ADHD, Dopamine and Getting Things Done!

dopamineAt school I was never a of fan chemistry.  However, now I find the chemistry in our brains fascinating. Dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphin are all chemicals that keep us safe and happy.  Dopamine is particularly interesting as the ADHD brain has less dopamine than the average brain.  This results in ADD challenges, such as focus and concentration.

There are ways to increase dopamine, both with ADHD meds, and natural ways such as taking omega 3, exercising and meditation. You can also increase dopamine by getting things done!

When you set yourself a goal and achieve it, you get a shot of dopamine and feel good.  Because we like the good feeling we naturally want to achieve something else.  Human brains don’t distinguish between big goals and small goals.  It just rewards you for accomplishing something you set out to do. So you can use this to your advantage and set a small achievable goal every day.

Unfortunately, most ADDers are hard on themselves and only give themselves permission to feel good after achieving something BIG.  For example, studying for a degree, you could wait 4 years until the degree is completely finished to feel good. Or you could set mini goals for yourself every day of the journey.  Remember, big achievements come from many small ones.  Don’t minimize the small ones as they are vital to success.

The other trick to getting more dopamine in your daily life is to set your mini goals at the right difficultly level.  If they are too easy, you won’t get a satisfied feeling.  If they are too hard you will give up trying. Be careful if you recognize yourself in this because rather than helping you to succeed, it demotivates you and you get less done.

Your challenge this week is to…

1) Break a goal into small achievable parts

2) Achieve a mini goal every day

3) Notice and enjoy the sense of satisfaction and your dopamine shot!

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  1. Michael says:

    Thanks for this. It’s interesting that small things can give dopamine, I’m going to test this out this week. I love dopamine! But I struggle to find healthy ways of increasing it.


  2. brian says:

    Very interesting read. I find on the chemistry level, serotonin levels effect sleep. Taking an ssri can help with the ruminations at night. Dopamine and exercise go hand in hand, but for some its not enough, so supplementation with abilify can do wonders, another is vyvanse (never been a fan of adderall as a lot of people crash or need up-dosing frequently. ..not healthy . Disclaimer- this is not professional advice. Ask your doctor what may be best for you.

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