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Prioritizing Mental Health: The Neuroscience Behind Dopamine & Mental Health

Article by Danica Piyck


Mental health encompasses the emotional, social, and psychological well-being of an individual. It is a field of healthcare (and a broad field of study) that involves important concepts found in psychology, biology, psychiatry, neuroscience, and other related fields.


Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers utilized by neurons (nerve cells that send messages throughout the body) to communicate amongst one another. Dopamine (DA), is a neurotransmitter most primarily known for its role in producing a “rewarding” feeling following the completion of certain tasks or exposure to certain stimuli.


In light of October 10th (World Mental Health Day), let’s delve further into the importance of mental health prioritization, and the neuroscience behind the role of neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) in relation to mental health.


Prioritizing Mental Health


During recent times, mental health has been examined in greater detail; as time passes, society has become more familiar with the definition and presence of mental health, and with the benefits of prioritizing and taking care of their own mental health. Psychologists believe mental health to be just as important as physical health; it is an essential component of human health that has a vast impact on both short-term and long-term human functioning. It is additionally linked to human, social, and economic development.


When we choose to neglect our mental health, we may face problems that become detrimental over time. Researchers believe poor mental health to be associated with relative social disadvantages in whole populations or in vulnerable subgroups. Mental health problems may pose many challenges, resulting in various consequences. To avoid such consequences, individuals can take the time to implement certain objectives into their daily lives to alleviate stressors and other factors contributing to deteriorating mental health.


Simple suggestions for mental health prioritization are listed below:


  1. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle - ensuring you make time for regular physical exercise, incorporate elements of a balanced diet, and receive enough sleep to improve your well-being.

  2. Managing stress - practicing mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and other stress management techniques can positively contribute to mental health prioritization.

  3. Practicing self-care - integrating a self-care routine that includes performing activities you enjoy such as reading, painting, going to the gym, going for hikes, etc., will significantly contribute to the improvement of mental health prioritization.


The Neuroscience Behind Dopamine & Mental Health


The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA), is one of the many neurotransmitters that holds a significant role in relation to mental health. Dopamine is most predominantly known for its role in reward regulation in the human brain. It has additionally been shown to be involved in direct or indirect physiological functioning occurring in the Central Nervous System (CNS).


Dopamine and mental health are vastly related to one another; through thorough research, it has been revealed that low levels of dopamine can produce feelings of decreased motivation, and lack of excitement. Heightened dopamine levels have been shown to be associated with increased aggressive tendencies, poor impulse control, and competitive behavior. Furthermore, dopamine plays an important role in relation to mental health conditions; Scientists have discovered that imbalances of dopamine neurotransmission and alterations of brain circuits where dopamine is present are involved in neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases. Alcoholism, drug addiction, and schizophrenia are examples of dopamine-associated diseases.


As mentioned prior, it is vital to pay close attention to your mental health, and to be properly educated of dopamine’s role in regards to mental health.

This article is only a brief introduction to mental health and neurotransmitters; to further flourish your understanding of these two prominent topics in neuroscience, please adhere to the following articles:


Discover more about World Mental Health Day:


Read more about mental health:


Learn more about neurotransmitters:


More about Dopamine (DA):



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