Depression Dopamine vs. Serotonin Which Is More Important?
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Depression Dopamine vs. Serotonin Which Is More Important?


6.6.2018 | Jose Jacobson

In fact, my energy levels were even lower than before (which I didn’t think was even possible as I was struggling with low energy already). They told me I had OCD, GAD and a case of depression. I took it for a year. I was first diagnosed after I had my son in 2013 – when I was 20 years old. Although Zoloft did help me cope a bit with my OCD I had absoluy no energy at all. I had no idea about the GAD but knew about the other two. After I was diagnosed I was given Zoloft. My highest dose was 150mg, but that made me incapacitated so I ended up at about 125 and then gradually weaned off it and quit in april this year.

Tramadol and dopamine levels
Depression Dopamine vs. Serotonin Which Is More Important?

I think many people simply are not aware of the fact that abnormally low levels of dopamine could be the culprit for their depression and possibly their anxiety. Unfortunay the only time this neurotransmitter is going to get a bunch of hype is when the newer class of “triple reuptake inhibitor” medications hits the pharmacies.

God forbid you don’t take them all as required, you wind up becoming worse, being labeled something else with yet another new Rx. It drives me crazy that Dr’s write Rx so easily. They are allowed to come up with all these “cocktails” making you so loopy and dependent.

I produce triple the amount of dopamine of an average person and almost no serotonin. I really think you should research my chemical imbalance.

I hated Effexor, made me numb. I’m still going to research the norepinephrine. After my 2nd kid, it was as effective so the Dr put me on Wellbutrin. I didn’t know about the dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine details. I lived on Lexapro for years! Until it stopped working and went to Celexa (citalaprolam). I agree. I’ve been on every anti depressant since 2002.

I can only imagine how horrendous the withdrawal would be from something that tinkers with that many neurotransmitters. The triple reuptake of neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine sounds more and more like taking an illicit drug. It would be much more favorable to simply target either dopamine or serotonin in my opinion and determine which class of drugs works better.

SSRI’s cause sexual dysfunction and other classes that act more on dopamine or norepinephrine do not. It’s a result of serotonin reuptake inhibition… that’s really all we know.

They may also feel similar to individuals with negative symptoms of schizophrenia in regards to having no motivation (avolition). People with abnormally low levels of dopamine may have difficulties with thinking, memory, and have slow reaction times. They may also experience anhedonia or lack of ability to feel pleasure. Low dopamine : Tends to result in symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.

However, many people believe that “serotonin” may have something to do with depression because SSRI’s are the primary class of drugs used to treat it. Although serotonin may be the neurotransmitter most talked about when it comes to depression, my guess is that dopamine plays just as big of a role – if not a bigger role in depression.

I felt like an utter guinea-pig and when mentioning these side-effects to my doctor, which also included waking every night covered in sweat and a large rash around my groin and arm-pits I was told “well maybe you should ask yourself what’s worse, the side-effects or the depression. The mental alterations that ‘legal’ drugs can do is more criminal than those out there who know how to properly self-medicate. I am now thankfully SSRI free and am so glad to be free of their side-effects, such as premature-ejaculation which took years to pass – and a ‘numbness’ towards life which also took a long time to pass.

It could be though that many people simply have not tried increasing their dopamine to determine whether they notice an antidepressant effect. Based on the symptoms experienced as a result of lower levels of dopamine, it is thought that dopamine plays just as big of a role as serotonin in treating depression. Why then are medications used to treat depression primarily dealing with targeting serotonin only? Because people have been brainwashed by pharmaceutical companies? Maybe.

Now I’m on Wellbutrin (150mgs for two days now). Unfortunay I live in a country (Sweden) which does not prescribe medications meant for other illnesses as antidepressants. I’m hoping this one will help since it covers dopamine instead of serotonin, but I’m afraid it might not be enough. I was given Lexapro a couple of months ago, but as expected that just caused me to be more tired than usual so I quit that one too. I doubt that I could be given Adderall or Concerta for my issues here.

