In this blog, we will delve into the role that ‘Dopamine’ plays in the ADHD brain. In order to do this, we have to first start by looking at what dopamine is. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which is implicated in the body’s process of sending chemical messages, as well as being involved with the pleasure and reward systems of the brain. 

While the roles played by dopamine are vast, the following are some of the most important mental processes that need dopamine to occur:

  1. Learning and attention
  2. Emotion regulation
  3. Motivation and energy

We live in societies whereby it is unacceptable to lash out, act impulsively, not pay attention in meetings, etc. These may prove to even be dangerous, as well as unacceptable. Essentially, these can all be related to dopamine levels in an individual’s brain.

How do dopamine and ADHD meet?

ADHD is often described as a neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning that the development of the brain is affected. While there are theories that dopamine is responsible for the issues with growth of the ADHD brain, there is not enough evidence of this. There are also other things that come into play with theories as to how or why ADHD develops in the first place. That being said, whether part of the “cause’ or a ‘symptom’ of the disorder; dopamine is still very important when it comes to ADHD.

The three processes mentioned above are highly impacted in ADHD. Hence, educating oneself on the role dopamine plays, can lead to better management of ADHD. As with anything else, the more awareness one has both general and more importantly of oneself, the more they would be able to navigate issues as they arise.

If you have ADHD, limiting instant gratification and dopamine rushes can be vital. It is best to avoid excessive cellphone use, drugs and other harmful ways to produce dopamine. It is ideal to aim for dopamine increase in more natural and sustainable ways.

Some tips on increasing dopamine levels in a healthy way:

Exercise is probably one of the best ways to produce dopamine. If not used in excess, it can be one of the healthiest ways since exercise does not only help you feel good after the workout but will ensure that the effects stay longer. This is due to dopamine as well as other hormones produced during exercise. Tyrosine-rich foods such as bananas and avocados can also help boost dopamine production as well.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Jessica Saliba Thorne is a Gestalt psychotherapist. She has experience within the mental health field and sees adults with mental health difficulties, relationship issues and trauma at Willingness.


Duggal, N. (2023, December 15). Dopamine and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Healthline. 

Watson, S. (2021, July 20). Dopamine: The pathway to pleasure. Harvard Health.