Chiropractic Care for OCD
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a psychological disorder that affects many people. It can be extremely debilitating and affect a patient’s lifestyle, work, and relationships. Traditional medical treatments include pills and psychotherapy. This is a difficult disorder to treat; however, chiropractic care may provide adjunct or alternative therapy that can be free of the side-effects of medical options.
What is OCD?
In Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, patients have persistent thoughts that do not go away, and this leads them to perform certain actions or rituals to calm those thoughts. The actions only temporarily provide relief, and not performing them causes anxiety. 20% of people with OCD also have tics, which are related to Tourette Syndrome.1 Those suffering from the anxiety disorder of OCD can engage in behaviors such as excessive cleaning or hand washing, obsession with thoughts about sex, violence, or religion, and activities such as hoarding, checking, number aversion, or certain rituals that are time-consuming (and sometimes harmful to finances or relationships).2 The causes are generally still unknown to the medical community, although there are biological factors that may be involved, such as low serotonin (a neurotransmitter in the brain). Some even say streptococcus bacteria can lead to this disorder in children. Environmental stressors are also suspected, such as abuse, illness, major life events, and relationship difficulties.3
Traditional Treatments for OCD
Typical medical treatments include psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive behaviors therapy “teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting”. To reduce the compulsive behaviors, “exposure and response prevention” therapy can be helpful. In terms of medications, doctors usually prescribe anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs. Anti-anxiety medications shouldn’t be taken long-term. Antidepressants take longer to work (weeks to months), and they have side effects (such as nausea, headache, and sleep troubles), but they tend to be more effective than anti-anxiety medications.4
Chiropractic is involved in prevention of disease and the overall wellness of a patient’s health. It aims to holistically treat patients without the side-effects of traditional medications. Some feel that abnormalities in the spine are related to the nervous system and the brain. Some researchers believe that these abnormalities can be related to Tourette’s and OCD.5 There are some who specialize in Chiropractic Neurology, and these chiropractors treat a variety of disorders, including OCD. These specialists feel that since the brain controls all body systems, and because the body is interconnected, problems in other parts of the body can affect the brain.6 Health systems of the body shouldn’t be treated as isolated. “The human nervous system is essentially the master system to all other human functions.”7