I tend to think that although this development could be useful, it sounds a bit overcomplicated. It seems as though researchers are catching on though and are trying to develop medications that target serotonin, norepinephrine, as well as dopamine. Many people do not need to tinker with all three neurotransmitters at the same time.

Of course dopamine might work in some people’s depression, serotonin in others, norepinephrine in others again, and SNRI’s in others, and psychiatry isn’t just “lets treat the depression” but also “what leads to your depression.” Short story, my history includes parental neglect, sexual assault (resultant PTSD) and psychotic episode, and depression not diagnosed until after starting on antipsychotics. Low dopmanine = no reward, “what’s the point?” and reduced cheer. Low serotonin = aggro, sadness etc.

For about 5 years now I’ve had treatment-resistant depression and have tried almost every antidepressant (Celexa, Effexor, Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, and Parnate.) The only 2 that helped were Wellbutrin and Parnate which both increase dopamine but I couldn’t tolerate the side-effects. I’m very glad to see an article shedding some light on this situation.

With that said, there are many people for whom these drugs do not work very well. I tend to think that in most cases, people who respond well to SSRI antidepressants should just stay on them – they have been proven to work. What ends up happening is that people end up staying on these medications and come off them with abnormally low levels of serotonin. They also come with unwanted side effects and many people have gone through the entire wringer of medications only to find no relief.

If the individual would have targeted their dopamine first, they may have had success than experimenting with drugs that primarily affect serotonin. In this case, now the individual has abnormally low serotonin as well as low dopamine. So the withdrawal is overwhelmingly difficult and the people have a difficult time coping with low serotonin. In many cases, the original problem wasn’t necessarily low serotonin, it may have been abnormally low dopamine.

I have been suffering from OCD my whole life and had my first really bad depression when I was 11. I suffered from “on and off” depression and my OCD came to visit me several times each year. My teenage years became a roller-coaster like no other. I want to thank you for this report. I was out of school for 3 quarters of a year and I don’t remember much of the worst times I had because I was so distant from everything.

The best combination I’ve found, which I’m on now, is Adderall and Mirapex (a dopamine agonist usually used for Parkinson’s Disease). Wellbutrin destroyed my memory (the nicotinic receptor it blocks which aids in smoking cessation is also necessary for learning and brain plasticity.) Parnate helped with depression but I started getting leg swelling and always had a headache & nausea. The Adderall has helped a lot with motivation, better decision making, and an interest in achieving long term goals again.

I’m not endorsing high dopamine states however, as it can cause mania, compulsive behavior, etc. It leads to sluggishness, drowsiness, apathy and (when REALLY high, such as in early pregnancy or cancer patients getting chemotherapy) nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But the serotonin theory of depression is indeed outdated and not supported by good science. Additionally, a high serotonin state is not “good”.

They don’t seem to be getting me to where I want to be as far as motivation goes, though. Any advice as to what I should say to my doctor to point him in a better direction for my case?. I have been on a daily dosage of Buproprion HCI 150mg and Sertraline 100mg for several years now. I’m confused by all of this.

If antidepressants are supposed to make you feel better, how do SSRIs cause sexual dysfunction unlike dopamine drugs such as wellbutrin, it’s not so simple because they are different dopamine receptors.

I’m afraid to reveal my method for staying healthy, I have an idea the majority would like to squash dopamine treatment for judicial purposes. I really appreciate this blog. I don’t get high but I do realize there possible benefits. Dopamine chemicals are highly sought after by the law because everybody seems to be using some form of them to get high. I have been struggling with a diagnosis of Schizo-Affect Bipolar type for years.

It’s a disgusting shame that content like this is only being heavily talked about by the few. What needs to also be looked at, is that there are a large number of people with depression who do “get high” because it makes them feel more normal. Some countries and their therapists may very well be more ‘liberal’ but many countries and their therapists are not. “Symptoms” such as being more talkative and having motivation shouldn’t be illegal – if the alternative is so much worse. I am one of those people who has been ‘put through the ringer’ by SSRI medication – and can happily say I accidentally found relief with Tramadol (an SNRI that also releases Dopamine).

