Drugs that Increase Dopamine for Depression

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Dopamine is one of your body's main happy hormones. It is released in excess when you are in love, when you laugh, and after a long bout of exercise. For many who are depressed, hormones like dopamine and serotonin are low. There are a number of supplements and medications that can help to rebuild your dopamine supply. Here is a look at some options, both over the counter and prescription based:


This amino acid is the basic building block of the dopamine molecule. It can be found in the proteins of all animal meats as well as in the proteins from beans and soy. Vegetables like kale and cauliflower also have a good supply of it. If you have trouble fully digesting proteins, then this may be part of the problem with your low dopamine, and a tyrosine supplement can help to alleviate this.

Mucuna Pruriens

This ayurvedic treatment of crushed seeds has recently gone toe-to-toe with some parkinsons medications and held its own. It has been a traditional treatment for depression in India and other regions who use ayurvedic treatments for centuries. Like its modern day companion drug, levodopa, it has been shown to raise dopamine in the whole body, not just the brain.

This can mute some of the effects, but will still increase brain dopamine as well, which can definitely add to the treatment of depression. Work with a holistic doctor if you are interested in trying this natural treatment.


The Western medicine companion to Mucuna Pruriens, levodopa is designed to increase the body's dopamine levels. Currently, there is no way to administer it only to the brain, where the effects would probably be more targeted and less muted, but it does work now if combined with a drug called carbodopa, which is its pass through the blood/brain barrier. Like Mucuna Pruriens, it is not only used for depression, but also parkinsons and restless leg syndrome.


This antidepressant works differently than many of those on the market today. It keeps the body from breaking down and recycling its dopamine supply, allowing each molecule to last longer. Provided that you have adequate tyrosine coming in to build new molecules when needed, this can be a good way to manage depression.

It also combats cigarette cravings by stopping the drop in dopamine associated with the need for a smoke.

MAO Inhibitors

This class of molecules is not commonly used anymore because it has been known to interact with many other drugs in a bad way. It works similarly to buproprion, however, by keeping dopamine from breaking down and recycling itself. Though they were one of the first prescription antidepressants available, they have been mostly replaced with SSRI medications, with the exception of atypical depressions, where they still may be used.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Drugs that Increase Dopamine for Depression," in PsychologyDictionary.org, March 25, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/drugs-that-increase-dopamine-for-depression/ (accessed December 6, 2022).