OCD and its Relationship to Hormones, Glucose Metabolism, and Food Allergies

Sound Body, Sound Mind

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is basically self-defining.Those who have it have an obsession or obsessions (repetitive thoughts one can't get rid of which cause stress ranging from mild to severe) and compulsions (repetitive actions carried out to ease or get rid of the obsessions, however temporarily; these can be counting, handwashing, saying a word over and over, mantras, etc.). Some OCD is known as "pure O" wherein the sufferer only has obsessions and no compulsions to keep them "in check"--although the repetitive ruminating in and of itself is a form of compulsion.

Typical treatment for OCD is some sort of SSRI (a drug known as a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) which keeps the calming neurotransmitter in the brain's synaptic gaps for longer periods of time, thereby reducing the symptoms of OCD, and/or behavior modification therapy. I've tried both, with little success.

I'm not a fan of taking medication unless I feel I really need it, and I'm especially not fond of taking medication that has a plethora of side effects. All SSRI's, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, and anti-convulsive medications have side effects. The intention of keeping serotonin in the synapses has a long-term unintended effect of, essentially, depleting the body's own stores of this neurotransmitter, requiring either stronger meds, different meds, or different treatment altogether.

Behavior modification therapy may be effective for some, but I've read about some therapists who make their patients confront their fears by exposure. For example, if one has an obsession about hurting loved ones, the therapy might be to watch horror movies until the sufferer is desensitized to violent images. To my estimation, this sounds like cruel and unusual punishment where there is no crime, only illness.

Neither of these therapies address the root of OCD. What causes it? Why does it typically start in puberty for both genders or after childbirth for women? I've been researching this for years and years, not just to help myself, but to help others and to find something better than a pharmaceutical Band-aid. In addition to OCD, I also have several physical health problems, and I've used myself as a guinea pig over the years, testing my hypotheses and treatments, and have found a good deal of success.

The Origins of OCD

OCD does appear to have much to do with hormonal imbalance, glucose metabolism, and allergies, especially food allergies. During puberty (which is when mine began--almost a year to the day after my first menstrual cycle), the body is undergoing dramatic changes. Because of genetic, environmental, and even dietary issues, it can be a particularly devastating transition. Too little progesterone, too little estrogen, or just an incorrect ratio of the two disrupts the brain's neurotransmitters. Progesterone enhances GABA in the brain. GABA is a calming substance, ergo, too little progesterone, too little GABA. Estrogen modulates MAO inhibition.Like pharmaceutical monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, estrogen reduces MAO activity, resulting in higher levels of both catecholamines and serotonin in the brain. Estrogen also increases opioid and endorphin production by the hypothalamus. At neuronal synapses, estrogen increases the concentration of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It affects their release, reuptake, and enzymatic inactivation. It also increases the number of receptors for these neurotransmitters. If one's ovarian output is low, either due to genetic factors, or physical reasons like PCOS (a condition in which testosterone and progesterone outweigh estrogen), the quantity and quality of serotonin and dopamine are compromised, resulting in anxiety. OCD is an anxiety disorder. Recent studies show that low estrogen levels in men also result in OCD. Supplementation of this hormone results in reduction or remission of symptoms.

Lacking in progesterone, however, is also not conducive to being in a calm state. Progesterone, produced during the midluteal phase of a woman's menstrual cycle, and in small quantities in men, has sedative effects on the brain, acting much the same way that an anti-anxiolytic medication such as Ativan would. The ebb of progesterone or insufficient quantity of it (again from genetic factors or other concomittant condition) reduces the calming effects and tips the scales in favor of the excitatory effects of estrogen. It's important to have enough serotonin, but like everything in the body, it much be balanced with dopamine and norepinephrine. Progesterone also enhances the calming neurotransmitter GABA's effects on the brain and actually can cause remission of a panic attack or state of anxiety in minutes after sublingual, topical, or intravenous administration. New mothers suffering from postpartum depression, postpartum OCD, and postpartum psychosis are all found to be deficient in progesterone. The rapid drop in progesterone and estrogen after delivery also accounts for altered mental states. Bioidentical progesterone supplementation can help new mothers heal and enjoy their newborns.

Food for Thought

In addition to the hormonal influence on OCD, there is also a dietary influence. If you've read my hub on hypoglycemia, you will remember that faulty glucose metabolism can cause symptoms of anxiety and depression. Too much insulin secretion after meals or even in a fasting state, causes the blood sugar level to drop or prevents it from rising at all. In a desperate attempt to feed the brain, the body goes into stress mode and churns out adrenaline to try to bring glucose back into the bloodstream. The brain, starved for glucose, is altered in its functioning and excess adrenaline is causing feelings of panic and anxiety, making OCD symptoms worse. Too much insulin is caused by either taking too much insulin if one is diabetic, pancreatic beta cell dysfunction, pancreatic tumor called insulinoma (rare), a diet high in refined carbohydrates, and the aforementioned hormonal imbalance. Estrogen enhances insulin sensitivity of cells resulting in less insulin being needed to drive glucose into cells. Progesterone causes a rise in glucose, necessitating more insulin production to lower it and exacerbating insulin resistance in cells. Making sure one's hormones are balanced is a major first step in correcting hyperinsulinemia. Equally important is changing one's diet to resemble a Paleo diet--high in lean protein and vegetables and low in simple carbohydrates. Even fruit can cause a rapid rise in blood glucose, an outpouring of insulin, a hypoglycemic attack, and resulting anxiety. Vitamin supplements can also help glucose metabolism. Arginine,carnitine (N-acetyl), cysteine (N-Acetyl), glutamine, glycine, taurine, tyrosine, chromium picolinate, selenium, zinc,vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacinamide), vitamin B5, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, alpha lipoc acid, coenzyme Q 10, and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) can all assist in helping insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. I cannot stress enough how important vitamin D is in this process. Vitamin D3 is not a vitamin at all, but a hormone and essential for numerous bodily functions. Vitamin D3 also helps the process of balancing one's other hormones.

