High Prolactin, Low Dopamine and Breaking Bad Habits

4 Nov

I have been foggy, detached and libido-less for some time. Chalk it up to high prolactin from all the nursing and pumping I’ve been doing. But, all that good stuff that’s been going to my baby has left me low in dopamine and hanging on to some eating habits that I’ve been desperately trying to shake. Now I can see that my habits aren’t a sign of weakness in my character. Rather, I am struggling with a bout of low dopamine and my food habits are just my way of trying to get them up to par.

What is this habit I am referring to? Nut butters. Nut butters of all kinds. I won’t discriminate. Standing in my kitchen at night, I can eat half a container of almond butter right off the spoon. It’s not like a binge. I go back for little bits throughout the night until bed. Before I know it I’ve plunged myself into Omega 6 spiral.

So, what’s with this low dopamine? Does having high prolactin from nursing relate to this? And, ultimately, how can I raise my dopamine through other healthier measures?

Having high prolactin (breastfeeding) means low dopamine – they have an inverse relationship
Having low dopamine is associated with cravings, depression, addictions, lack of attention, sometimes stiff and achy muscles, tremors
Things that trigger dopamine range from drugs, alcohol, sugar, the mere taste of sweet (artificial sweeteners!), caffeine, high calorie foods, gambling, shopping. On a healthier side, moderate exercise, learning, sex (although once the act is “complete” prolactin shoots up and dopamine drops) and massage also raise dopamine.
Here’s a chart that illustrates the dopamine spectrum: 
Anhedonia – No Pleasure, World Looks Colorless
Inability To “Love”
Feelings Of Well-Being, Satisfaction
No Remorse About Personal Behavior
Pleasure, Reward In Accomplishing Tasks
Healthy Libido
Addictions, Compulsions
Addictions (seeking relief from depression)
Good Feelings Toward Others
Paraphilias (Sexual Fetishes)
Antisocial behavior
Healthy bonding
Sexual Addiction
Low Libido
Maternal/Paternal Love
Unhealthy Risk-Taking
Erectile dysfunction
Healthy risk taking
Lack Of Ambition And Drive
Sound choices
Impulsive Sensation-Seeking
Realistic expectations
Compulsive Activities
Social anxiety disorder

It has been stated that when we tinker with dopamine levels in an unhealthy way like through risky sex, addictive behavior, drugs, alcohol and junk food, prolactin rebounds higher than normal. That means even lower dopamine, and as we discussed before, high prolactin means high insulin and blood glucose! That is a recipe for fat gain! Low dopamine and high prolactin can really make your world look grim. 
What’s more, if you’re trying to break a bad habit (hello almond butter) that you’re holding on to because of the dopamine bolus you are getting from it, trying to stop will not only drop your dopamine rushes, but it will also raise your prolactin, making it harder to hold on to “quitting.” The good news is that this is temporary. 
Here are some dopamine raising strategies that I am going to employ:
  • Regular massage (I am going to use this as my dopamine reward for going a full week of no nut butter)
  • Exercise – moderately (I am going to plan my training better. Instead of trying to go all out every day I am going to include two moderate days a week and one strictly yoga day – the rest will be high intensity).
  • Regular protein – this isn’t really a problem for me, but it is critical to generating neurotransmitters.
  • Trying L-Tyrosine – this free form amino acid is a precursor for dopamine production. 
II’ll let you know how this goes. 
If anyone has any tips or experience with this dopamine prolactin stuff, please drop in a comment for discussion!

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