Dopamine- The Feel Good Drug

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The simple act of balancing a golf ball on a obstacle course can provide focus for the diver as well as give the sense of accomplishment, both important for positive dopamine releases.

When an addict scores his drug, its dopamine that is released and provides a moment of gratification. Its released when a shopping addict hits the “buy” button on an internet sales site. Its the drug our ancestors felt when they found a berry patch or shot game while on the hunt.

Dopamine seems to be the one neurotransmitter that everyone has heard about. Its the feel good drug in your brain and something we strive to release in a positive way  in our BREATHE sessions. (There are negative releases as well)

In a brain that is immersed in chemicals, Dopamine is one of the chemical signals that pass information from one neuron to the next in the spaces between them. When it is released from the first neuron, it floats through the synapse,  into the space between the two neurons, and it bounces against receptors for it on the other side that then send a signal the receiving neuron. It sounds simple as a couple of neurons working together, but when you scale it up to the vast networks of pathways, super highways, and side streets in your brain, it quickly becomes complex.

In cases of PTSD, dopamine can increase hyper-vigilance or paranoia. So instead we work towards skill/reward release of dopamine. By focusing the brain on salience activities, we push for a dopamine release when the diver “gets it” or accomplishes a task. While many life require you to pay attention to get by,  salience is more than attention, it’s a signal to the brain that something that needs to be paid attention to, something that stands out. When we provide a task such as balancing a golf ball on the back side of a spoon, fanning a marble through an obstacle course, or placing building blocks in a matching order while underwater, we are giving the diver something positive to focus on, and then when the task is completed or the “get it”, we get the dopamine release we are looking for.

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