Originated in Silicon Valley, dopamine fasting seeks, in the face of a hectic pace of life full of stimuli, reduce impulsive behaviors. This technique, popularized thanks to a Linkedin post by Dr. Cameron Sepah who received more than 100,000 queries, has the function, in practice, of helping patients to manage problematic behaviors or behaviors by controlling stimuli, whether food, social media, or even sexual behavior.
To name his idea, Sepah drew on Silicon Valley’s obsession with dieting and fasting. In addition, it considers that these problem behaviors are related to eating and excessive consumption of technology -Americans spend more than eleven hours a day in the media.
Commonly referred to as one of the happiness hormones, dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system that regulates functions such as memory, sleep, cognition, behavior or mood, among others, and acts as a chemical messenger.
“Those who practice it abstain from daily pleasures”, Indicates Santiago Campillo, journalist and science communicator,“ with the idea of ’recover‘the ability to feel, once again, well-being, which robbed them of an excess of dopamine ”.
TikTok, one of the most addictive applications. Reuters photo
A study by the Dscout platform revealed that We touch our cell phones about 2,600 times a day. Likewise, we are constantly subjected to other stimuli, such as food or advertisements that we observe daily, that produce a world of “Immediate experiences and pleasure”, as mentioned by Campillo in Engadget.
When the brain gets used to a high daily dose of dopamine, this can no longer elicit the same reward response, which causes tolerance, something that, for Campillo, is a typical phenomenon of the addictions.
It is then when, feeling stressed, distracted, uncreative or lazy and, with the aim of reducing pleasure to the maximum to feel motivation and pleasure again, they carry out the dopamine fast.
This “fast” implies the reduction of the use of mobile devices, social networks or video games, in addition to performing simple activities such as walking, reading or listening to music, something that, although they involve a slight effort, do not produce immediate pleasure and, Thus, can prevent dopamine spikes, something harmful to health.
Cameron Sepah’s Linkedin post. Linkedin Photo
Defined as a technique based on control addictive behaviors, restricting them to specific periods of time, for Campillo, one of the objectives of the dopamine fast is in “avoid acts that give us quick and immediate satisfaction “, such as quirks or mobile devices.
In short, small everyday gestures that seek quick well-being. Another of the key points of the dopamine fast is the urgency to satisfy the need for reward, called urge surfing.
How often should you do a dopamine fast?
Depending on the person’s capacity for self-control and tolerance, for Dr. Cameron Sepah, psychologist, professor, one of the main defenders of this technique and creator of some indications to carry it out, it can be repeated between one and four hours, once every weekend, one weekend every four months, or one week a year.
But, for people already used to it, recommends practicing it between 5 and 30 minutes, between one and three times a day.
But does dopamine fasting work?
Netflix, another of the applications that rely on constant novelty. AFP
Currently, according to Santiago Campillo, there is no scientific evidence that Dopamine fasting has some effect on humans.
In contrast, a study published in 2020 showed that dopamine fasting performed on Facebook for a week helped diverse students regain 13.3 hours of their time and reduced depressive symptoms by 17%, “which allowed them to adopt healthier behaviors”, According to Cameron Sepah himself.
What is known are the two traits on which dopamine fasting is based, classical conditioning and the theory of addictions. “In the first”, Campillo adds, “a stimulus provokes a response that is learned and reinforced.” These stimuli, such as receiving a message from the person who attracts us, cause pleasure, so we produce dopamine.
Stimulus and response: the reaction to dopamine. Linkedin Photo
With regard to the theory of addictions, pleasure begins to decrease with increasing number of stimuli, so it is necessary to produce more dopamine to receive a stimulus that elicit a similar sense of reward. This is called “tolerance” and, along with abstinence, they are two of the three components of an addiction.
To protect the body and, as a consequence of the inhibition of dopamine receptors, tolerance appears. Also, apart from produce a sensation of pleasure, dopamine is involved in multiple cognitive and physiological functions.
As Sepah puts it, “there were also many misunderstandings due to misinterpretation by the media.” Therefore, in his article The Definitive Guide to Dopamine Fasting 2.0 – The Hot Silicon Valley Trend, sets out several guidelines on what dopamine fasting is not.
Source: La Vanguardia