Food Allergies and Anxiety

An allergic reaction results in the body's release of histamine and adrenaline. It's a self-protective measure to try to rid itself of the offending substance, whether it's pollen, mold, or food. We typically think of allergy symptoms as runny nose, sneezing, hives, and watery eyes. More severe allergic reactions, e.g. to peanuts or bee stings, can result in anaphylactic shock or even death if treatment isn't prompt. However, food allergies are not always so clear cut. A person's sensitivity to food may be just that--not a true "allergy" by definition, but something that definitely causes the body's defense mechanism to kick in. In my hub on food allergies, I go into more detail on this, but in a nutshell, when one eats something the body perceives as a foreign invader, adrenaline is pumped out. Adrenaline increases anxiety. Repeated exposure to a food to which one is sensitive results in massive amounts of adrenaline and cortisol, causing a seemingly neverending cycle of anxiety with no recovery time. Only when one removes the offending food or foods from one's diet, can one's body begin to heal, and anxiety to lessen. There are typically 7 common food allergens--wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, sugar, peanuts, and corn--but anyone can develop an allergy or sensitivity to any food at any time in life. Hormonal imbalance and vitamin and mineral deficiency, in addition to an unbalanced diet in which one eats the same foods over and over (we tend to desire most what we are most allergic to), contribute to food allergies and sensitivities, and the resulting anxiety disorders like OCD.

If you have OCD, or any other anxiety disorder, and are seeking a more natural treatment with little to no side effects, please give my theories/remedies a try. They've made a huge difference for me, and I hope they make a difference for you, too.

I wish you good luck and good health.


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Comments 55 comments

4 years ago

I have been struggling with self injurious sking picking for 15 years. Through the same time I have always noticed I am so bloated at the end of the day that I look 7 months pregnant. After some research I completely cut out dairy and gluten. Not only did the self injurious skin picking completely stop, which was an unexpected result, the bloating was gone as well. I highly recommend diet changes to people struggling with what seem to be symptoms of anxiety and/or OCD


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

I'm so glad you're doing better. It's a shame that the modern allopathic answer to OCD is either throw SSRI's at it or behavior modification, when both are usually ineffective, and the former has significant side effects. If only more people WOULD realize that what we put into our bodies manifests in how we feel. Thanks so much for your input!


Guest 4 years ago

I think allergies in general have a lot to do with it. Whenever I'm raw from allergies and can smell perfume a mike away that's when I feel OCD. I'm trying antihistamines to get me back to normal alike rhymes and see if the OCD goes away. We will see. Also food of course causes this. When I have OCD I feel sick. Which can be all the time. I'm trying an elimination diet. Wish me luck!


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Good luck to you! I notice mine is greatly exacerbated when my blood sugar is low. I'm trying to adopt a more Paleo diet to correct this. Sugar can also make allergies/inflammation much worse.


Guest 4 years ago

Your article is very interesting for me as I am desperately trying to find the causes of my 10 year old behavior problems, such as anxiety and OCD. She takes ritilin due to ADD. I see that she has ups and downs throughout the day which causes her to be very anxious, everything around her is distracting to the point she is angry and sometimes aggressive with it. On top of this, she is showing an obvious signs of OCD since we brought a puppy into our home. She cannot relax when he is outside, meaning her anxiety is very very high at this moment.... Only when he is inside does she relax. But then she asks every 5-10 minutes where is he if out of site. We are currently working with a psychologist but I am starting to think that her problems maybe contributed to foods, high levels of sugars and basically poor diet. I have 3 children but she is the only one refusing vegetables and healthier snacks. I am about to take her this week for blood tests to check for food allergy and vitamin deficiency.


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Please also have her checked for strep. There is a condition called PANDAS in children which is abrupt onset OCD caused by undiagnosed strep infection. Prolonged courses of antibiotics can help correct this. Also, children in the modern age are starting puberty earlier and earlier due to so many hormones in meat and dairy products. I also suggest a complete hormone panel. Something as simple as bioidentical progesterone can help immensely with anxiety. I would also request a 24-hour cortisol test. I wish you the best of luck! Please let me know how it goes.


Andrea 4 years ago

What exactly would you recommend in terms of vitamins, hormones, things like that to control OCD? I have been on Celexa, high doses, for years but it doesn't really help that much anymore. Definitely have higher likelihood of obsessing during certain parts of my cycle .. also have hypoglycemia issues so I doubt that helps. Trying to do whatever I can to get off the medications.


