Difference between Serotonin and Dopamine
Originally published in The Difference Between.net
Difference between Serotonin and Dopamine
Dopamine and serotonin are the two most important neurotransmitters in the brain. The effects of these naturally occurring chemicals has been studied and linked to numerous functions in the brain. Although they seem to work the same, they have distinct functions and symptoms in the brain. It is also often a case that at times patients are misdiagnosed with either one. For instance, a patient with dopamine deficiency may be mistakenly administered with serotonin medications. This, therefore, brings the importance of understanding the key differences between these neurotransmitters.
Definition of Dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for our pleasure, ecstasy, satisfaction, achievement celebration, etc. When we celebrate our achievements, fulfillments, or fall in love, our brain releases dopamine. This is very good as it elevates our health because the deficiency of dopamine has been linked with numerous health disorders.
Quite often, the lack of dopamine is witnessed by lack of motivation, feeling of low energy, Parkinson’s disease, poor digestion, etc. Both the low and high levels of dopamine can be detrimental to your health. And to treat this deficiency, patients are often prescribed drugs that will replenish the chemical.
The Schizophrenia disease is also linked to the imbalance of dopamine in the brain. The imbalance of serotonin is also attributed to the prevalence of this disease. To treat it, drugs are being used to combat the symptoms thereof. Note that some effects low levels of serotonin and dopamine can overlap in some cases.
Whenever you have a feeling of low energy, or you are demotivated to complete tasks or procrastinate to accomplish your work, it may be related to some dopamine shortages in your brain. In the clinical tests with rats, the rats with low levels of dopamine portrayed the dislike of excessive food. This is a similar case in human beings. Those with low levels tend to have low interests in food. That might be the time to visit your healthcare or take the patient to the doctor because those suffering from these may not have the edge to take themselves to the physician.
Dopamine is actually classified as an excitatory neurotransmitter because of its stimulatory effects on the brain, whereas serotonin is classified as an inhibitory neurotransmitter for its calming effects in the brain. But, dopamine can, in some circumstances be both inhibitory and excitatory. Drug stimulants such as ADHD and caffeine are used to increase the dopamine levels.
Definition of Serotonin
Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Unlike the dopamine, serotonin does not have the stimulatory effects in the brain, so it can only be inhibitory not excitatory. Nonetheless, it also has significant role in the brain. It makes you to be calm or bring you good moods. Serotonin helps regulate appetite, sleep cycle, inhibit violence and suppress pain. The deficiency of this chemical can also lead to depression, whereas the low levels of dopamine lead to Parkinson’s disease (Train, et al., 2011). Furthermore, the low levels of serotonin can be a gateway to various illnesses such as immunosuppression.
A person with a good balance of serotonin feels very important in life. Those with an imbalance can be suicidal. The criminals in society are more likely to be suffering from the low levels of serotonin. By embracing the past achievements, you can trigger the increase of serotonin in the brain. Even an exposure to sunlight can trigger this increase because of the provision of Vitamin D from the light. However, do not overexpose yourself to sunlight as it can be damaging to your skin.
Obsession, impulse, memory loss, and irritability can be solved by administering serotonin drugs. These drugs are often prescribed to patients that suffer from anxiety and depression. The other consideration with serotonin is its synthesis. Serotonin (hydroxytryptamine – its chemical name) is produced from amino acids that you consume from milk, whole grains and cheese.
Key differences between dopamine and serotonin
Effects in the body
Dopamine is associated with Parkinson disease. The body needs great balance of dopamine for effective movements as it triggers the release fluids needed for movements. The deficiency is seen by having stiff feet. In contrast, the role of serotonin in body movements is, however, not clearly defined, but has effects in supporting other chemicals.
Effects in the brain
The reason that you feel motivated or excited is because of adequate dopamine levels in the brain. Serotonin, on the other hand, helps you calm and enhance your moods. The imbalance of these chemicals can cause anxiety and depression disorders. Patients suffering from serotonin are more likely to think of committing suicide. They are also prone to increased impulsivity. In contrast, dopamine deficiency leads to lack of motivation.
Dopamine is synthesized from the amino acid tyrosine, whereas serotonin is synthesized from amino acid tryptophan. Hydroxylation and decarboxylation are two processes in synthesizing serotonin neurotransmitter.
|Play role in pleasurable moments such as when you are excited, motivated||Play a role in calming you, suppressing pain and controlling depression|
|Excitatory neurotransmitter||Inhibitory neurotransmitter|
|Effective in the hypothalamus, substantia nigra and midbrain sections||Effective in raphe nucleus and central section section of the brain.|
|Synthesized from tyrosine amino acid||Synthesized from tryptophan amino acid|
|Deficiency is linked with Parkinson disease||Deficiency is linked with anxiety and depression disorders|
|Low levels lead to memory loss, low sex drive, poor digestion, poor cognition||Low levels lead to high sensitivity to pain, always angry, suffering from insomnia|
- Dopamine and serotonin are two most neurotransmitters in the brain
- Dopamine is responsible for our happiness, excitement, motivation, etc.
- It is an excitatory neurotransmitter
- It is synthetized from tyrosine amino acid
- Serotonin is, on the other hand, an inhibitory neurotransmitter
- It is responsible for our moods, pain suppression, sleep cycle, social behaviors, etc.
- It is synthetized from tryptophan
- It is linked with anxiety and depression disorders.
- Both low levels of dopamine and serotonin are linked to Schizophrenia disease.
- Some roles can overlap
- The low levels of dopamine and serotonin can be administered with medications
- Important: Depression can be caused by numerous factors apart from the imbalance of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a popular neurotransmitter discussed when addressing the issue of depression although dopamine is also believed to have some effects too.
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