If a person takes dopamine increasing medication for some illness, what effect will it have on his/her mental health considering that medication doesn't target just one area of the brain ?

In Parkinson's disease, dopamine is lacking in the brain area responsible for motor functions i.e. muscle movement hence creating spasms in muscles. Dopamine medication corrects this but it doesn't target just that area of the brain.

I'm curious what happens with all the dopamine roaming in other parts of the brain, and how it affects mental health?

EDIT: I've made some changes, I hope it's more understandable now.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you be more specific about which "dopamine-based" medication that you are talking about? Different medication classes are going to have different pharmacodynamics. $\endgroup$ May 12, 2014 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ I've added more detail in the question, also I've changed title and text a bit, I misunderstood the way medication works and what it contains. Thank you for asking, it led me to improve my question. :) $\endgroup$ May 12, 2014 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ Could this question also just be rephrased as "why is dopamine used to treat Parkinson's?" or are you more curious about the side-effects associated with this increased dopamine? $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Feb 24, 2015 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Seanny123 I understand the purpose of medication, to supply dopamine since there is not enough dopamine naturally. I'm more concerned how excess of dopamine affects the brain. I.e. when enough dopamine is added , what rest of it does to other areas of the brain. Since medication doesn't target area lacking dopamine, but whole brain. So it must be excessive in some areas. I hope I explained better. :) thanks for your question, I might need to rephrase it anyway. $\endgroup$ Feb 25, 2015 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ @JunJun an edit to reflect this would be helpful $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Feb 25, 2015 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


Not all medications administer dopamine in the same way.

For treating Parkinson's specifically, dopamine-boosting medications such as L-DOPA (which are notable for their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, which dopamine itself cannot do) are often administered with a DOPA decarboxylase inhibitor (DDCI) or with a benserazide to prevent peripheral synthesis of dopamine from L-DOPA. This prevents the negative side effects that may result from excess dopamine in the peripheral nervous system.

Other medications (such as stimulant medications, used to treat disorders such as ADHD) convert tyrosine hydroxylase into L-Dopa, which in turn becomes dopamine. Long-term amphetamine use has shown to have positive effects on the brain when administered in therapeutic doses. By contrast, however, certain psychotoxic amphetamines such as methamphetamine have shown to cause long-term brain damage.

When taken in higher doses, these medications can negatively effect heart rate, sleep patterns, appetite, mood, anxiety, aggression levels, and (in cases of abuse and overuse) can lead to psychosis or paranoia. They can also lead to trouble with urination and muscle coordination.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for taking time to thoroughly answer my question. I was wondering, if these side effects get reverted once medication is lowered to a normal dose? i.e. is damage permanent if one has already become paranoid and psychotic due to higher dose of medication? Do chemicals get balanced out , back to as they were? $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2015 at 11:30
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    $\begingroup$ The discovery that the neural underpinnings of schizophrenia is due to a high level of dopamine came when Parkinson's patients who had low levels of dopamine were administered medicines that raised the levels started to show signs of psychosis. $\endgroup$
    – Vakalate
    Aug 9, 2015 at 14:44

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