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Melanie Gladney 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

5-HTP is very good for helping neural impulses, as is magnesium. Celexa and other SSRI's may help in the short term, but eventually will wear out the body's own supplies of serotonin. You want more serotonin...not less. I recommend getting your mid-luteal (day 21 of your cycle) estradiol and progesterone levels checked, as well as diurnal cortisol and DHEA-S. You will need a naturopathic doctor to assess your hormone levels and provide you with bioidentical compounded hormones to replace what your body isn't making on its own. I also recommend a Paleo type diet or Swedish diet. You want high fat from omega 3 sources, moderate protein, and lots of green, leafy vegetables. Eat as often as you want of these sources. No fruit for awhile or sugar or sweetner of any kind until your hypoglycemia settles. Artificial sweetners are poison anyway. No caffeine either. Your neurons will fire like mad. I recommend Dr. Henry Lindner for your hormone assessments. He is wonderful. wwww.hormonerestoration.com. If you don't live near him, please email or call him. You can also get your hormones tested throught ZRT labs (www.zrtlab.com) I wish you good luck! Let me know how you do.


Zack 4 years ago

High cortisol , high cholesterol, high histamine, and undermethylated. How do I make sense of this all as it pertains to me (diagnosed). What diet should I follow and what hormone tests or treatments should I persue as I am a 38 year old man . Thanks.


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

High cortisol can indicate adrenal fatigue or Cushing's disease. Your doctor can order a dexamethasone suppression test and/or mri to check. High cholesterol and high histamine can be helped by following a Paleo diet...high vegetable, moderate protein, little fruit, no grains, dairy, sugar, or caffeine at all. No diet sodas or artficial sweetners which exacerbate neural impulses. Your doctor can order tests to check your estrogen and progesterone levels. Men have been helped by estrogen supplements. Also have your DHEA- S level checked. DHEA balances cortisol. Please let me know how you do.


Pat 4 years ago

Hi,

I have been dealing with some random OCD thoughts for the past 2 weeks. They started out of nowhere. My guess is it was triggered by gluten consumption and the COD behavior started the day after. I have stopped gluten for the past 2 days. How long does the gluten take to get out of the system? Would you recommend checking my hormone levels? I am a 36 yr old man with blunting of duodenal folds seens in endoscopy but no positive celiac biopsy. Am I gluten sensitive then?


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Gluten sensitivity is a definite possibility. I have noticed effects from it for up to a week after consumption. I also recommend hormone panels. ZRT labs offers several choices for men if your doctor will not test you. Also, be careful of sugar consumption. Hypoglycemia and concomittant food sensitivities can also trigger OCD. Please let me know how you do.


lisa 4 years ago

to the first comment on this page, about the self injurious skin picking. I have also been 'picking' for years. without SSRI meds I had become completely debilitated and depressed and ended up binge eating and picking to the point I hate myself an have no life.

For obvious reasons, I do think of SSRI's (zoloft works the best for me) as a life saver. I am intrigued by this whole cutting out dairy and gluten, inositol supplements, and hormone out of wack theory

(I always suspected there was a strong correlation as my OCD kicked in also around 14, and i was diagnosed with pcos, i go tmyself tested for diabetes years later and the doc said everything was fine except I have high levels of cortisol)

my question is where do I start? theres so much I can do - which is great and gives me a lot of hope (even if its scary b.c i know how addicted i am to certain foods) , and ltos of resources. hormones testeD? which foods to cut out first? which supplements to tak (i bought inositol supplement already). which foods to really focus on instead?

thanks so much!!!


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Cutting out wheat and dairy would help tremendously. Today's wheat is so adulterated by GMO's, that it's much more unhealthy than wheat of, say, 50 years ago. It may take a few weeks to notice a difference. Those with pcos---myself included-- have insulin resistance and very often reactive hypoglycemia which will lower your serotonin and cause adrenaline rushes which worsen OCD. I recommend getting your fasting insulin checked, a dexamethasone suppression test for your cortisol to rule out Cushing's, and

a complete hormone panel--- estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid (complete panel---not just tsh), vitamin D3, and Dhea-s. Focus on a diet of protein and vegetables only for awhile until you see improvement. Please keep me posted.


Teresa 3 years ago

I've suffered from o.c.d since I was a young child...five or so. I don't know how to stop it


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

If you follow the protocol for vitamins and diet detailed in my hub, you should find some relief.


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My Mind Speaks 3 years ago from Long Island N.Y

I LOVE everything in this article! It was an interesting educational read (especially since I suffer from mild ocd myself: I like things in certain spots, I have a slight germ phobia in public places especially restrooms etc) I also found out recently that I have slightly low progesterone as well so it was very informative to see the link between the two, thanks =)


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Melanie Gladney 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

You are very welcome! Happy to help! I really appreciate your kind comment.


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Brandon1995 3 years ago

After one stressful week I seemed to have gotten pure "o", it wasn't a gradual shift at all! It makes no sense at all to me how my life just took a crazy turn! I'm only 17 years old!


