What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviors you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognize that your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are irrational—but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free.
What exactly are obsessions and compulsions?
Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that occur over and over again and feel outside of the person’s control. Individuals with OCD do not want to have these thoughts and find them disturbing. In most cases, people with OCD realize that these thoughts don’t make any sense.Obsessions are typically accompanied by intense and uncomfortable feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just
Compulsions are the second part of obsessive compulsive disorder. These are repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making their obsessions go away. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution but without a better way to cope they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions. Compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values.
Signs and Symptoms
These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.
- Fear of germs or contamination
- Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm
- Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
- Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order
- Excessive cleaning and/or hand washing
- Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way.
- Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off.
- Compulsive counting
What Causes OCD?
There is evidence that OCD symptoms can sometimes get passed on from parents to children. This means the biological vulnerability to develop OCD may sometimes be inherited.There are environmental stressors that can trigger OCD in people with a tendency toward developing the condition. Certain environmental factors may also cause a worsening of symptoms.
Some of the environmental factors are:
Changes in living situation
Death of a loved one
Work- or school-related changes or problems
Let me begin with the proactive perspective, it’s important to realize that you have the potential to take control over your health, including your mental or psychiatric health.
Psychiatric conditions such as OCD are primarily believed to be the result of chemical dysfunction in your brain, or in some cases hereditary and therefore out of your control. Many fail to realize that a) your lifestyle can override genetic predispositions, and b) your lifestyle can be a major underlying cause of that chemical imbalance or dysfunction.
So, there’s plenty of reason to take a closer look at lifestyle factors such as diet and toxic exposures—whether you want to prevent a health condition, or treat it.
The Gut-Brain Connection
In a very real sense, you have two brains: one inside your skull and one in your gut.
While they may seem very different, these two organs are actually created out of the same type of tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system.
Your vagus nerve—the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen—connects these two organs together. Your gut actually produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin—thought to play an important role in OCD, in addition to having a beneficial influence on your mood in general—than your brain does, so optimizing your gut flora may indeed have tremendous benefit for your psychological health. And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that this needs to begin from birth, or even, ideally, before birth.
Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that nourishing your gut flora with the beneficial bacteria found in traditionally fermented foods (or a probiotic supplement) is extremely important for proper brain function, and that includes psychological well-being and mood control.
Things recommended to do:
Sugar in fruit isn’t too bad. White sugar in desserts is. Sugar, like caffeine, stimulates your body in a way that can create a jitteriness that exacerbates anxiety symptoms.
Quit caffeine drinks completely. If one is a regular tea or coffee drinker he may need to do this gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms
If your cholesterol is below 170, get it up. Lower than 170 the body can not repair the myelin.
Dairy products aren’t inherently bad for you, but in excess they may heighten your adrenaline levels and contribute to a more anxious state. Moderation is the key here, and if you find after consuming dairy products you feel more anxious, cut back.
Ensure you are getting the daily minimum requirement of vitamin B-complex.
1 tbs. Flax seed oil daily (fatty acids help nourish the nerve sheathing.
Exercise, which has potent antidepressant effects, can also be helpful in treating the anxiety that plagues OCD sufferers.
Try not to skip meals or eat on the run. Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar to drop, which will make other stress-related symptoms worse, such as headaches or stomach tension. Eating on the run can cause indigestion. Use mealtime to relax, enjoy the flavor of your meal, and reflect on your day.
Foods like yogurt, pickles, eggs, sour cream, wine, and liver are all acid creating foods, and there are reasons to believe that these foods drop magnesium levels. Magnesium is a cause or contributor of anxiety in many of those suffering from anxiety symptoms, so cutting back on acid forming foods is important.
Foods to Eat :
Vegetables are arguably even more important, especially for those with anxiety. Vegetables are rich in fiber, and many of the vitamins that those with anxiety deplete regularly.
Your body does need carbs and sugar, it just doesn’t need refined sugars. Fresh fruit has sugar that can be converted to energy, and provides necessary nutrients as well. Blueberries and peaches may be especially advantageous.
Tryptophan Rich Foods
Foods rich in tryptophan are very effective at reducing anxiety. They have a natural relaxation component, and may increase your metabolism as an added bonus. Oats, soy, poultry, and sesame seeds all have a fair amount of tryptophan.
A tremendous percentage of the population is regularly dehydrated because they do not drink nearly enough water. Dehydration nearly always leads to anxiety, which is why it’s crucial that you consume enough water regularly.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research into Omega 3’s is still being conducted, but there is some evidence that Omega-3 is important for depression and anxiety. Omega-3’s can be found in fish, flax seed, and winter squash.
Magnesium Rich Foods
As much as 25% of the country or more is magnesium deficient, and magnesium plays a role in over 300 different processes within the body. It’s a crucial vitamin that few people get, so magnesium rich foods like black beans and tofu are very important.
Unless you improve your diet, you’re making it harder to reduce anxiety. Anxiety isn’t directly linked to diet, but your diet is a contributing factor to both the experience and the severity. Since eating a healthier diet is also important for your health and your self-esteem, changing your diet when you suffer from anxiety makes a great deal of sense. Then you can pair your anxiety diet up with an effective treatment technique.
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This article is not intended to take the place of a competent nutritionist or doctor. It is solely intended to educate people on the vital and perhaps underestimated importance of this nutritional element.
The information in this site is presented for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or prescribe.
In the event the reader uses the information for his own health, he is in fact prescribing for himself, which is his own constitutional right, and for which the author assumes no responsibility.
If you suffer from a medical condition, consult your doctor. If you have questions as to the application of this information to your own health, you are advised to consult a qualified health professional.