OCD Treatment at Home
Although obsessive compulsive disorder is typically best managed with medication and therapy, there are many effective natural alternatives for OCD that can be applied at home. These tips should not be taken as a substitute for seeking professional help, but rather as effective additional self care that can be done in combination with your other treatments. If you are currently seeing a therapist or psychiatrist for treatment of OCD, be sure to inform them of any natural alternatives you are engaging in.
Taking daily vitamins is one habit that people get into. Not only can taking the right vitamins make your whole body more healthy, it will also help you treat OCD naturally. Some of the best vitamins to take include a daily multivitamin, folic acid (B9), and B12. These vitamins are believed to help with brain functioning and treating anxiety. You can find these vitamins at your local pharmacy or grocery store. You also get many of these vitamins from eating healthy foods. Oranges and orange juice are an excellent source of folic acid. Fortified healthy whole grain cereals are also a great source of B vitamins.
Exposure Response Therapy
Exposure Response Therapy (ERT) is the most common treatment used for OCD. This is often most effectively done under the care of a mental health professional, but there are some key points in ERT that are great to learn for treating OCD naturally. Exposure Response is exactly what it sounds like- exposing yourself to the source of your anxiety and learning how to change your response. In OCD, compulsions are the coping skills for our obsessions. For example, a fear of germs may compel you to wash your hands repeatedly. Unfortunately, the compulsion only temporarily relieves the anxiety, making it come back with stronger intensity. The best way to really alleviate your anxiety is to expose yourself to the stressor and allow yourself to feel anxious. Repeatedly exposing yourself to the stressor will eventually become a conditioning exercise that will help curb your anxiety. Here is a step by step process for using these techniques at home.
Step 1: Identify the compulsion you would like to change. (This can be anything repetitive that you do to relieve anxiety. Some common compulsions include repetitive handwashing, unnecessary checking locks or switches on appliances, feeling like you have to do things “a certain way” etc)
Step 2: Recognize the stress that lies beneath the compulsion. This is the Obsession. You might be anxious about getting a communicable disease, so therefore you refuse to use public bathrooms at all cost. The fear of getting a disease is what causes you to react in an irrational way. You may have a constant anxiety that you forgot to turn off the stove. This could therefore cause you to drive back to your house numerous times a day to check.
Step 3: Understand that performing the compulsion, only makes the anxiety worse. If you go back to your house to check the locks, you will feel a temporary relief of anxiety, but it will continue to come back. Performing the compulsion allows the anxiety to have more power over you and therefore it will inevitably feel more intense.
Step 4: Think about challenging your anxiety. Think about what it would feel like to make yourself use a public bathroom. Rate this on a scale from 1-10 (1 being easy, 10 producing unbearable anxiety)
Step 5: DO IT! This is the hard part. If you are afraid of using a public bathroom try to take one step in the door and stand inside for 30 seconds. If you feel the need to check the locks, give yourself a few mintues before you embark on doing so. This is going to produce a lot of anxiety, but if you do this over and over again, it will eventually go down.
Step6: Repeat steps 1-5 as often as possible, and always reevaluate your stress level on a scale of 1-10. (before and after the activity) It would be helpful to make a chart so that you can see progress as your anxiety decreases.
There is a great workbook called The OCD Workbook Second Edition: Your Guide to Breaking Free From Obsessive Compulsive Disorder written by Bruce M Hyman, PhD and Chery Pedrick, RN. This workbook is a great tool for guiding you through treating OCD naturally. The work book breaks down the Exposure Response method and gives you activities to complete. The workbook can be done at home and will help you learn more about OCD and treat it naturally.
Tips and Tricks
Breathing is important when dealing with any kind of anxiety. Oftentimes when we feel anxious, our entire body tenses up and we forget to breathe. This actually makes the anxiety worse, because the flow of fresh oxygen is vital to sustaining good mental health. When you are feeling anxious, experiencing ongoing obsessive thoughts, it is a great idea to be still and take 5 to 10 slow deep breaths. Try to breathe in through your diaphram, expanding your stomach. Exhale each breath completely before taking the next.
Yoga is a great practice to help deal with depression and anxiety and has many health benefits. The practice of yoga focuses heavily on breathing and stretching muscles for relaxation. Doing yoga is a great way to help treat OCD naturally.
Here is a great technique to help clear your mind and jumpstart your brain when you are experiencing obsessive thoughts. When you are feeling anxious due to obsessive thoughts, take about 30 seconds to recognize the environment around you. Glance at various points around you and identify what colors and objects are present. Quickly move from point to point. This will help refocus your brain and get you out of your patterned stuck thinking. This is a great technique for treating OCD naturally.