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Melanie Gladney 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

There was no gradual shift for me either. It happened when I was 13. One day, fine--the next day, OCD, and it continued for over two decades. It is possible that your stress level has elevated your cortisol, and this in turn has altered your hormonal balance resulting in OCD. If you've recently changed your diet to one of high sugar and/or high caffeine, this might also have precipitated things. At 17, your body is still in hormonal flux. Perhaps you are low in vitamin D3 which affects your other hormone levels, too. What is different lately besides the stress level?


fcovoeddpr 3 years ago

I’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..


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contributor100 3 years ago

Melanie,

I'm a 40 year old male who suffers from pretty chronic, though widely varying, (by degree of severity), OCD.

In particular, my symptoms skyrocket after eating almost anything containing sugar. Consequently, I eat a diet that is very low in sugar and refined carbs, and don't allow myself any caffeine or alcohol.

I also experience terrible itches at night and these are not associated with allergies.

The more sugar I eat, the worse the itching that night, but there's always an itching problem to some degree.

I would very much appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you


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Melanie Gladney 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

The itching can be several things. Even without celiac disease, wheat can cause an itchy skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis. I had a patch of this on my back that I scratched so badly, I had to have a dermatologist remove that tiny patch of skin. I still get itchy in that same region after ingesting wheat. Any food sensitivity--not a true allergy--can cause this. Also, the sugar ingestion can cause a hypoglycemic reaction and adrenaline surge resulting in skin irritation. Avoidance of all sugars, including fruits--maybe even carb avoidance altogether with the exception of green vegetables--could help. Please keep me posted. I would like to know how you do with this.


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Melanie Gladney 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Thank you so much! I set it up according to Hub Pages guidelines, and the ads that run are provided by sponsors. I am honored and flattered by your comment.


matt 3 years ago

hey i am a suffer can you help me


matt 3 years ago

Accidentally hit submit on the previous message before I could type everything out! I also am a sufferer and found I had a vitamin D Deficiency. I have switched almost to a completely vegan diet, sneaking dairy in once in a blue moon, but my main problem just seems to be racing thoughts. What was before more intrusive thoughts, disturbing that just would not leave my head, have been replaced with songs or parts of a song on loop within my head. I can't tell you, though they are better than anything disturbing, how much they drive me crazy! I cannot focus, relax, even when I am sleeping my mind just doesn't want to seem to stop. I am wondering if you had anything similar to this? They are not auditory hallucinations as I don't actually "hear" music, it is all in my head, but my mind just does not want to seem to shut up. I have tried about every SSRI on the market, and they are all garbage. Although a better diet and vitamins have helped with other compulsions and intrusive thoughts, these songs are still going wild and it is honestly a huge burden in my life. If anyone has any knowledge of this, whether it could even be allergies causing the racing thoughts, please let me know! I can definitely vouch for the natural change of diet way over the multiple scripts for pointless negative side effects however, as almost all drugs, just made things worse.


Melanie 3 years ago

Even a vegan diet may be too high in carbs/ sugar. Reactive hypoglycemia can absolutely cause racing thoughts. Try to limit carbs to less than 9 grams per meal and avoid ALL sweeteners. Let me know if this helps you.


Matt 3 years ago

Thank you for your response. I know this is asking a lot but can you recommend a diet or even some examples of what I should be trying to avoid or eat a lot of. I have not yet seen an ND and don't even have the slightest clue on what effects what or what type of diet is best for me.


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Melanie Gladney 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Generally--and I know this will be difficult if you're resolute about going vegan--fat and protein have little effect on insulin. A Paleo, Swedish, or Mediterranean diet are optimal for reactive hypoglycemia. If you're substituting a vegan protein, make sure it has no gluten--no wheat, spelt, barley, or kamut. Even oats can contain gluten. Artificial sweeteners such as Sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame cause neural firing (racing thoughts) and trigger insulin output and hypoglycemic attacks. Water, decaf tea (caffeine can also trigger hypoglycemia), and decaf coffee are good drink choices. All around nutritious drinks would be green drinks---juiced kale, celery, spinach. Many folks add apples to these drinks to give a sweet flavor, but the sugar in the apples may be too much for your system to handle initially. Try to see what works for you. Fruits and fruit juices can trigger almost immediate hypoglycemic reactions. Steer clear for awhile. Green vegetables, water, lean protein, and Omega-3 supplements will have the most beneficial effect on your system. Please keep me posted on how you're doing. I hope this helps you.


Matt 3 years ago

I completely forgot to mention but I do eat some fish, like tuna, so I will implement that in my diet. I guess it is more of a pescatarian diet, but I forgo dairy as well. Thank you for your quick response, and I will keep you updated.


Matt 3 years ago

I forgot to ask..but what are your views on SSRIs or Anti-Psychotics? After dealing with so many trial and errors, would you try the all natural way before even seeing a pysch again unless needed?


Melanie 3 years ago

It depends. If you can't sleep or can't function, then by all means, incorporate meds into your natural regimen. You can always taper later. I have tried SSRIs with no success and have had success with the methods Iisted here, however, everyone is different and some OCD sufferers have concomittant issues that require medication. If you are on meds, never stop them abruptly. It 's too much of a shock for your system, and please talk with your doctor about whatever you are trying or would like to incoporate. Both of you can determine what is best for you.