In Parkinson’s dopamine agonists are used because of defective receptors, dopamine antagonist’s are used for mental illness also which is odd, however agonist’s can make the brain less sensitive to dopamine and antagonist’s more sensitive, reuptake inhibitors keep it in place, and they have releasing agents.

With that said, many drugs like Paxil may indirectly affect dopamine receptors in the brain and actually improve them. Some people do respond very well to SSRI’s and the increase in serotonin may be helping. There is some overlap between serotonin and dopamine that cannot be ignored. So there can be certain links between SSRI’s and dopamine.

It doesn’t hurt to research how diet and exercise can dramatically improve brain chemistry.

As psychosis seems to be due to over elevated dopamine, the psych I just started seeing has put me on SNRI’s, as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor or an amphetamine might trigger a second psychotic episode. At a stretch, I could be considered ADHD but I have no classic childhood history. I’ve believed I was under surveillance and could decode number plates once, and that was enough.

Just because drug companies want yo make a buck does not mean it’s a conspiracy to boost everybody’s serotonin levels.

Dopamine runs mainly ito the frontal cortex and affects your state of reward, as well as things like euphoria. Hold up there a second, the article states how serotonin does affect aggression and sadness (the latter a well known part of depression) and this neurotransmitter is involved with mood (and feeds into the hippocampus, which is the store for memory and feeling).

The goal of this article was not to say that dopamine is the magic cure for depression and serotonin levels don’t play a role. It simply was written to address the fact that dopamine hasn’t been discussed as much as serotonin in regards to depression.

I can seem to narrow my symptoms down to anxiety, then simply pop a fish oil gel capsule. Thanks for the blog. Straight stimulant drugs work the best. Keep working on this idea dopamine is a better solution for depression, you get my vote. Tyro-sine 500 mg in the morning, 40mg of Strattera at noon and 1.5mg of olanzapine at night for sleep. An assortment of vitamin also, inositol, b-12, acidophilous probiotic. What a pain in the ass though.

I was lucky enough to find a psychiatrist who trusted my insight enough to let me try this. Also, while most literature advices against prescribing stimulants to persons with a history of substance abuse, I was drinking heavily to alleviate anxiety prior to this combination and now have been sober for over two years. The Mirapex seems to be keeping me from developing too much of a tolerance to Adderall and has a somewhat calming effect and makes me not have a “crash” between Adderall doses.

I also appreciate the scientific research provided here to back up my experience throughout my 20+ year ‘journey’ & struggles with depression and especially avolition (which I hadn’t realized was a proper term for how I felt prior to reading this). Thank you. I’ve been diagnosed with everything from bipolar (despite never having a manic episode) to depression with anxiety and ADD which runs in my family and have struggled with intermittent stimulant abuse and addiction over these 20+ years.

That discussion on serotonin/dopamine etc sure cleared my understanding to the level of muddy water…thanks!

I have found my depression much worse. When prescribed Celexa, Zoloft etc. I also find that a very small amount of Tramadol helps greatly with my depression.

Obviously there are psychiatrists that have become more liberal in what they prescribe, which is why some will prescribe a SSRI with a stimulant as an antidepressant augmentation strategy. Many people find that the antidepressant effect of Adderall wears off and the person builds up a tolerance to the drug. Giving someone with severe depression a psychostimulant medication tends to work pretty well (and quickly) at alleviating symptoms.

Did this combo make you gain weight?

I didn’t mean to advocate the use of illegal substances – but was instead complaining about countries and physicians who are not willing to look into dopaminergics – for example the only use of Wellbutrin in my country is for a short term course for those people giving up cigarette smoking. In the past I found very small micro doses throughout the day of Tramadol would keep my depression at bay, however I did not have a prescription for it. When people try the dopamine angle for themselves they are very often breaking the law. I got a little off topic in part of that post – but to summarise, I compley agree with the author here and many of the people commenting.

