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Are there any holistic methods that can help with OCD

07 Jan
A worried husband asks (with a measure of skepticism) if there are any holistic methods that can help his wife with her obsessive compulsive symptoms (OCD), which she’s had since at least 1953..
Dear Belleruth,
My wife has had OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) since at least 1953, along with deep depression. Though she will be in a program at UCLA and is under doctor''s care, and I don''t expect immediate "cures," is there anything else that might be helpful for her? And, honestly, I''m not all that hopeful about holistic medicine, but I feel we have to try all avenues.
Thank you.
Jose M.

Dear Jose,
I suspect that some segments of the program your wife will be participating in at UCLA will provide selected mind-body training, along with medication (probably from the class of drugs called SSRI’s, such as Zoloft, Prozac, etc), cognitive-behavioral techniques, psycho-education and possibly group support - all of which can be extremely helpful over time. You are wise to gear yourself not to expect a "silver bullet" that yields an instant cure - lasting positive changes tend to be incremental over time, not quick fixes.

If the UCLA program is very cutting edge, you can even expect to find one or more of the "Alphabet Therapies" - EMDR, EFT, SE or PET, to name a few, along with the other tools. These are imagery-based short-term methods that can be very helpful in alleviating some of your wife’s symptoms, particularly if her OCD is the result of traumatic stress.

The truth is, any sort of mind-body self-regulation tool - guided imagery, meditation, breathwork, self-hypnosis - is going to help your wife manage and contain her anxiety, and this will modulate her OCD as well. The best approach is multi-modal, using many of these methods, and attacking the condition from many angles. Unless something extraordinary happens, it’s safe to say that you can expect to see some improvement in the near future, and it should continue to get better over time. It''s possible your wife will be quite improved, and maybe even symptom free.

One warning: This will create some major changes in your relationship if she''s been suffering from this for 50 years. You are to be commended for being such a supportive and involved spouse, but some phases of her treatment might require that you step back and let her do the heavy lifting without your help. Your job will be to adjust to the changes - a significant challenge in and of itself. Even if the changes are long hoped for, positive ones, they will still take some getting used to!

My best wishes to you both.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award