Dopamine fasting: what it is, what it is for and how it affects us

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced in our brain that influences various functions such as behavior, motivation, motor activity, learning and, of course, the reward, which is the pleasure we feel when we accomplish something. playing a very important role in addictions.

Dopamine fasting is a popular practice among technology companies in Silicon Valley and involves giving up all kinds of electronic devices, such as cell phones and internet browsing, in an effort to reduce dopamine increases in the body. the brain it generates.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what the controversial dopamine fasting is., as well as its possible advantages and disadvantages.

    Influence of dopamine on any type of addiction

    People who practice dopamine fasting generally seek to break the addiction caused by certain behaviors, such as excessive use of cell phones and social media, as dopamine has been shown to play a critical role in this addiction, as well as rest of the outbuildings. , since all dependencies they cause an increase in the activity of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system.

    And is any type of substance that is actively addicting mechanisms in the brain similar to a natural reward (for example, sex or food), increase the release of this neurotransmitter, which is dopamine, in regions of the limbic systemThis is why the dopaminergic system is called, in part, the reward system of the brain.

    It is also known that dopamine has a great influence on the processing of information related to reward in the brain, dopamine mainly fulfills two functions: to help the learning process related to the reward and also to help to remember it twice. stimulus that is associated with this reward.

    However, when the brain has learned the most effective response to obtain a reward, it stops needing dopamine and, for this reason, it ceases to part ways in the face of such reward or the like, being the reason why stimuli and rewards that are already familiar to us leave us so interested and make us seek new experiences that motivate us and us. excite.

    This is perhaps the reason why we seek to be continually stimulated; This explains the increase in addiction to the Internet and social networks, where new news and publications are constantly appearing. For this reason, dopamine fasting could help decrease this constant increase in dopamine, thereby seeking to reset the brain and the reward system.

      What is dopamine fasting?

      There is a strong consensus that it was psychologist Cameron Sepah, professor at the University of California (San Francisco), who coined the term “fast dopamine,” which is known as the decision made by some people. give up, at least for a while, the use of all kinds of networks, services and also digital devices (eg, viewing web pages, e-mail and social media, using video game consoles, cell phone).

      Dopamine fasting has gained popularity around the world as it has been used extensively in Silicon Valley, California, where a large number of major tech companies are headquartered (eg Apple, Netflix). , Facebook, Google, HP, LinkedIn, Intel, Yahoo, Adobe. , Ebay, among others).

      Because its employees, being in large technology companies, they are constantly connected to different electronic devices to do their jobs, in addition to continually inventing new ways to grow and innovate in this sector.

      For this reason, when they have free time, such as days off or vacations, they have made dopamine fasting fashionable, dispensing with electronic devices and an internet connection on a day off. and may even manage to practice this fast for a few. days they are on vacation.

        What is the purpose of the dopamine fast?

        The main goal of dopamine fasting would be to decrease the levels of dopamine secreted in the brain by break the vicious circle that can become addictive to the use of electronic devices and the Internet connection, thus seeking to be more relaxed, focused on the present moment and thus more aware of their own environment.

        There is a more drastic way to practice this dopamine fast which is to give up all kinds of activities that could lead to an increase in dopamine, at least like exercising, eating appetizing foods, having sex, including kissing and the caresses. Probably a factor as to why they hurt so badly anything taken to extremes in the long term can be very harmful to health.

          Reasonable time to practice

          If you choose to practice dopamine fasting, your practice time will vary depending on each person’s personal situation; and with personal circumstances we refer to the level of addiction that has the handling of electronic devices and the Internet, the need to use them for professional reasons, the requirements to fully concentrate on a task of any kind, the motivation he owes the practice or any personal reason that led the person to make this decision.

          Fast dopamine it can be practiced from a few hours to a few days, although the risks of taking too long to do so will be explained later.

          Refraining from using these devices for a few hours could be helpful for people who are constantly checking their cell phones to reply to WhatsApp, send emails, view social media posts, read new news on Twitter, etc. . so that this mobile abuse may interfere with other more important tasks such as studying, working or socializing face to face, so it would be helpful to try not to look at this device during such activity. .

            Reviews of dopaminergic fasting

            There are researchers who claim that dopamine fasting is not a panacea, as it is currently sold in various media because there are no solid studies showing the benefits or changes in dopamine levels when dropping the highs and lows of this neurotransmitter for a while. , two or even four weeks, as some people came to exercise.

            Fasting on dopamine has also not been found to be more beneficial than trying to gradually reduce the use of electronic devices and surf the Internet to moderate use that does not adversely affect health and lifestyle. people.

            In the case of those who take drastic measures while fasting dopamine, such as giving up more natural behaviors, such as having a tasty snack or playing sports, they forgo many of life’s pleasures and activities that in the long run have shown great health and longevity benefits.

            Therefore, a dopamine fast may only be helpful if it is used regularly (for example, on a day off, when you are traveling with family for a short time, or on a day when you have to do an activity that requires a lot. concentration to avoid distractions).

            However, it is up to everyone, because in many cases, taking such a drastic measure can cause a lot of anxiety in the person practicing it and constantly distract them, thinking of using their cell phone in case they get a message. came. or call. In such cases a rebound effect is likely to occur, so that resuming the use of electronic devices may increase the number of hours of their use, so it would be contraindicated to practice it.

              Alternatives to dopamine fasting

              A healthier alternative to a long-term dopamine fast is likely to be an alternative healthier learn how to use these devices in a more organized way, without abusing it so that they do not boycott the present moment and without giving it up, so that they can be used at certain times from the day when it does not interfere with other more essential things in life like spending time with family, partner and friends.

              The reasonable use of electronic devices and social media should be measured in such a way that it does not spoil the possibility of being connected to the present moment or to the context around us, of being able to enjoy places like those that we can find around we.

              In the end, as in all areas, what is healthy is finding the right measure to get the most out of everything, without interfering with other areas that are equally or even more important.

              Bibliographical references

              • Corominas, M., Roncero, C. and Casas, M. (2015). The dopaminergic system in addictions. Quaderns Ment i Cervell, 10, p. 4-11.
              • Grinspoon, P. (February 26, 2020). Dopaminergic Fasting: Misunderstanding the science leads to inappropriate fashion. Harvard Health Blog.
              • Lanese, N. (November 19, 2019). Is There Really a Science Behind “Dopamine Fasting”? Living sciences.
              • Lorenzen, A. (November 2021). “Dopamine has little to do with happiness.” Ment and Cervell, 111, p. 66-68.

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