When we hear about someone struggling with OCD, we don’t expect to see a "normal" person. We visualize someone who can’t have a normal conversation without biting their nails, having a tic or not being able to look us in the eye. The reality, however, is that many people who suffer from OCD have normal lives, and they only show their disease in the privacy of their homes. So, what is OCD?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a disorder that makes the person suffer from compulsive behaviors and obsessive ideas, and most of the time it goes undiagnosed and untreated for years. This is because people who suffer from it are too focused on their obsessions to ask for help, and they are afraid of losing control and making a change.
Among the most common symptoms of OCD we can find an irrational fear of germs and disease, unusual ideas regarding sex, religion or violence, the irrational desire to check everything a number of times or to arrange certain objects in a certain order and, of course, the inability to control any of these behaviors. Naturally, not everyone who is crazy about cleaning is suffering from OCD, and we should never assume that someone has the disorder only because they act in a certain way.
How does OCD affect the life of the sufferer? To start with, their social and romantic relationships are very often under a lot of pressure. Some people suffering from OCD are concerned about everything being covered in germs and bacteria, therefore they will refuse to touch another person and if they are forced to do so, they will clean themselves numerous times until they are sure they are clean. The same thing applies if someone walks into their home with dirty shoes, or if someone puts their bag on the kitchen table. As you can imagine, being around a person with OCD can be frustrating at times, therefore they do not socialize as much especially if their OCD is advanced.
However, don’t assume that all people who have OCD have bad social relationships. There are many who manage to keep their disorder under control and they live normal, healthy and active lives. They understand that their actions are unusual and although they can’t stop, they do their best to limit them to their home.
How can you help someone with OCD? To begin with, you have to help them understand and realize what they are actually doing. For example, if they are obsessed with arranging their clothes they might not actually realize what they are doing, and they might even believe that their behavior is completely normal. Showing an OCD person how other people live and behave might help them make the first step towards recovery. Naturally, professional help is required and slowly they will be encouraged to give up a small part of their obsession. For example if they usually check their door every 30 minutes, they will be asked to do so every 40 minutes or every hour to try to break the cycle. It might seem like something silly for a healthy person, but for an OCD person this is a huge step that needs to be appreciated and encouraged. Medication may be required in some cases, especially if the patient does not respond to therapy. However, changes in the lifestyle and therapy sessions are the best choice.
Regarding their diet, many people who suffer from OCD only eat a certain amount of food at specific times. They feel that eating diverse foods might make them lose control over their lives, and as you can guess this is the worst thing for them. Therefore, more often than not they will need to take nutritional supplements such as multivitamins to help them deal with the disorder and keep their body healthy. If they are able to eat anything they want, a diet based on fruits and vegetables is recommended; although animal proteins are healthy they may also make the person more agitated and more focused on their obsessive thoughts. Sugar of any kind is a bad choice, as well as anything that could make them overly alert and energetic such as energy drinks or coffee.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in plants that will not only relieve anxiety but also calm the mind down and help suppress obsessive thinking. This is extremely useful since many people have increased symptoms when they are stressed or agitated. Although it is found in plants, it is better to take it in supplement form.
The B Vitamins are, apparently, the best supplements for people with OCD. Studies show that taking Vitamin B supplements daily for at least 6 weeks can reduce the symptoms and may be as efficient as chemical treatments for OCD. Other studies show that most of the people who suffer from OCD have low levels of B12 compared to healthy people. So taking a B Complex and extra B 12 is a great idea for anyone suffering from OCD.
Exercise is also vital for patients with OCD, because it improves general health and it reduces anxiety and stress. This can help them deal with daily stressful situations that trigger their obsessions. Furthermore, exercise releases “hormones of happiness” that will decrease the risk of depression and unhealthy thoughts.Having OCD does not mean that you can’t live a normal life. If you or someone you know is fighting with this disorder, there are many ways to get help and treatment. Luckily, with professional assistance the obsessions can be kept under control and the person can have healthy relationships with everyone around them. Never lose trust in what you can do and never let the OCD overcome your strength.