Terri K. Lankford, LPCS
OCD Awareness: Approaching OCD Holistically
Earlier this month, we talked about ADHD in women (if you haven’t read our blog post yet, read it here!). Today, we’re talking about another form of neurodivergence: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD!
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is categorized by cycles of obsessions, or persistent thoughts, and compulsions, or attempts to stop those thoughts. While many of us can experience obsessive thoughts (which is not necessarily a sign of a mental health disorder, though it can be), OCD is recognizable partly by how much of one’s day is spent on those thoughts and compulsions. For example, the average American washes their hands 7.8 times a day. Those with OCD that includes hand-washing rituals may wash their hands an average of 50 to 100 times a day. That’s a clear difference!
We’d like to be clear: OCD can look very different even among two individuals with the same disorder. There are multiple subtypes of OCD. One person’s OCD may look like hand-washing rituals and the compulsion to organize, while someone else’s may center around giant life questions (why am I here?), and a third may center around fear of harming themselves or others. All of these subtypes are valid, and all can be distressing to those experiencing it.
If you’re interested in some holistic approaches to OCD management, check out three tips below from the holistic pros at Rise and Thrive Counseling!
One new supplement that our resident OCD specialist Dr. Karaleigh Reichart has her eye on is N-AC. N-Acetyl Cysteine, or N-AC, is one supplement for OCD that has some new, promising results. In four clinical trials, N-AC showed to reduce OCD symptoms and induce minimal side effects. N-AC works by reducing stress levels, inflammation, and glutamate levels, while increasing dopamine.
*While N-AC may be a promising supplement for you, always consult your medical doctor before implementing a new supplement or dietary change. N-AC can interact with other medications you may be taking, so it’s especially important to talk to a doctor, first!
We often underestimate how intimately what we eat is tied to how we feel! Modifying your diet to include vitamins and minerals that help combat OCD is one simple, low-investment approach to OCD management. Some things to include in your meals are:
Vitamin D3 (incorporate fish, eggs, cow milk, mushrooms)
Zinc (found in many seeds, like pumpkin and sesame seeds, as well as beef and oysters)
Magnesium (leafy greens, squash, whole grains)
Omega-3 (found in seafood and brussel sprouts - you either love them or hate them!)
Try out incorporating just a few meals with these ingredients weekly to see if there’s a change in your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Here’s a list of meals made with seafood and leafy greens to get you started!
Mindfulness may feel like a buzzword, but the good news is: it actually works for many folx with mental health concerns! Mindfulness is the ability to be in the present; one of the skills includes knowing what we’re thinking, when we’re thinking it, and why we’re thinking it. Not only are we able to recognize our thoughts with mindfulness, but we’re able to let them pass without judgment, too.
For those with OCD, mindfulness has been shown to be effective in helping folx not cave into compulsions, especially compared to those who just try to resist them.
Today, start with a simple mindfulness exercise - sit, and let your thoughts come to you. The goal is not to clear your mind, but to recognize when thoughts arrive, thank them for coming, and move on. You can’t fail at this exercise - the point is to allow yourself to experience your thoughts, really tune in to them, and accept their presence.
We hope this blog post helped you learn about holistic approaches to OCD! If you’re looking for a holistic practice with experts in OCD, look no further than Rise and Thrive Counseling. We’d be happy to hear about your experience and work towards your goals for OCD management. Reach out today to get scheduled. We look forward to hearing from you!