What the heck is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a chemical found naturally in the human body. It is a neurotransmitter, meaning it sends signals from the body to the brain. Dopamine plays a part in controlling the movements a person makes, as well as their emotional responses. The right balance of dopamine is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing.

Vital brain functions that affect mood, sleep, memory, learning, concentration, and motor control are influenced by the levels of dopamine in a person’s body.

Dopamine serves as the reward and pleasure center in the brain, and messenger of the sympathetic nervous system in the periphery. DOPAC and HVA are dopamine metabolites.

High Levels of Dopamine:

High dopamine is reported in patients with high in:

  • anxiety
  • stress
  • paroxysmal hypertension
  • primary aldosteronism
  • PTSD
  • mercury toxicity

Low levels of dopamine:

Dopamine is low in:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • anorexia nervosa
  • fibromyalgia
  • hypertension
  • periodic limb movement disorder
  • sleep disturbances
  • hypoadrenergic orthostatic hypotension


  • Field T, Diego M, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. Prenatal dopamine and neonatal behavior and biochemistry. Infant Behav Dev. 2008;31:590-3.
  • Ghaddar A, Omar KH, Dokmak M, et al. Work-related stress and urinary catecholamines among laboratory technicians. J Occup Health 2014;55:398-404.
  • Kuchel O, Buu NT, Larochelle P, et al. Episodic dopamine discharge in paroxysmal hypertension. Page’s syndrome revisited. Arch Intern Med. 1986;146:1315-20.
  • Ishiguro T, Shimamoto K, Sakamoto T, et al. Renal dopaminergic activity in patients with primary aldosteronism. Hypertens Res. 1995;18 Suppl 1:S193-S5.
  • Yehuda R, Southwick S, Giller EL, et al. Urinary catecholamine excretion and severity of PTSD symptoms in Vietnam combat veterans. J Nerv Ment Dis 1992;180:321-5.
  • Houston MC. Role of mercury toxicity in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich) 2011;13:621-7.
  • Liu L, Li Q, Li N, et al. Simultaneous determination of catecholamines and their metabolites related to Alzheimer’s disease in human urine. J Sep Sci 2011;34:1198-204.
  • Van Binsbergen CJ, Odink J, Van der Beek EJ, et al. Biogenic amines in anorexia nervosa: circadian rhythm in urinary excretion and influence of posture and physical task load on plasma catecholamines. Psychosom Med 1991;53:440-52.
  • Riva R, Mork PJ, Westgaard RH, et al. Catecholamines and heart rate in female fibromyalgia patients. J Psychosom Res 2012;72:51-7.
  • Gill JR, Jr., Grossman E, Goldstein DS. High urinary dopa and low urinary dopamine-to-dopa ratio in salt-sensitive hypertension. Hypertension. 1991;18:614-21.
  • Cohrs S, Guan Z, Pohlmann K, et al. Nocturnal urinary dopamine excretion is reduced in otherwise healthy subjects with periodic leg movements in sleep. Neurosci Lett 2004;360:161-4.
  • Seay JS, McIntosh R, Fekete EM, et al. Self-reported sleep disturbance is associated with lower CD4 count and 24-h urinary dopamine levels in ethnic minority women living with HIV. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2013;38:2647-53.
  • Kuchel O, Buu NT, Hamet P, et al. Orthostatic hypotension: a posture-induced hyperdopaminergic state. Am J Med Sci. 1985;289:3-11.


The information on is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.


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