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The Links Between OCD and Serotonin Deficiency

Micah Abraham, BSc
The Links Between OCD and Serotonin Deficiency

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder which, like many anxiety disorders, is marked by low levels of serotonin. Serotonin, a type of neurotransmitter, has a variety of functions that make a deficiency a serious and anxiety producing issue.

This article will discuss the various functions of serotonin in the body and how they can affect obsessive compulsive disorder.

Serotonin Levels Can Be Controlled

Serotonin is the chicken/egg argument in anxiety. It's impossible to tell which came first - the anxiety, or the low serotonin. But what science does know is that you can cure both at the same time with proper coping tools and techniques. 

The Many Jobs of Serotonin

Serotonin is a highly useful neurotransmitter to have in your brain and body. It has all kinds of important jobs that, all together, help to make us the balanced and healthy people we are - or want to be. People suffering from anxiety disorders like OCD are often low in serotonin.

Serotonin is thought to be at least partially responsible for regulating the following functions within your body:

Serotonin clearly affects a variety of different functions, and when you suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, any of these issues may be affected.

How Serotonin Causes OCD

Unfortunately, the exact way that serotonin to cause OCD isn't known. All that's known is that low serotonin and OCD are related. But since serotonin acts as a chemical messenger in the brain, there is likely some component of the mind that is being told to have more negative thoughts and engage in compulsive behaviors.

It's also possible that obsessive compulsive disorder leads to lower serotonin levels. Since controlling OCD can raise serotonin, this is also something to consider.

Antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed medications for OCD.

SSRIs increase serotonin in the brain by limiting their reuptake or reabsorption by neurons, or brain cells. Serotonin normally leaps between cells to transmit various messages having to do with its many jobs. In people with naturally low or depleted levels of serotonin, too much of this serotonin is reabsorbed by the neurons, preventing it from transmitting messages between the neurons as it should.

SSRIs cause serotonin to linger between neurons in the spaces called synapses so that they can do their jobs without being reabsorbed.

How to Naturally Increase Serotonin

However, medications are not the ideal treatment for any anxiety disorder - even one caused by low serotonin. Serotonin can be naturally increased and mood regulated through engaging in the following activities:

Also, remember that controlling your anxiety in general by learning the right ways to cope with it has also been shown to be successful at raising serotonin, so make sure you treat your anxiety and don't just focus on serotonin levels.

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