Matt 3 years ago

Certainly. I appreciate your kind and informative response and will hope to find a cure for this or at least something better than the past medicine I have tried!


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Patriciaoconnell 3 years ago

Hi Melanie, Just found your article and see that folks who have found you have also found my blog about songs stuck in your head. It seems you have been following the same threads of logic I have with hormone imbalances, insulin resistance/cortisol and OCD-like phenomena. But you clearly have insights I'm lacking. I would love to connect with you directly but don't see how to do that through HubPages. However, if you go to my blog you can comment and I can then email you. http://brokenrecordsyndrome.wordpress.com/

FYI, I am posting an article today that provides a link to your excellent article because I think your expertise in metabolic processes will add a dimension to the issue that I've missed and may help the folks who are following me. Excellent work! I look forward to brainstorming with you soon. -Pat


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Melanie Gladney 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

I am honored by your comment and for adding my article to your blog. I would be happy to discuss this with you further in the future. I will read your blog and provide you with my email. Thank you so much!


anonymous 3 years ago

I have had severe ocd from a young age although then it was less severe. When I turned 17 I had a terrible school year failing my ap and honor classes and being completely embarrassed. The ocd had ramped up at the time and i couldn't read things without repeatedly reading them countless times. I obsessed over whether lines I wrote were straight enough and common tasks would take hours. The psychiatrist i saw did a lot of damage too. He gave me luvox,lexapro,prozac, wellbutrn, schizophrenia drugs all within a 4 month period. The ocd became more severe and intrusive as a result. I would have harm or fear of death obsessions centered around whether or not I 'actually completely swallowed' a pill or not. My ocd would not accept the fact that I was alive but I would have to prove the pill wasn't secretly lodged in my throat and that I would choke the next day. I would try to remember the time when I took the pill and 'prove' I swallowed it, which was impossible. This set the stage for the severe thought I had of jumping out of a car. This replaced my pill thoughts but has caused me pain. I now think about whether or not I really wanted to jump out of the car and have to 'prove' that i did not want to. So I have tried to remember the moment and prove the obvious but I can't remember and therefore can't prove that I did not want to. I'm actually more afraid of barely escaping alive which is pretty much the same thing. Sometimes I feel like i have proven that this is all not possible that I couldn't have actually wanted to but a strange thing has happened. I constant malaise feeling has bothered me since that event nearly 3 1/2 years back.. It is the same that the other poster described as a song being played over again (which I experienced before) but instead it is a feeling of being stuck that I have not actually finished proving the thoughts and therefore I am not comfortable. This discomfort has let to bad headaches, sometimes severe, and a general feeling of malaise as I mentioned above. I had these same feelings the days after I had the thought, except back then the headaches and discomfort was due to not being able to prove things and overthinking now i have given up on trying to prove anything but the thought still sticks in the back of my head. Headaches still persist, acid reflux it's constant. I've tried exercising four times a week at least 30 minute and nothing changed, I'm on zoloft 150m and things have definitely improved but i'm certain going up or trying anew drug won't change anything. That part about behavior therapy is right too, Although i'm sure it is more effective than the 10 drugs I took within a 4 month period it won't solve the problems I have. I no longer really care about the thoughts either, before I would avoid driving by the area where this happened(dallas) but I this year routinely drive past the place where I had the thought. I usually eat fast food and carbs to ease the pain and stop the headaches but they are a quick fix. Now food only occasionally stops things and recently i've felt that the discomfort is so high sometimes i can't go on. I want to go back to the times when I would wash my hands a lot or re read stuff, although I still have some traditional compulsions too. I know this might be tmi but i'm sure you'll understand the depths people have to go with ocd as you had it too, but sometimes the feeling is so bad that releasing high amounts of dopamine is necessary( excuse my lack of knowledge on this) In other words i have to do acts that release dopamine . I do this (celibate) to stop the constant feelings of pain. Sometimes I really hate it too but the discomfort won't stop and I don't know what to do. I feel brief decent comforts at times when i eat or release dopamine but it just get worse, i'm sure this could add to headaches but the pain is worse when i do nothing. I recall even before I started doing this( still after the thought on pills and cars) I would still experience the same discomfort I do now. I know this all might be too much but I feel desperate and hopeless. Talking to a psychiatrist won't help, my parents are preoccupied with my sister who has a job but is in 80,000 student debt, money is now talked about more and i got a job too help for 6 months this year(not working) but the obsession is so overwhelming I sometimes feel I can barely function. On top of that I still think about the year(junior) I failed all those classes and i'm embarrassed. It feels things are not worth it anymore I can only turn here out of a small feeling of hope but that is going away. I'm willing to overhaul my diet if it helps except for sugary soft drinks which i like and am addicted to although i will probably have to lower the consumption of that too from 4 to a lower amount eventually. As far as diet goes i'm willing to make a lot of changes as long as the food tastes somewhat good, sometimes I like high carb foods but if they don't help what's the point. The bread is all gmo anyway( eat a lot of chick fil a whataburger) and most of the food is correctly described artery clogging poison and I guess it has a brain effect. I don't like to believe artificial sweeteners are poison but their probably borderline anyway I can't stop drinking because sometimes consuming sugary drinks is when I feel best. my sister shops at whole foods and i go there sometimes so I should probably get more food but what types are the best for these problems, ocd? I'm willing to cut carbs out of my diet as they lack taste anyway, but i eat a lot of chicken( fried) so would I have to go grilled most of the time? Also fettucini and pastas are my favorite dishes but i could give it up and i don't eat bread(alone), cereal that much. I know you say caffeine effects neural impulses but it would be hard to give that up. Thank you for reading all through this or even parts because any help would be good. I will probably get a account here too as this is one of the unique stories I have read about ocd and it hits home.


