused” look along with other cognitive impairments.
Aside from Parkinson’s disease, low dopamine levels in the brain may also lead to ADHD in children. On the other hand, an excess of this hormone will also lead to other conditions like paranoia, several types of addictions, and phobias. With its varying effects on various cognitive and motor functions, dopamine levels need to reach a certain balance to counter the negative effects of too much or too little of it.