Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychological condition that involves recurrent and persistent thoughts or images (obsessions) that are experienced as intrusive and cause distress. These obsessions are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems, but take on an unrealistic quality. In order to combat their obsessions, people with OCD engage in repetitive behaviors (compulsions), often following rigid self-imposed rules.
The cause of OCD is not known. Antidepressant drugs that affect serotonin levels, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), often relieve symptoms significantly, but the reasons for this are not clear. Psychotherapeutic and behavioral methods may also help.
The supplement inositol is thought to increase the body’s sensitivity to serotonin and on that basis it has been studied for use in a number of psychological conditions, including OCD.
In a small double-blind trial, use of inositol at a dose of 18 grams (g) daily for 6 weeks significantly improved symptoms of OCD as compared to placebo.1However, some evidence suggests that inositol does not increase the effectiveness of standard drugs for OCD.2,3
The herb St. John’s worthas antidepressant properties and is thought to affect serotonin levels. On this basis, it has been tried for OCD,5 but as yet there is no reliable evidence that it is effective. On a similar basis, the supplement 5-HTP has been suggested as a treatment for OCD, but again there is no meaningful evidence to turn to.
A form of magnet therapy called rTMS has shown promise for the treatment of depression. However, a double-blind, placebo-controlled studyof 18 people with OCD found no evidence of benefit through the use of rTMS.6
In a small, randomized trial, a yoga meditation technique called kundalini was more effective for OCD than a relaxation therapyinvolving mindfulness meditation after 3 months.7However, another small study found mindfulness meditation more helpful than no intervention for OCD symptoms.8
Last reviewedSeptember 2014by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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