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Melanie Gladney 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

There's a lot going on in your post, so I'm not sure where to begin, but in essence, your symptoms indicate reactive hypoglycemia which seems to be causing rather severe OCD symptoms. Remember, I am not a doctor and my advice is not intended to replace a doctor's advice and/or medical help. However, if you would like to try the diet I wrote of in my article, it has to be something you're willing to commit to. Giving up carbohydrates and sugar is difficult, but very effective for controlling OCD symptoms. The "consuming sugary drinks" is when you "feel best" because your body is pumping out adrenaline which produces a type of "high". When the adrenaline crashes, you feel awful again. Basic dietary guidelines for controlling insulin/blood sugar highs and lows are no more than 9 grams of carbs per meal or so. If you can't give up sugary drinks and high carbs, there will be no substantial abatement of reactive hypoglycemia and hence, anxiety/OCD. I know these things are hard to give up, but wouldn't it be worth it to feel better? Please continue to see your doctor and try the diet. There's nothing to lose except illness. I wish you good luck and good health.


Whatifweshine 3 years ago

Hey anonymous with the long post. I myself have struggled with primarily obsessive OCD and currently have anxiety and some ocd left, still very very rough but I got a lot better since I started taking zinc and vitamin b supplements a couple of days ago, also watch what I eat a lot. I know diet change can be difficult (everything can be max difficult for us with anxiety and mood disorders, hey...) and I would advise going easy on yourself if you don't feel you can muster the motivation to go 'cold turkey' (but do push yourself if you think you can!) just do a little bit at a time, just make your diet a little bit better each day. Take one less sip of that soft drink and leave the cap on for longer, stuff a few leaves of spinach (great for helping the body's production of serotonin I've read, has lots of the needed vitamins) in with whatever else you're eating, change one meal a day or even part of each meal to one of the things that are healthy can help and it can be easier if you just do things as a smooth transition. Also reading more online about foods and anxiety/ocd/depression can really help motivation, research it! I was astonished to learn that serotonin is produced from an amino acid and everything... I also really recommend doing what you can to exercise, take a walk, play a sport, jump up and down to loud music, it really helps and I get worse anxiety it if I haven't walked the dog or done a bit of vigorous movement in a day. When I do move it helps me get out of my stuck thoughts. Improve any area of your life that you can that you can feel better about, enjoy anything that you can if you can. I know that anxiety can turn anything bad and make anything seem impossible, just hang in there! I also hope you see a therapist of a sort or a good friend or family member whom you can be honest with about anything that's bothering you with caring and compassion for yourself. I wish you ALL the best and hope you find the answers, any answers you need. I know it can be incredibly frustrating. Good luck!!!


anonymous 3 years ago

thank you and the above poster for the response, I have been cutting down on carbs to about 40g a meal and trying to watch what I eat. Also eating hummu and other serotonin rich foods like spinach seems like a good idea too. Hopefully cutting down on carbs and exercising more will help. Thank you again for your response. Also my name is mo, and i'm 20, still pretty young. Anyway, thanks for advice.


Katrina Dinius profile image

Katrina Dinius 2 years ago from Carmel, Indiana

Interesting article. I've been hypoglycemic for years and thus eat frequent meals high in protein and low in simple carbs (eg almost no sugar, whole grain bread/pasta/rice). I also have IBS which again leads to more complex carbs in my diet. I have recently (past year or so) had repetitive movements though little in the way of obsessive thoughts, and my hypoglycemia has seemed a bit worse as well. I take birth control and Wellbutrin, along w/lots of vitamins. I had a food sensitivity panel run and I avoid those foods. I do have allergies (cats, dust mites). It seems I'm already doing several of your recommendations. I honestly don't see how I could eliminate gluten from my diet but wondered if you have any other suggestions for my combination of issues.


Stefan 2 years ago

Hy. I am facing this problem with intrusive thoughts for almost 3 years. 5 years ago i had a psihiatric crisis and i feared i would die( i didn't:) ) and thought that people around me are bad spirits that want to hurt me. This crisis began after a very disputed tennis match but i was depressed a long time before the problem occurred. I had been prescriebed olanzapine. 3 years ago i started a raw vegan diet and for the first 3 months i felt great but then the intrusive thoughts came. I was eating a lot of fruit , maybe it isn't a good idea as i read here and i noticed in my own experience that it has something to do with the intrusive thoughts. The bigger problem is that i work as a web programmer and i can't focus, am stressed and am low in energy. Maybe a diet with lower carbs and more omega 3 from flax and walnuts and spinach and protein could help and i will try to incorporate more of them. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you


Stefan 2 years ago

also i am not a raw vegan anymore, just vegan , have been eating lots of whole wheat bread, rice, small amounts of fruit, lentils , soy, small amounts of flax seeds, olives, coconut, salads, chickpeas....


