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Functional Neurology: Differences Between Dopamine and Serotonin

Functional Neurology: Differences Between Dopamine and Serotonin | El Paso, TX Chiropractor



Dopamine and serotonin are known as the "happy chemicals" because they play a fundamental role in regulating our mood. These two neurotransmitters or chemical messengers control a variety of functions in the brain and body, including digestion and sleep. Although dopamine and serotonin are in charge of many of the same things, these happy chemicals do so in slightly different ways. Dopamine and serotonin deficiencies can also cause a variety of health issues, including mood changes and depression. In the following article, we will ultimately discuss the differences between dopamine and serotonin.

What is a Neurotransmitter?

As previously mentioned, a neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger in the brain that sends signals to other areas of the body. Dopamine and serotonin are two of the many different types of neurotransmitters in the brain and body. Below is a list of some of the most well-known neurotransmitters, including:

  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Norepinephrine
  • Acetylcholine
  • Glycine
  • Glutamate
  • GABA

Understanding Neurotransmitters

Our brain is one of the most complex organs in the human body. The nervous system contains more than 100 billion nerves which are continuously sending signals from the brain to the rest of the body, ultimately regulating our mental and physical health. However, various factors can cause many problems. Dopamine and serotonin deficiencies, by way of instance, can cause a variety of mental and physical health issues, such as depression. While these two neurotransmitters are both commonly referred to as "happy chemicals", it's important to understand that dopamine and serotonin also play different roles.

What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a well-known neurotransmitter released in the brain to send signals between nerve cells. Our brain and body use dopamine to produce other compounds known as norepinephrine and epinephrine. Dopamine plays a fundamental role in the "pleasure and reward center" in the brain, or a collection of functions in the brain that control mood, motivation, and movement. Healthy dopamine levels can also affect a variety of other functions, including:

  • alertness
  • learning
  • mood
  • motivation
  • movement
  • blood circulation
  • urine output
  • sleep

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is another neurotransmitter used to send signals between nerve cells. However, about 90 percent of the human body's serotonin can be found in the gut, where it helps control a variety of functions in the digestive system. Healthy serotonin levels can also affect a variety of other functions, including:

  • focus and concentration
  • mood, emotions, and feelings
  • appetite and digestion
  • hormonal activity
  • circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle
  • blood clotting
  • body temperature

Dopamine, Serotonin, and Depression

Depression is one of the most common and well-known mental health issues which is ultimately caused by a variety of factors, such as dopamine and serotonin deficiencies. Both of these neurotransmitters or chemical messengers can also play a fundamental role in depression, however, many healthcare professionals are still trying to understand the true cause of depression. Research studies have demonstrated that dopamine and serotonin deficiencies caused by other underlying health issues may be associated with depression. Several common symptoms of depression can ultimately include:

  • decreased or reduced motivation
  • feelings of helplessness
  • loss of interest in things that used to interest you

Dopamine, Serotonin, and Other Health Issues

Because dopamine and serotonin play a fundamental role in a variety of functions in the brain and body, it is no surprise that these "happy chemicals" are also essential in our mental and physical health. When both of these neurotransmitters are functioning accordingly, they can ultimately help us feel happy and more emotionally balanced. As previously mentioned, however, dopamine and serotonin deficiencies can also cause various other health issues.   Doing anything that we find enjoyable, from eating a good meal to having sex, can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain and body. That release is what makes several things addicting like drugs and gambling. Scientists have determined that it doesn't take long for the brain to associate several of these things with a release of dopamine. Research studies have also found that dopamine deficiencies may be associated with other health issues, such as:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • schizophrenia
  • bipolar disorder

Furthermore, according to several research studies in 2014, serotonin deficiencies were also associated with a variety of other health issues, including:

  • anxiety disorders
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • autism
  • bipolar disorder

What are the Differences Between Dopamine and Serotonin?

Dopamine and serotonin are both neurotransmitters or chemical messengers that send signals between the brain and body. However, the primary functions of these well-known "happy chemicals" are very different. Dopamine is associated with the pleasure and reward center in the brain while serotonin is associated with our mood and it is more of a stabilizer than a booster. Also, dopamine controls movement while serotonin controls digestion and sleep.


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Dopamine and serotonin are two well-known neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, that play a fundamental role in our mood and a variety of other functions in the brain and body. Dopamine helps control mood, motivation, and movement while serotonin helps control positive feelings and social behavior, learning and memory, appetite as well as our circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. Dopamine and serotonin deficiencies can cause a variety of mental and physical health issues, including anxiety, depression, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bipolar disorder. In this article, we will discuss the differences between the release of dopamine and serotonin in the brain and body. - Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight

Dopamine and serotonin are known as the "happy chemicals" because they play a fundamental role in regulating our mood. These two neurotransmitters or chemical messengers control a variety of functions in the brain and body, including digestion and sleep. Although dopamine and serotonin are in charge of many of the same things, these happy chemicals do so in slightly different ways. Dopamine and serotonin deficiencies can also cause a variety of health issues, including mood changes and depression. In the article above, we ultimately discussed the differences between dopamine and serotonin.

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900

Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez

References:
  1. Eske, Jamie. “Dopamine vs. Serotonin: Similarities, Differences, and Relationship.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 19 Aug. 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326090.php.
  2. Vandergriendt, Carly. “What's the Difference Between Dopamine and Serotonin?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 5 Dec. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/dopamine-vs-serotonin.
  3. Puskar, Michael. “What Is The Difference Between Serotonin And Dopamine?” Betterhelp, BetterHelp, 6 May 2018, www.betterhelp.com/advice/medication/what-is-the-difference-between-serotonin-and-dopamine/.

Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain

Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient's mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.





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