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Drugs for OCD usually relieve symptoms, but don't eliminate them. Alternatives for OCD don't eliminate the problem, either, but they often make it a lot easier to live with. Here are some treatments that help:

  • Mindfulness meditation. This very popular self-help technique actually limit the symptoms of OCD, but it does not make as much of a difference as other self-help practices.
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids from plant sources, such as borage seed oil. Researchers at the University of Melbourne (Australia) found that taking borage seed oil or milk thistle capsules was almost as helpful as yoga. These herbal supplements are inexpensive, safe to use with medications, and available almost everywhere.
  • N-acetyl cysteine. More often recommended for people who suffer asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), many people find it helps OCD symptoms, too.
  • Electroacupuncture. This updated version of acupuncture helps, but it has to be performed by a knowledgeable professional. Perhaps because sessions are usually 1-2 weeks apart, it is not as helpful as other techniques mentioned here.
  • Meridian tapping. This version of acupressure often helps break the cycle of OCD, at least for an hour or two. You need to learn it from an acupuncturist.
  • "Movement decoupling," which is learned from a therapist, is helpful for people who compulsively twist their hair or bite their nails.
  • Making sure you get enough protein in your diet (to provide the amino acid glycine) also helps relieve symptoms.
  • Caffeine. Often doctors prescribe a combination of an antidepressant and a mild dosage of an amphetamine to treat OCD. When the amphetamine does not work, often caffeine does. Something as simple as drinking a cup of coffee every morning and a cup of tea in the afternoon may help. Only about 60% of people who have OCD respond to caffeine, but it's inexpensive, legal, and easy to obtain, and may be worth a try.
  • Sunlight and sun lamps. Sometimes one of the underlying problems in OCD is not getting to sleep at the right time. The brain doesn't get a cue to be active and vigilant during the day and to go into sleep mode at night. Getting outdoors in bright sunlight, or, if you live in a climate where that's not possible all year round, spending half an hour under a sun lamp every morning before 9 am can make a difference in the severity of symptoms.
  • St. John's wort. The herbal remedy for depression tends to work better, and with fewer side effects, than standard prescription SSRI antidepressants. However, you can't take both St. John's wort and prescription antidepressants at the same time, and taking a product than delivers less than 900 mg of hypericin (usually in three doses of 300 mg each) won't work. Combining St. John's wort and prescription antidepressants can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome, which can induce headache and high blood pressure, and sometimes short-term psychotic reactions.
  • Yoga. The kind of yoga that has been clinically tested as a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder is kundalini meditation yoga. It usually takes about a year to make a difference, but doing yoga can greatly improve OCD. It also helps mood and even helps people find purpose in life, although it's not a cure-all for any mental health condition.

Homeopathy may also help, but you will need to work with a professional to choose the right remedy.

All of these alternatives for OCD help. Some of them help a little. Some of them help a lot. But you don't have to depend on any single method for relief. Do what comes naturally, giving as many methods as you can a try, and you will gain control over your condition with time.

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