Dopamine Vs Serotonin, Difference, Function, Effect On Health

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What Is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a chemical that releases in the brain, which releases when you feel happy, and satisfied, and when you receive a reward.

This happy and satisfied feeling occurs when you eat fav dish, have sex, smoke, have excitement before going on an adventure trip, etc.

It is used to treat low BP, low heart rate, and cardiac arrest, especially given in newborn infants, through intravenous drip instead of injection (1).

Satisfying yourself by doing the same thing over and over again like smoking and releasing dopamine becomes a bad habit.

However, low dopamine release can also affect your health, which can be triggered by many health issues, like diseases, depression, etc.

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, it’s mostly found in the digestive system, but also in blood platelets, and all over the central nervous system (2).

It plays a vital role in the human body, as dopamine plays, which includes (3).

  • regulating mood
  • memory
  • behavior
  • energy balance
  • food intake
  • gastrointestinal hormones
  • cardiovascular
  • endocrine function

Serotonin begins with the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is required for normal growth for infants, maintaining body protein, muscle, and enzymes.

Tryptophan is found in chocolate, oats, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, etc, and its deficiency leads to lower serotonin levels.

Which can affect your mood, and lead to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders (4).

There is some therapy that is capable to maintain serum serotonin levels at an ideal b/w of 101 to 283 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).

What Is Neurotransmitter?

We have seen so far that both dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters, but what are these actually neurotransmitters?

Our brain is made up of unique types of cells called neurons or nerve cells, which count around 100 billion.

The nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells through electrochemical signals, which are sometimes called chemical messengers.

And there is a small gap b/w the end of one neuron and the beginning of another neuron called a synapse.

It is also responsible for pleasure and reward feelings, which is why is also known as the pleasure neurotransmitter.

Difference Between Dopamine and Serotonin

It is primarily defined as a satisfying and pleasurable feeling.It is primarily considered a natural mood stabilizer.
Dopamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter.Serotonin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, unlike dopamine, it does not have a stimulatory effect on the brain.
It is released when our brain feels pleasure, achievement, celebration, falling in love, excitement, surprise, etcIt helps regulate appetite, and sleep cycle inhibits violence, and suppresses pain
Effective in the hypothalamus, substantial nigra, and midbrain section.Effective in the raphe nucleus and central section of the brain.
Its deficiency is associated with Parkinson’s diseaseIts deficiency linked with anxiety and depression
A low level of dopamine leads to memory loss, low sex drive, motivation, poor digestion, etcA low level of serotonin leads to high sensitivity to pain and more anger than usual
Releasing dopamine by doing the same thing again and again, can become a bad habit.High serotonin levels lead to diarrhea, seizures, and fever, and also affect bone health which can lead to osteoporosis.

Serotonin and Dopamine Role In Decision Making

Both dopamine and serotonin interact with other neuromodulators to influence the choice (5) (6).

A research team found that putamen (a part of the brain) where dopamine and serotonin were found to trigger the action that indicated the patient’s decision.

During research where patients play a computer game developed by Dr. Dan Bang and Dr. Steve Fleming, were asked players to make simple perceptual decisions.

After the game is finished, the result is that it allows for precise control of the different factors that affect patients’ decisions.

Multiple evidence showed that genotypic influences (a set of genes that it carries) on serotonin activity can also influence the decision-making functions in both healthy and clinical participants.

Ken Kishida says that dopamine and serotonin may contribute to cognition, like “how we perceive the world and how we then go on to make decisions,” (8).

Serotonin and Dopamine Role In Depression


It is produced from the amino acid tyrosine and phenylalanine, which are obtained from protein-rich foods (9).

Dopamine plays a vital role in motivation and feel-good energy, and a low level of dopamine will cause:

  • Low motivation
  • Decrease interest in things
  • Low self-esteem and confidence

A study has shown that depression and Parkinson’s disease suggest a deficiency of dopamine in depression (10).

If a person suffers from depression, some external factors such as stress, and pain, easily affect the dysfunction within the dopamine system.


Low levels of serotonin in the brain are associated with depressive disorder and treatment for depression aim to increase these level (11)

The most recommended medication called SSRI which acts by blocking serotonin reuptake by the transmitting neurons (12) (13).

Serotonin is involved in a wide range of brain functions, so the side effect remains significant that may lead to a serotonin syndrome condition.

This syndrome is generally caused by the combination of drugs used to raise serotonin levels, this condition can become fatal if you stop these drugs.

Dopamine and serotonin Role In Sleep

The research found 4 dopamine receptors, and mutants for the type 1 dopamine receptor, DopR, have increased sleep.

A fruit flies study found that dopamine plays a vital role in memory, feeding, motivation, and sleep-wake regulation.

A mice study results showed enhanced dopamine shown increased wakefulness (14).

Whereas patients with Parkinson’s disease (who suffer from low dopamine) face excessive daytime sleepiness (15) (16).

Another study suggests that sleep deprivation reduces the availability of certain types of dopamine receptors.

Due to fewer receptors, the dopamine has nothing to attach to, as a result, staying awake becomes difficult.


Sleep is the best way to relax your body it is believed that an average adult should sleep for 7 to 8 hours so that he is charged for the next day.

Studies suggested that serotonin is essential to obtain and maintain behavioral sleep’s permissive role in sleep.

High serotonin is associated with wakefulness, however, a collection of serotonin in the area over time may put you to sleep (17).

Serotonin building up during the day may be important for our sleep drive and our circadian rhythm or body clock (18).

Studies have also shown that increasing serotonin by using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) reduces rapid eye movement (19).

There are many natural ways to boost your serotonin level including exercises, light therapy, mood induction, add nutrients to your diet.


Dopamine is released when our brain feels pleasure, achievement, celebration, falling in love, excitement, surprise, etc.

Serotonin can affect your mood, and low serotonin levels lead to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.


Hello, I'm Sahil bisht, I am a Mechanical engineer, As well as, aspiring blogger with an obsession for health. This blog delicate to people who want to learn in health.

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