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Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, involves anxious thoughts or rituals you feel you can’t control. If you have OCD, you may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals.
You may be obsessed with germs or dirt, so you wash your hands over and over. You may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly. You may have frequent thoughts of violence, and fear that you will harm people close to you. You may spend long periods touching things or counting; you may be preoccupied by order or symmetry; you may have persistent thoughts of performing sexual acts that are repugnant to you; or you may be troubled by thoughts that are against your religious beliefs.
The disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions, and the rituals that are performed to try to prevent or get rid of them are called compulsions. There is no pleasure in carrying out the rituals you are drawn to, only temporary relief from the anxiety that grows when you don’t perform them.
A lot of healthy people can identify with some of the symptoms of OCD, such as checking the stove several times before leaving the house. But for people with OCD, such activities consume at least an hour a day, are very distressing, and interfere with daily life.
Most adults with this condition recognize that what they’re doing is senseless, but they can’t stop it. Some people, though, particularly children with OCD, may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.
OCD afflicts about 2.2 million American adults. It strikes men and women in approximately equal numbers and usually first appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. One-third of adults with OCD report having experienced their first symptoms as children. The course of the disease is variable—symptoms may come and go, they may ease over time, or they can grow progressively worse. Research evidence suggests that OCD might run in families.
OCD generally responds well to treatment with medications or carefully targeted psychotherapy.
No single proven cause has been identified for OCD. Researchers believe OCD is related to low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin supplements, which contain the precursors that enable the brain to make more serotonin, have helped many OCD sufferers to function better.
In our practice the work up includes Neurotransmitter levels especially serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, histamine, and GABA. B12, Homocysteine, copper and zinc levels are also checked.
The following OCD supplements may provide natural relief for OCD symptoms. We use these OCD supplements in our clinic either by themselves or in combination with an SSRI anti-depressant:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective means of controlling anxious and intrusive thoughts, as experienced with obsessions and compulsions. Research shows that children can be taught to “challenge” their anxious or excessive thoughts by being taught to better understand what is taking place. Though not a full answer, study results are encouraging. Many are not aware of this method, and it is not always easy to find a practitioner.