The building block sequence for is: Phenylalanine << Tyrosine << L-Dopa << Dopamine. It’s produced in only a few, very specific regions: Substantia Nigra and the Ventral Tegmental Area. Although, on average does this take minutes, hours, days, weeks? And does releasing it between synapses or something else for normal activity affect the time?

Ultimately, I am trying to find a graph of the average anergia level after sex. Or similarly, dopamine levels after orgasm. Most of the research I have come across is about disorders or is too general. Also, there are informal articles and graphs of dopamine levels, but they very widely and are not sourced.

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    $\begingroup$ dupe from same user. biology.stackexchange.com/questions/51445/… You know you can edit previous questions right? You should look at the comments, expand your answer and ask questions if you don't know what to do. $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ That's the whole point of SE way of doing things. You get new information and you expand the same question not create another one a bit more in detail. Or would you like someone to just answer vaguely to the other question and more in detail to this one? You should improve the previous questions instead of re-writing the same question it just gets confusing otherwise not to say completely redundant. $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ 200 milliseconds as the half life of dopamine provides no meaningful (to me at least) connection to the question at hand. The Study of dopamine turnover uses a very obfuscated argot to laymen. Is there significance to this study in relation to the question? As for the question itself, is it too complicated to answer to a non-chemist? $\endgroup$
    – adamaero
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ Nice that you put everything together, that was my only point. $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ I transformed the chat into an answer... $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 11:04

1 Answer 1


I can see a couple of problems in the question:

First problem, you assume that anergia (not sure that's how you call being tired) after sex is caused by dopamine depletion, I'm not sure this is the case or that lack of dopamine has been related to anergia at all. We know from Parkinson patients that Dopamine is related with action initiation (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v466/n7305/abs/nature09263.html) not necessarily with lack of energy or motivation.

Second problem, depletion (the term you originally used) means no more dopamine is system, either because you block it somehow (antagonist), you block its receptors (receptor antagonist) or you block one of the precusors involved in synthesizing it eventually depleting your reserves. "Significant drop" needs to be quantified.

Dopamine (DA) synthesis is an ongoing process, and DA is an essential neurotransmitter / neuromodulator in the brain just like Serotonin (more on that later). This means that it probably has different roles. One phasic referring to its neurotransmitter properties and one tonic referring to its global levels in the brain and how it modulates ongoing synaptic activity.

Normal activity does not deplete DA, and yes, no matter how crazy you think you are, sex is considered normal activity. You can obviously have variations of basal levels of DA depending on your activity but they are way removed from the depletion criteria.

Furthermore, the brain is very parsimonious in its synthesis efforts, it has specialized molecules that recover neurotransmitters that where unused from the synaptic cleft, these molecules are appropriately called reuptakers.

Now to attempt to answer your question considering the problems:

I don't know about DA but I do have some experience with serotonin depletion. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is synthesized from tryptophan that you cannot produce endogenously. Lucky for us that tryptophan is in almost every food we eat which means that there is no lack of it.

You can, in experimental conditions, ask people to drink a glass of a very disgusting liquid that will bind to your tryptophan preventing it from being used in new 5-HT synthesis. It takes approximately 4-6 hours for it to work (e.g. http://web.stanford.edu/~knutson/ans/bjork99.pdf methods section), which means that in 5 hours you used up all your reserves of 5-HT. This meansthat your "refilling" process would be about the same time in order to get to pre-depletion levels (you might be able to be in a functional regime before that if you ignore the reserves part).

So from this 5-HT example I would say that unless something is very different in the case of DA to recover from depletion it would have to be in the hours time frame.

Another way of looking at it can be looking at the half-life of the molecule which gives you an idea of how much time it lives. This can be used to calculate how much production there has to be to maintain a level of X. The turnover is the amount of time that it takes to, well, turn over, so replace DA in the system that should be in the same order of magnitude as coming back from a depletion experiment.

  • $\begingroup$ I may have been trying to be pretentious before by having "depletion." I was about to put this question on Cog Psych SE. (It should not be asked on Cog Psych SE, correct?) $\endgroup$
    – adamaero
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't in its current form, but maybe people there can have some insight, you are not convinced with my answer? $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ Assuming sex reduces tonic levels of dopamine, you want to know how long it takes to go back up? I would say, as stated in the answer, that if it would take hours to go to basal levels after depletion it could take minutes to recover from a small dip because of sex. or do you have a specific question in mind? $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 12:01

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