Tag Archives: dopamine

Got the News Blues?

Is keeping up with the daily news giving you the blues?

Well then, stop it already!

One of the key ways to feel happier is to stop focusing attention on things that make you feel miserable, fearful, overwhelmed… like the news!

Naturally, we humans seek what is new and tend to ignore what is old and familiar. The news uses sensationalism to provoke excitement and interest in people (which increases their ratings) at the expense of providing accurate information.

We know that the news is most often skewed one way or the other. Keeping up with inaccurate information that is fed to make people feel afraid and vulnerable is ludicrous.

Why do you want to watch the news even though it makes you feel awful? Well, because you, like all of us are probably addicted to dopamine!

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel good, really good. And wanting to continue to feel that way makes us crave this brain chemical.

Dopamine is the source of all of our addictions. Cocaine, coffee, sex, news… they all give us a hit of it. Even checking our text messages and social media sites give us a hit.

So what? If we like it, lets just keep doing it. I’m always advocating that people do what makes them feel good so what’s my problem with dopamine?

Well my problem is, is that long term, continuing to chase our next hit of dopamine will fuck us up! Big time!

The more we chase the next dopamine hit, the less control we have over ourselves. The more we walk down that shortcut to the dopamine feel good centre, the more our other, more scenic and leisurely paths overgrow.

beautiful path
beautiful path

It’s those scenic and leisurely paths that lead us to creativity and will connect us to our spirit. The more we wander on these more wholesome paths, the happier we will be. The more time we take on these paths,the more able we will be to respond to the situations in our lives that are effecting us directly with compassion and care.

Leave the news off. Focus on yourself, your immediate surroundings and making the small changes you can make on a daily basis to make these surroundings more harmonious, beautiful and fulfilling.

That’s the news for today.

 

Caffiene Chemistry

As with most things, our love for caffeine, comes down to brain chemistry! I am no chemist, but here are the basics. It’s all about neurotransmitters adenosine, adrenaline (epinephrine) and dopamine.

ADENOSINE
Adenosine is made in the brain and once it is made, it searches for its receptor to bond with. The reaction of the binding of adenosine and its receptor causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity.

This also causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing the amount of oxygen into the organs. Chemically, caffeine looks like adenosine. So, it fits into adenosine’s receptor cell.

This disables adenosine from binding with its receptor and it causes the opposite reaction. When these two bind, instead of causing the vasodilatation and drowsiness that would normally occur with adenosine, the caffeine causes the nerve cells to speed up.

This causes blood vessels to constrict and causes increased neuron firing. In response to the increased  neuron firing, the pituitary gland prepares for an emergency.

A “fight or flight” response occurs and the adrenal glands produce epinephrine (adrenalin).  

EPINEPHRINE (ADRENALIN)
During our “fight or flight” caused by epinephrine, our pupils dilate, our airways open, muscles tighten, our blood pressure rises, blood flow is directed to the main organs and less into the extremities, the liver releases sugar into the blood stream, and blood flow to the stomach slows. Now we are ready for action! Many of us in this mild fight or flight response function better than we would otherwise. We are more alert and we are ready for anything!

DOPAMINE
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure centres in parts of the brain. Caffeine slows down the reabsorption rate of dopamine down (as does heroine and cocaine).

This leaves more dopamine in the synapse, available for use. Having more dopamine makes us feel fantastic. The dopamine is a key contributor to our world wide caffeine addiction.

That’s the end of our basic caffeine chemistry lesson for today. Remember:

  • Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
  • Too much coffee can decrease serotonin levels (another feel good brain neurotransmitter).
  • Too much caffeine also will interfere with your sleep.

The emphasis here is “too much”; however, drinking between 400-500mg of coffee daily can actually have health benefits. Another rule of thumb….

Moderation is key if you wanna stay happy. :)