Monday, March 7, 2011
Dopamine Deficiency (or, I'm Not Lazy After All!) and March Updates
I usually try to pick a theme for my posts, but I couldn't decide on just one today, so I figured I would do a quick little check-in post before my main post.
It's suddenly turned cold again here in Nashville (booooo, hisssss!), just when I thought it was safe to start leaving my potted kumquat trees and valencia orange tree on the porch. I have a grand total of four kumquats and one orange growing right now.
My seed trays are sitting in my big south-facing living room window and are full of sprouting seeds waiting to be transplanted into the garden boxes soon. We still have to build said boxes, though! That's been on the back burners due to some bad weather. The rainstorms seem to have come early this year and we had a tornado that did some real damage the other week (definitely not the norm for March in Tennessee!)
Sleep Challenge Update:
Wow, I am so failing my sleep challenge! I swear, this is my biggest stumbling block. Sigh. I'm such a hard-wired night owl! At least this challenge has resulted in me getting to bed earlier many nights than I would have otherwise, but I'm in no way close to having reset my sleep rhythms. On the bright side, now that spring is kicking in, I seem to need a little less sleep and have been waking up a little earlier naturally. I'm just going to keep chipping away at my sleep habits (like one of those highways that are under perpetual roadwork;)
I recently started taking a dopamine supporting supplement formula and I can tell a difference in how I feel upon waking in the morning (i.e. less zombie-like and way more alert). In fact, a few days ago, I woke up with a perfectly clear, non-foggy mind and non-heavy head. It felt completely novel! It was like my brain was switched to "on" instead of stuck in the "conserve energy" setting. I am noticing more brain energy to start and finish tasks, which is a big issue for me.
I'm not a lazy person (there's a rather sarcastic voice in my mind saying "Sure, Erin- of course you're not!") But seriously, if I were truly lazy, it wouldn't bother me that I don't get things done (and it DOES bother me!)
It's more like my brain runs out of juice easily and can't stay on track. It's not true A.D.D., either. I used to have superb concentration, so I know I wasn't always like this. Again, it's more like a lack of mental stamina. The Primal diet has improved my brain function but my brain has the deck stacked against it due to my Hashimoto's related cognitive symptoms (Hashi's often causes brain inflammation and interferes with neurotransmitters), so I need a little extra help!!
Here is a list of symptoms of dopamine deficiency (with my emphasis added on symptoms I identify with):
1. Physically fatigued easily (Sometimes.)
2. Sleep too much and trouble getting out of bed (Yes on trouble getting out of bed!)
3. Reduced ability to feel pleasure
4. Flat, bored, apathetic (Yes on feeling flat)
5. Low drive, motivation & enthusiasm (Yes, and yes.)
7. Difficulty getting through a task even when interesting to me (HELL yes!)
8. Procrastinator/little urgency (Mmmm-hmmm!)
9. Shy/introvert (Yes.)
10. Mentally fatigued easily (Yes.)
11.Difficulty paying attention and concentrating (A little bit!)
12.Slow thinker and/or slow to learn new ideas
13.Put on weight easily
14.Crave uppers (e.g. caffeine/sugar/nicotine/diet soft drinks/cocaine/amphetamines)
15.Use these improve energy/motivation/mood
16.Prone to addictions (e.g. alcohol)/addictive personality
18.Reduced libido and/or impotence (sometimes on the libido)
19.Family history of depression/alcoholism/ADD
Factors which reduce dopamine levels (with my emphasis added on factors I have):
1. Chronic stress
2. Inadequate sleep (Like, DUH!)
3. Hypothyroidism (Bingo! Hashimoto's!)
4. Lead, arsenic and cadmium exposure
5. Under-methylation (Possibly- I suspect my dad's family under-methylates their B12. They have a strong history of Alzheimer's and dementia.)
6. Tyrosine (precursor) deficiency
7. Magnesium, iron, zinc & vitamins B3/B6/C/D deficiency
8. Excess copper levels (I have melasma and used to be vegetarian, so copper might be a factor.)
9. Genetic dopamine receptor abnormalities
10.Chronic opioid, alcohol & marijuana use
11.Adrenal insufficiency (Definitely!!)
15.Estrogen deficiency (Yes.)
16.Human growth hormone deficiency
I'm encouraged that I'm seeing some results after about a week and a half on the formula. My moods are less flat, my brain seems more alert and I've been less distractible. I'm getting better at following though on tasks. All big deals for me.
Low thyroid often causes low dopamine, which then causes further low thyroid function. Vicious cycle, there! So, this is probably another piece of the healing puzzle for me, which I'm thankful for. Maybe this will be a puzzle piece that some of you are looking for, too.