Definition - What does Dopamine mean?
Dopamine is a catecholamine that acts as a neurotransmitter in the human body. Dopamine is naturally produced by the body but also manufactured for use as a medication. A natural neurotransmitter, dopamine acts on the central nervous system affecting the body's movements, emotions and dreams.
Dopamine is commonly associated with one of its primary functions, regulating the brains reward and pleasure centers. The presence of specific dopamine receptors in the brain has been associated with risk-taking behaviors and an increased susceptibility to addiction.
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While dopamine plays an essential role in the proper functioning of the nervous system, too much or too little dopamine in the body can lead to serious medical consequences.
Low levels of dopamine during prenatal development can cause mental impairments. Insufficient dopamine has been linked to a number of neurological disorders including ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Excessive levels of dopamine can also cause mental illness or neurological disorders. The effect of some illegal drugs is caused by the drug's disruption of the body's dopamine levels.
When used as a medication, dopamine is administered by injection. Acting as a vasopressor, dopamine is used to treat low blood pressure in emergent situations such as shock caused by heart attack or heart failure.