What is Dopamine Fasting & Can it Help Your Brain Calm Down?

By Krista


Last Updated: February 4, 2022

In today’s world, pleasure is easy to obtain.

We even get a little reward boost by simply scrolling through the apps on our phones. In fact, this is kind of what these apps are designed to do. Millions of dollars in testing has gone into getting you addicted to using certain apps.

While this is always a good thing to be aware of, maybe you’re debating doing a dopamine detox. Yet, you aren’t sure about it… Is it a fad? Or does it actually work? 

In this article, we’re diving headfirst into what exactly dopamine fasting is, how to do it, and if it actually works. What should you know?


What is a Dopamine Detox or Dopamine Fasting?

The dopamine detox was created by Dr Cameron Sepah. Sepah began using this method to help reduce stimuli dependence he noticed in his clients. And surprisingly, this method was derived from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques for addictions.

So, what are dopamine detox rules? How does it work? Basically, it involves abstaining from things that involve pleasure for a set period of time. 

Common behaviors that are abstained from during dopamine fasting include:

  • Gaming and excessive internet usage
  • Phone apps
  • Shopping and gambling
  • Masturbation and pornography
  • Emotional eating
  • Thrill-seeking activities
  • Recreational drugs and alcohol

The idea is to avoid “quick hits” of dopamine. Dopamine is the hormone linked to pleasure and reward. In turn, you become more in-tune with what is distracting you from living your best life and achieving your goals, which is why dopamine detoxes became so popular amongst individuals in Silicon Valley.

This type of fast also helps you break addictions, such as those relating to phone applications or media. As a result, you find a more balanced life and derive meaning from things that fulfill you and offer a more healthy outlet.

At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that none of this is medical advice. If you’re struggling with a serious addiction, seek out help and discuss your options with your physician.

Related Article: Do We Cause Our Emotions? An Interesting Connection Between Our Organs & How We Feel


So… Does a Dopamine Detox Work?

Many people have claimed it’s worked for them.

For example, many individuals boast that dopamine fasts have helped them crack their social media addiction.

In other ways, it can also be a great introduction to performing a full digital detox, which can have various mental health benefits.

Yet… Are there any dopamine detox side effects you should be aware of? Generally, the literature seems to claim that the only side effects you might experience are linked to similar dopamine fasting benefits, such as feeling more balanced and at peace. 

However, again, this may depend on your mental and physical health, which is why we strongly recommend you talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any mental or physical symptoms. They can help you get to the bottom of it and get back on track with your overall health.


Is Dopamine Fasting Backed By Science?

The research is seriously mixed!

Research shows that there is more to dopamine than the simple reward pathway it’s often referenced as being part of. Yet, at the same time, experts seem to agree that the benefits are real, and if carried out properly, it can help break mild to moderate addictions. 

It’s important to note that in reality, you aren’t actually “fasting” from dopamine when doing a dopamine detox. In many ways, it’s more about just calming super receptors down and changing certain neural pathways for more healthy ones.


How Do You Do Dopamine Fasting?

Maybe you’ve decided you want to try a dopamine detox either way and see if it works for you. So, how can you do that?

Step 1: Determine the behavior you want to stop.

This is usually really easy to do! Often, this behavior is something that you know you shouldn’t do but you do it anyway. It may prevent you from enjoying time with your loved ones or performing at your best. You may also have tried to quit this behavior before, without success.

Step 2: Start slow.

Going full throttle into a dopamine detox might drive you a bit crazy… Instead, try going without the behavior for an hour, an afternoon, or a day to start. Then, gradually increase this. Try going without for a weekend, then a week, and so on.

Step 3: Make a plan.

If it’s a behavior you aren’t giving up entirely, you’ll maybe want to consider planning time to allocate toward it. This can ensure you don’t fall back into your previous behaviors, which counterbalance the effects of your dopamine detox.

Related Article: 5 Easy, Healthy Habits You Can Start Right Now


Try It Out: Does Dopamine Fasting Work for You?

While it might be trumped up to just being “one of those fads,” some individuals find serious benefits from doing dopamine fasting.

If you’re unsure, give it a try. Why not find out if it works for you or not? Everyone is different! 

As Euripides is thought to have said, “Short is the joy that guilty pleasure brings.”

Choose your pleasures wisely. Make meaningful choices. Doing so is what leads to a fulfilling, happy, and long life.

And remember, you always have a choice. 

Read Next: 4 Major Reasons to Take Guilt Out of Pleasure

Photo by Kasuma from Pexels


2 comments on “What is Dopamine Fasting & Can it Help Your Brain Calm Down?”

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