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Dopamine Detox Is Trending: Here Are the Signs That You May Need to Take One

Anything that gives us pleasure triggers the release of dopamine. Why would you need detox from it?

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Megha Narayan (name changed for privacy) is a 28-year-old content creator on social media. She recently went on a three-day holiday in the hills away from her phone. She was on a self-declared dopamine detox.

Not only did she not post, she also did not click a single picture, nor did she shoot a reel while she was there. Did it help her?

Definitely, she says, and cites better mental clarity as one of the benefits. She plans to go for a longer duration the next time. Dopamine detox is trending. Do you need it? 

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Truth be said, we all need it (even if our work is not online 24/7)!

But to decide, let’s do this test. If you find yourself experiencing even two of the behaviors below mentioned, continue reading to know how you can go about it:

  • Poor sleep

  • High anxiety levels

  • Inability to sit still

  • Overeating to counter boredom (usually junk food)

  • Excessive internet usage and gaming

  • Constantly looking for a screen to interact with

  • Dependence on stimuli like phone alerts, texts, and social media notifications

What Is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a neuro-chemical that works as a chemical messenger, and impacts many behavioral and physical functions like our mood, learning, attention, and even our sleep.

It also makes us happy and is the ‘feel good’ chemical – anything that gives us pleasure triggers the release of dopamine. Its deficiency and excess both spell trouble.

Wondering why the excess is trouble? 

Well, dopamine can be distracting, it prompts (excessive) repetition of feel-good behaviors – making us scroll mindlessly on social media or binge-watch shows on OTT, night after night. 

This can be detrimental to our health – sleepless nights, hormonal imbalance, emotional disturbances, blinding envy– and can also be a hindrance in us achieving our goals.

Anything that gives us pleasure triggers the release of dopamine. Why would you need detox from it?

Excessive dopamine spells trouble.

(Photo: iStock)

Why Do the Detox?

Ideally, the dopamine rush should be induced with natural things like dancing, cooking, shopping, or listening to music. But when we depend on instant hits too often via social media, alcohol, junk food, etc, the brain gets muddled up and screams for a recalibration.

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Now a true or complete “dopamine detox” is impossible because the brain continues to produce dopamine all the time, but a recalibration – making your pleasure centers more balanced – can definitely be achieved with a conscious detox, de-addiction, and abstinence process.

The Bright Side of the Detox

A fast or unplugging for a few days won’t rewire the mind or deliver unmatched happiness or unexpected professional success.

But it might help you recognise the triggers that are messing you up. It can:

  • Help lessen social media dependency

  • Improve well-being

  • Help regulate your dopamine response

  • Makes you feel calmer & less anxious

  • Clears the mind & helps it be more focused

Anything that gives us pleasure triggers the release of dopamine. Why would you need detox from it?

Locking gadgets away for a detox!

(Photo: iStock)

What is a Dopamine Detox?

During a dopamine detox, one needs to avoid dopamine triggers for a set period of time, which could vary from an hour to several days to a few weeks. 

This involves three steps:

Step 1- To identify behaviors that you turn to too frequently for a quick boost (eg, social media, gaming, watching TV).

Step 2:  Take a break from them for some time, ideally spend a period of abstinence, or unplugging from the world.

Step 3: To stop hankering after the instant hits of dopamine, replace them with healthier activities that produce dopamine.

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How to Actually Detox?

The aim should be to detach from the addictive stimuli like social media, sugar, shopping, junk food and the likes, and replacing these with less impulsive habits and lifestyle choices consciously. 
Anything that gives us pleasure triggers the release of dopamine. Why would you need detox from it?

Taking a break from your phone to engage in other activities can be beneficial.

(Photo: iStock)

Following are some of the things that might help: 

  • Take a break from social media, gaming, and watching TV – it's okay to be bored for a while!

  • Experience new things – sign up for a new kind of dance or learn a musical instrument or maybe pottery.

  • Step-up exercise – it speeds up the process by which the brain's dopamine receptors return to their normal state. 

  • Reduce sugar intake drastically.

  • Cut off processed foods and alcohol. 

  • Focus on iron folate and vitamin B 6 rich foods.

  • Eat more protein every day. 

  • Get your dose of direct sunlight every morning without fail.

  • Pencil in at least an hour in nature every day.


By the end of the detox, you will feel more centered, balanced, and less affected by the usual dopamine triggers, and hopefully work out a better relationship with things that give you happiness.

More tangible benefits may follow in the form of stress relief, lower blood pressure, improved sleep, and better health.

The detox is not a quick fix, rather should become a part of a regular way of living.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Addiction   Detox   Social Media Addiction 

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