Shea Carney 2 years ago

Those with PCOS have estrogen dominance and high androgen levels, not high levels of progesterone. PCOS sufferers are typically progesterone deficient as a result of the condition. Progesterone can be supplemented by those with PCOS. Interestingly, progesterone is being studied as a natural treatment for OCD, as women deficient in progesterone often have symptoms of

OCD.


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 2 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

If you reread my article, you'll notice that I never said that high levels of progesterone are a hallmark of PCOS. While PCOS is marked by androgen excess, it does not necessarily follow that this is due to estrogen dominance. Progesterone also acts as a natural depressant and in large doses can contribute to depression and OCD symptoms. Withdrawal from high doses of progesterone can trigger the same symptoms as stopping a prescription anti-anxiety medication.


Lisa Frazier 2 years ago

I would love to send you an email with some specific questions if you have one you wouldn't mind sharing. My struggles have been over the last 14 yrs after having a baby and have sought several forms of treatment


Vesi (Holland) 2 years ago

Thank you Melanie for this article. Really :)

It is great to read that someone got to the same conclusion (and a confirmation to what i have come to believe since i got pure o during my 2nd pregnancy, and been struggling ever since). Through a lot of self observation and analysis I have come to the conclusioin that the onset of OCD has (with me at least) more of a physiological triggers, rather then psychological. so currently working on that- finding what exaclty triggers it for me :)

all the best , be well

vesi


Joey 19 months ago

Hi Melanie,

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write this article and respond to everyone with questions and concerns. Your commitment to helping others with this disorder is very valiant and special. Keep up your research and amazing work. Now, if its not too much i would just like to get your input on my condition and give me an idea of what changes i can make in my diet to feel better. I am just a person who is struck by intrusive thoughts all the time. They come quite often and at very inoppurtune times. The main thought that really causes a struggle with me is "what's the point". I get this all the time after doing something good, such as catching a touchdown or helping a friend. I even get it to normal thoughts, such as "san francisco is a great place". I just get this persistent obsessive thought that really can disrupt my day. I just feel like im always in my head, overthinking and overanalyzing my thoughts and actions. I really cant stand it sometimes. I had been on prozac before and it felt like it was working, however not anymore. I still take the medicine. Days feel like a struggle more than ever before. Thank you for reading this and for reaching out to all those that you have helped. The world needs more like you


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 19 months ago from Pennsylvania Author

Joey, thank you for your compliments. I am happy to help. Without seeing an actual food journal from you, your symptoms sound like low serotonin and possibly flat glucose tolerance curve. If you can, try eliminating all sugar from your diet for a few days (this includes fruit, too) and eat ONLY protein, fats, and veggies. Drink only water or veggie juice that you make yourself. See how this makes you feel. Food sensitivities to wheat, dairy, corn, soy, sugar, and eggs can create issues such as lack of motivation or enthusiasm and general depression. Likewise, hypoglycemia caused by hypersecretion of insulin after you eat carbohydrates causes a host of mental issues such as depression and anxiety. Lastly, I've always thought that SSRI's such as Prozac only help in the short term b/c they wear out your body's own stores of neurotransmitters. I don't recommend quitting the Prozac as I am not intended to replace your doctor. I DO recommend changing your diet to the one I suggested, though. Let me know you do. Peace and good health.


Andy 18 months ago

Hi Melanie, I have been suffering with pure O for sometime, and doctors found out some time ago that I am extremely deficient in vitamin D. Is this perhaps a major cause of the intrusive thoughts from pure O?


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 18 months ago from Pennsylvania Author

Vitamin D is actually a hormone and does play an in important role in the levels of your other hormones. I hesitate, however, to say that Vitamin D deficiency is the sole reason for pure O. It is likely a contributing factor, but I would lean more so towards low serotonin and fluctuating blood sugar levels/food sensitivities. By all means, supplement with D3, and pay close attention to how severe your pure O is after carb ingestion.


