Reward Dependence - Relationship To Clinical Disorders

Relationship To Clinical Disorders

Cloninger’s theory suggests that over expression of the RD temperament could cause psychiatric illnesses, such as addictive behaviors, sociopathies, and personality disorders.

Low levels of norepinephrine cause an increase in reward dependence. When produced in normal levels, norepinephrine creates a sense of well-being, but low levels of norepinephrine cause symptoms of depression, lack of arousal and lack of motivation. In humans, this leads to then a negative feedback mechanism whereby we seek out pleasurable activities to remove the negative affect caused by the low levels of norepinephrine, therefore increasing our reward dependence.

An increase in the RD temperament leads us to seek out those behaviors or substances that will allow us to remain in a pleasant physical and/or mental state, attributing to the fact that we humans are hedonistic individuals, seeking to avoid pain and embracing pleasurable stimuli. Our pleasure and reward systems in the brain are hyper-activated, which makes us display continuous approach behaviors to the reward in question. Our neuro-circuity is as such that when we stop having access to such pleasurable objects of desire, we then experience negative consequences (withdrawal symptoms). Addictive behaviors then arise to alleviate such negative consequences and the cycle continues.

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