Throughout life, most of us experience obsessive or compulsive tendencies at some point. When these tendencies occur in someone to an extent that is disruptive and distressing, this is called obsessive compulsive disorder. Here's a brief look at OCD and some dietary supplements that can physiologically benefit those who have OCD.
OCD and Its Treatments
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition wherein a person regularly experiences obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors that cause distress. Obsessions are repeated, intrusive thoughts; compulsions are behaviors are repeated behaviors a person engages in to mitigate these obsessive thoughts. These obsessions and compulsions vary in their nature, and are accompanied by significant anxiety and distress.
OCD occurs in 1 in about 200 children, and 1 in 100 adults. It tends to appear between the ages of 8 and 12, or during the late teen years. There is not one fixed cause for OCD. Suspected causes include genetic factors, as well as certain neurological processes in the brain.
There are standard medical approaches to treating OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves a method known as Exposure and Response Prevention is usually the first line of treatment for OCD. This treatment requires determination and courage, and is known to be successful for many with OCD. Alternatively, medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors might be prescribed for OCD.
Supplements for Those with OCD
Some supplements can have neurological interactions that could mitigate the symptoms and associated tendencies of OCD. These should be considered in the context of the medical treatment for OCD, and not as a replacement. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking one of these supplements.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an antioxidant that can affect the neurotransmitter known as glutamate. This could be helpful in reducing the severity of OCD symptoms because glutamate imbalance is a possible contributor to OCD. There are some studies which support the use of taking NAC for mitigating OCD, and similar compulsive disorders as well.
Inositol is a naturally-occurring nutrient that is present in many plant-based foods, and is taken as an oral supplement. Inositol can affect certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin and GABA. Some studies have shown a correlation between taking inositol, and a reduction in obsessive and compulsive tendencies in OCD, as well as anxiety and depression.
L-theanine is an amino acid that can reduce stress and anxiety, and contribute to feelings of calmness. These effects can be helpful for someone with OCD. The relaxing effects of l-theanine make sense, given that l-theanine naturally occurs in green tea. Some evidence also suggests L-theanine could increase serotonin and GABA production.
Vitamin C has the potential to reduce anxiety and bodily stress. This can help those with OCD be more at ease. Vitamin C also benefits the body's adrenal gland functions, which manage the body's stress response. By helping the body handle stress, as well as by combating oxidative damage, vitamin C helps the body be at ease and less prone to the anxiety that accompanies OCD.
Magnesium is a critical mineral which can have beneficial effects on mood and relaxation. The calming effects of getting sufficient magnesium are thought to help those with OCD be more at ease.
OCD is a disorder that can be disruptive and distressing to those who have it. Aside from the clinical approaches to treatment, taking in healthy substances that can benefit you physiologically is a worthwhile consideration for addressing OCD. If you or a family member has OCD, then consider how these supplements could help you, and consult your healthcare provider.