James 17 months ago

Hi Melanie, I'm 19 and currently in university. Towards the end of my first year I believe I started suffering from 'Pure O', stemming from HOCD and then various horrible obsessions over the summer. Towards the end of the summer I was preoccupied a lot with friends and family and felt more in control of my thoughts and felt my life was going back to normal. This being said I did sometimes obsess over the smallest irrational things which would engulf me with anxiety but I'd learnt to relax myself more when it happened. Before I started university again, I was looking at options to move because my first year wasn't the social university experience I'd have hoped and due to several reasons, I wasn't able to move. Going back to the same university felt dire, meeting the same people (who are great people, but not as close as the friends I reunited with over the summer) and the fear of the HOCD which started at university returning. Into the first two days on university, a dire night out, feeling of depression of being back got to me a bit and new but unexciting flatmates wound me up a bit, and I started to notice that right before I went bed or felt tired at late times I would hear the melody (ironically the song is called melody) of a song constantly, and made me wake up earlier then I would've. One morning, I woke up to find a university that I wanted to move to rejected my application and I was clearly upset. However, what worse started to happen that the music started to play in my head constantly and I wasn't able to make it stop. This was literally Monday from this week, and I can't bear with it and it's only been a few days. The music stems from songs or instrumentals in my memory and repeats the same melody until it becomes tormenting which I have to stick another song in there, or it can be something I hear externally. I have trouble getting to sleep due to the songs, and when I do I always wake up at an unsual time with the different song in my head, until I force myself back to sleep and wake up again with a song in my head. If I am in deep conversation, listening to music externally or immersing myself in an activity, I do not hear the music. But when I am not doing anything or minding my own business it is there. I can't put my finger on what has caused this all of a sudden, but after seeing a 'Broken Record Syndrome' forum, I believe it is linked to the OCD I had developed over the summer. I haven't consulted a doctor about any of my OCD problems because I've been scared they'll prescribe me meds, but this new phenomenon is driving me insane and I am close in making an appointment soon. I do also believe this could be heavily linked to my diet as of lately and generally as mentioned in your post. As my diet during my first year was incredibly horrible with junk food everyday causing me to suffer from several illnesses. And a lot of junk food as on recently, with barely any fruits and vegetables in my system. I believe what I suffer could be a hormonal/Chemical Imbalance of some sort and would like to know your view on what I should do. (Sorry for the really long post, this is as detailed as I could be).


Anonymous 13 months ago

My OCD started right out of the gate. In my earliest memories I am battling with it severely. OCD was extremely disruptive and agonizing. I have always been aware that it was something but in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s awareness of OCD in the public was zilch. I kept my disorder a secret for fear and shame. An agonizing, debilitating, awful secret. I was very hypervigilant in changes, fluctuations, and reactions of my body and my inner world. My obsession with ending what was happening then in my mind is my lifes purpose. I am blessed to have been born into the disorder and blessed that it was so severe. All of the years mulling and agonizing in private were in the end necessary for my evolution and invaluable insight into the disorder. Self behavioral therapy ended the anxieties. Self regulated elimination diet ended the noise. I am allergic to all the synthetic crap found in vitamin supplements. My allergy presents its self as mind noise, intrusive thoughts, and panic. The anxiety came secondary and developed in response to the mind noise, intrusive thoughts, and ill feeling panic. These synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals are found in everything you buy from the grocery store. The FDA pushes them and insists on their necessity for well-being. Vitamin supplements of this kind are made in a labrotory. They do not metabolize in the body the same way as authentic nutrients would. Consuming these synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals is the same as filling your gas tank with water instead of gas. Try eliminating vitamin supplements from your diet. I started with a vegetarian diet and moved to a raw vegan diet I now eat whatever I have a mood for but avoid foods with high in synthetic vitamin especially Folic Acid. If I consume 400mg of Folic Acid it is almost immediately apparent and I need to isolate myself and drink lots of water until the panicing and intrusive thoughts and mind noise pass. Best of luck to you all.


Hey-hey 13 months ago

Hello,

first of all, well done on this post! I am so glad to read this, I have been suffering from OCD for years and have been trying to do what you have done: that is, try and find the cause of this disorder. My OCD is centred on obsessive inappropriate thoughts. I also have different compulsions. It affects me quite badly in school and in life in general. What would you recommend?


Diana 9 months ago

Hello! Thank you so much for this article!!! I always knew hormones and OCD were related. Here's my situation. I had my first Pure O OCD attack when I was 24. At that time, I was super heavy and my hormones were changing. I had gone through a bad breakup, unemployed and trying to finish school. Stress was my best friend!!! I was depressed first and then OCD hit bad. Fast forward 4 years later, and they found a HUGE uterine fibroid in my uterus. It weighed 8lbs!!! Fast forward two more years to this year (feb. 2016) I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer :( My thyroid was removed about 2 months ago. OCD and Pure O have gotten stronger. I'm so lost because I don't know what to supplement with and doctors tell me hormones don't play a role in this, when clearly they do. I did want to meantion I'm also vegetarian and consume much soy products. Do you think that my being vegan/veg may have triggered all of this? My mom suffered from breast cancer due to high estrogen. I'm almost sure I'm estrogen dominant, but I haven't gotten tested because doctors don't do it!!!wgen I have gotten checked they say I'm fine. I need to go to a natropath soon, but I need to find a good one. I also had my gall bladder removed when I was 19. I feel that also had a huge effect on all of this. Any suggestions or advice? I don't want to take stronger meds, which I may have to. I'm currently on Buspar 30mg. Thank you!!!


Melanie Gladney profile image

Melanie Gladney 9 months ago from Pennsylvania Author

DIM is helpful for ridding the body of excessive estrogen, as is taking Vitex (chasteberry). Supplementation with natural progesterone cream can also curtail estrogen effects. Try to avoid soy, if you can, and focus on organic vegetables, fruits, lean protein (especially fish, as Omega-3 also lessens the estrogen effect), eliminate dairy and red meat whenever possible. Try to keep carb levels at 10g or less per meal. Please let me know how you do.

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