Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


I was on Tumblr one night and saw this picture and it really stood out to me. I knew that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was a mental illness but I didn’t really think it an actual sickness in the brain. I guess I just figured it was in the person’s head or something triggered it, rather than actually having a distinct difference in the brain compared to a normal  person with no OCD. I believe my roommate has slight OCD in the sense that everything has to be perfect, even and exact. I thought she was just being annoying, but this picture proves me wrong.

According to OCD research, the brains of those with OCD have trouble communicating with the front part of the brain and deeper structures. The lack of an important chemical messenger in the brain, serotonin, is responsible for OCD symptoms. People with OCD that were given serotonin medicines improved and showed less of their symptoms. The changes in the brain also run in the family. Not only does the brain lack serotonin, but the brain also shows OCD symptoms when it has a dysfunctional neuronal loop from the orbital frontal cortex to the cingulate gyrus, striatum, globes pallidus, thalamus and back to the frontal cortex. When these regions in the brain are affected, obsessive and compulsive symptoms appear.

The orbital frontal cortex is responsible for social behavior. If there is more activity than normal here, such as in people with OCD, it causes the person to worry more about social concerns. Examples of social concerns for OCD people are being precise, meticulous and/or neat. The cingulate gyrus is responsible for the emotional response to obsessive thoughts. The emotional response tells the person to respond compulsively to relieve themselves of anxiety. To tie it all together, the orbital frontal cortex, the cingulate gyrus, and the others are all affected by serotonin.

As said before, OCD runs in the family. According to recent research, it is believe that there are certain genetic factors that are involved in regulating  serotonin functions in the brain that can be passed down to offspring. In order to show proof that OCD is genetic, there was a study on twins, in which one twin developed OCD and the other twin soon followed. This suggests that there is a definite genetic relationship.

It is just so interesting to me that since OCD can be passed down from generation to generation and specific genes can be developed differently that results in brain disorders and such. It amazes me that each person develops differently and inherits many different genes compared to others.  The development of the brain and of a human being in general is so phenomenal to learn about.