Serotonin vs. Dopamine

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Difference between Serotonin and Dopamine

Serotonin and dopamine are two chemical compounds that are essential to proper brain functioning. They belong to the category of biogenic amines, a group that also includes noradrenaline, acetylcholine, and histamine. These compounds are comprised of amino acids such as tyrosine, tryptophan, and choline, and are of particular interest to the scientific community, since they have an important relationship to the function of various psychoactive and addictive drugs.


Where They Are Found

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter hormone that is occurs naturally in the brain of humans, and it has also been identified in certain animals' digestive tracts. The compound is also found in several different varieties of vegetables and fruits.

Dopamine for its part is a neurotransmitter compound that is also found in the brains of humans, as well as several animals.


Serotonin serves a very important role in the transmission of various nerve impulses throughout the body. The compound also has vasoconstrictor properties; meaning to say that is has the ability to narrow the blood vessels. But what is perhaps its most significant property is its ability to affect the mood and temper, and it has also been known to have an effect on depression. In addition, serotonin also has a significant role to play in regulating human appetite, aggression, and libido

Dopamine has many of its own functions as well, with the more significant ones having to do with its role in the proper functioning of the central nervous system. Another important role of dopamine relates to the motivation and reward system of the human brain.

Clinical Usage

Since serotonin is so essential to role of mood regulation, it is a fairly common ingredient in drugs of the antidepressant variety. In fact, it is a key ingredient in a category of drugs known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which essentially break down neurotransmitters and allow them to ease certain symptoms of depression. It must be said however that many of these medications can cause severe side effects, and they have also been known to react unfavorably with other medications.

Dopamine typically cannot be administered to humans in its natural form, since they are unable to cross the barrier between the blood and the brain. As an alternative, doctors will often treat patients with precursors that cause the brain to synthesize the compound by itself. That being said, dopamine is sometimes administered directly into the bloodstream, in order to treat conditions related to blood pressure and kidney function.



  • Occurs naturally in the human brain and the digestive tract of certain animals
  • Can also be found in vegetables, mushrooms and fruits
  • Classified as a neurotransmitter with vasoconstrictor properties
  • Can help regulate moods and ease depression
  • Drugs that contain serotonin may react unfavorably with other drugs and cause serious side effects


  • Produced by the brains of humans and animals
  • Belongs in the category of neurotransmitter
  • Essential to proper nervous system function
  • Cannot be given directly to humans
  • High levels can be toxic

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