Serotonin and OCD  

Ideas about serotonin in OCD

The medications that work to improve OCD symptoms all act on a brain chemical called serotonin. This is one of the brain's neurotransmitters, and is one of the ways that brain cells communicate with each other. It may be that people who have OCD have differences in the way their brains produce or handle serotonin; these are likely to be very subtle differences.

There have been research studies trying to work out whether people with OCD really do have differences in their serotonin levels, and so far there are no definite conclusions. This may be because the brain is so complicated, and so many different chemicals act together to influence brain functions such as thinking, feeling, behaving etc. It is impossible to measure brain chemistry directly, so researchers have to look at serotonin levels in other parts of the body, such as the blood, and subtle brain differences may not be detected.

For a detailed review of serotonin in OCD see:

Gross R, Sasson Y, Chopra M, Zohar J: Biological models of obsessive compulsive disorder: the serotonin hypothesis. In: Swinson R, ed. Obsessive compulsive disorder: theory, research and treatment. New York: The Guilford Press, 1998.

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