A new fad has emerged where “fasting” has taken on a new meaning. Dopamine fasting or dopamine detoxing is believed to be an antidote to the overstimulated environments in which we live. By taking a break from activities that trigger strong amounts of dopamine, we can better control behaviors or intrusive thoughts that are causing distress or negatively affecting our lives. Though dopamine detoxing is not scientifically researched, its benefits are believed to come from refraining from addictive behaviors.
California psychiatrist Dr. Cameron Sepah, the creator of the dopamine fast, developed this method based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). By becoming less dominated by unhealthy stimuli that accompany our technology-centric society, we can allow our brain to take breaks and reset from the addictive bombardment that accompanies modern living.
Finding pleasure in doing simpler and more natural activities will enable us to regain control over our mental health and better address intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that might be interfering with our mental health and happiness.
Dr. Sepah identifies six compulsive behaviors that are the target of the dopamine detox:
- emotional eating
- excessive internet usage and gaming
- gambling and shopping
- porn and masturbation
- thrill and novelty seeking
- recreational drug use
A dopamine detox usually lasts anywhere from an hour to several days. During this time, a person is to avoid any kind of arousal that would stimulate dopamine production, especially pleasure triggers. Ideally, by the end of the detox, a person will feel more centered, balanced, and less affected by the usual dopamine triggers.
In some situations, a dopamine detox will not be able to address serious mental health issues. This is when it is recommended that a mental health professional is engaged. Taking this step to speak with a mental health provider may be beneficial in learning about other treatment options available such as ketamine infusions.
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