I understand that OCD is something that causes sufferers to perform irrational behavour consciously, I also understand that the motivation comes from performing the irrational behaviour/behaviours to release the anxiety experienced.

Although, what causes sufferers to pursue specific goals whether it be career choice, physical achievement, etc. ? According to my (hopefully trustworthy) sources the neurotransmitter "dopamine" plays a huge part in motivation, setting the bar high and making people do whatever it takes to reach that goal of "happiness" or "achievement".

I believe OCD is somewhat related with "serotonin", but all I know is that there is an allele gene Alpha 2 which causes some sort of susceptibility to a few different disorders, OCD being one of them. Does OCD motivation have any correlation with the neurotransmitter "dopamine"? Thanks in advance!

  • $\begingroup$ I wonder at the soundness of your theory that OCD patients tend towards high achievement. OCD appears across the socioeconomic spectrum, in scenarios from hoarding to germophobia. There is also a difference between anxiety in high achievers and OCD. Many researchers believe OCD decreases the chance of high achievement. here The National Institutes of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov/) has a lot about this. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 8:33
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, I should have been more clear. I was associating high achievement with extensive work towards a specific goal in which they tend to reach. For example, hoarders achieve maximum retainment of their specified object/objects of interest, or what they'd like to believe is maximum, in order to satisfy their neurological and emotional needs. High achievement doesn't always necessarily have to be accepted, and can sometimes be frowned upon, or infamous. I know very little on this subject, and I appreciate your provided link, I'll check it out straight away! Thank you @anongoodnurse $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 8:43

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Your information is basically sound. Serotonin and dopamine are both neurotransmittors that are connected, in different ways, with positive feelings or elevated mood. The buzzword for dopamine (in this context, as it has many functions) is "reward" - the presence of dopamine in the brain modulates the feeling of satisfaction from achievement, and encourages people to pursue the course of action that produced it. Meanwhile serotonin has been linked to positive moods, for example in clinical depression which is often treated with medication that affects serotonin action in the brain.

OCD has traditionally been linked to serotonin, as it is classified as an anxiety disorder and sometimes treated with antidepressents. However, there has also been research linking certain kinds of OCD to an imbalance between the functions of serotonin and dopamine (see for example The role of dopamine in obsessive-compulsive disorder: preclinical and clinical evidence). From what I have read, research on this subject has led to the use of antipsychotics in treatments, in particular in cases where patients don't respond well to SSRIs (antidepressents) alone.

In summary: yes, there is a connection between dopamine, the "reward chemical", and obsessive compulsive disorder. It appears the connection is stronger or more apparent in patients who also have Tourette's syndrome. With respect to genetic markers, as far as I know the genetic research is in an early stage. It cannot be said that any one gene "causes" a specific illness, only that there is a statistical link between them. Correlation does not imply causation, and genetic researchers are unlikely to say that a gene causes an illness if they can't demonstrate a mechanism by which it does so.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! Makes a lot more sense and will definitely result in me doing some more research, I appreciate it! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ This is a somewhat ... old-fashioned take on neuromodulators and their role in mood disorders. Dopamine as coding reward, serotonin as directly modulating mood ... $\endgroup$
    – jona
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ @jona I feel the same way, but I think that there's enough of a basis for further study if the OP wants to pursue it at a research level. I think it certainly addresses the question well. I would love it (could be a bounty in it for ya!) if you would elaborate on the current work in the field. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 12:00

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