Many people with schizophrenia have abnormally low dopamine and as a result aren’t able to get motivated or stay productive. The reason I tend to think dopamine plays a huge role in treating depression is because if you look at individuals with low dopamine, they have difficulties with memory, thinking, organization, and experience an inability to feel pleasure.

With that said, this could be a reason why using Wellbutrin for ADHD works in some cases. Most dopamine reuptake inhibitors are weak in their reuptake of actual dopamine. The major difference between these medications and older ones is that they include the reuptake inhibition of dopamine. Although Wellbutrin can inhibit reuptake dopamine, it does it to a very little degree.

Most people that think outside the box know that dopamine plays a role in depression. Then we are going to have a bunch of scientific information and testimonials about the importance of dopamine in treating depression. Serotonin-based medications work well in some cases to treat symptoms, but do not work for everyone. The reason that most psychostimulant medications aren’t used to treat depression is because they have a high addiction potential.

When these stimulants end up in the wrong hands, the individual may build a tolerance, develop an addiction, and use it to get a “high.” The abuse potential is very high if it ends up in the wrong hands. Additionally, many people may not be able to handle the stimulant crashes (e.g. With that said, most people notice that it works quite well for the first few weeks of taking it. Adderall crash ).

Cocaine does stimulate all three I believe but is more like a rep-uptake inhibitor. In addition atypical anti psychotics also block histamine and serotonin receptors, so some arguments in favor are puzzling.

From what I’ve looked at via google searches from increased aggression, low serotonin also seems to lead to an increased sex drive. So, conversely, upping serotonin or lengthening the time serotonin remains active in the brain seems to lead to heightened inhibition, end result, reduced sex drive. Its because serotonin helps regulate sexual function at a particular level, or inhibit it.

On the side, the reason an SSRI/SNRI’s might make you nauseous or give you diarrhea because serotonin is also in your gut, and when you get an irritant (bad food etc), its the hormone that speeds up digestion to get the irritant out the back (diarrhea) or purge it frontwards (nausea and ultimay vomit).

My personal experience is that some individuals with depression and/or anxiety may respond very well to medications that deal with dopamine more than they do serotonin. I have had success in using Adderall for depression as well as anxiety.

It also may result in impulsivity, feeling suicidal, aggressive behavior, etc. Low serotonin : Results in OCD-like symptoms including obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Lower levels of serotonin are linked to mood swings, sugar cravings, worrying, insomnia, and sadness.

There is absoluy no clear cut evidence that low neurotransmitter levels even cause depression. It could be caused by trauma, a difficult childhood, abuse, drug usage, and other external events. Someone may have experienced developmental problems in the womb or have been exposed to certain toxins. Depression itself is pretty subjective and can have a number of causes. It can also be caused by genetics and biological factors. This may lead to the development of depression.

This time, my husband is very supportive in the process and has been an exceptional pillar. Recently, he asked if I’d like to “come off” the Celexa. I am still taking the 150mg of Wellbutrin but thought I should research vitamin supplements to help me along this process. Having tried this multiple times and feeling like I could not, I always started my dosage again. I hated taking 2 meds, but they worked.

I am grateful for the stability these drugs have given me over the past 13 years. So, I went out and purchased them. Keep doing your research and keep informing people. I am hopeful that there is another way out instead of being dependent on Rx medication. There are different ones to take whether you want to increase serotonin or dopamine.

The combination works like a triple reuptake inhibitor. I take Effexor XR (Venlaine / SNRI) 75 mg and Metadate ER (Methylphenidate / DNRI) 20 mg daily upon waking. I had previously tried Prozac and Wellbutrin together but they did not work as well for me.

Anxiety seems to have a greater link to low serotonin levels than depression. Amen! SSRIs might work for some cases of depression only because the drugs treat anxiety.

And I had much lower energy. It increases dopamine production. It’s compley changed me. Tyrosine has greatly helped with both of those. Try supplementing with fairly high doses of tyrosine. The SSRI helped, but I still had several hours a day where I’d be depressed. I’ve been on an SSRI for years and just added tyrosine a couple weeks ago.

Tramadol and dopamine levels