Omega-3 For Harm OCD
As there’s a buzz about Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids being able to help depression, regulate mood, relieve stress, aid concentration, enhance energy levels, amongst other things, it seems appropriate here to consider what it can do for Harm OCD.
Omega 3 fatty acids are fats commonly found in marine and plant oils, and are what are considered essential fatty acids, meaning that they cannot be synthesized by the human body but are vital for normal metabolism. In simple speak: they are necessary for human health but the body can’t make them – i.e. you must get them from food.
These fatty acids, also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids, are said to be one of the ‘good’ fats, in that they are thought to lower blood pressure and aid circulation by naturally thinning the blood, aid your heart’s health, combat LDL (bad) cholesterol, fight inflammation and protect the brain and nervous system. They are also said to play a crucial role in the normal growth and development of your body.
Signs of Omega-3 deficiency:
Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, excessive thirst, frequent urination, dry skin, dry, dull or ‘lifeless’ hair, dandruff, and soft or brittle nails, raised bumps on the skin are particularly characteristic (This is called ‘follicular keratosis’ as it results from a build-up of hard, dry skin around the hair follicles), heart problems, inflammatory health problems, water retention, tingling in the arms and legs, poor circulation, high blood pressure or high triglycerides (fat in the blood), struggle to lose weight, proneness to infections, mood swings, excessive anxiety, depression.
Also, it is a reported fact, that infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems.
Many other features or clinical signs can sometimes reflect deficiencies or imbalances of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids, including allergic or ‘atopic’ tendencies (such as eczema, asthma, hayfever etc.) visual symptoms (such as poor night vision, sensitivity to bright light, or visual disturbances – i.e. when reading letters and words may appear to move, swim or blur on the page – attention problems (easily distracted, poor concentration and difficulties in working memory), problems sleeping.
A Worthwhile Review
Of course, any of these signs can have other causes, so we should never assume that fatty acid deficiencies are always the cause, and this is particularly so in the case of Harm OCD where so much of the stress and worry we experience is behaviourally based and offshoot of misguided, fearful perceptions and long-standing unease.
Nonetheless, as we’ve noted that fatty acids are considered essential for human health, it would seem well worth your time to review what you can do on a nutritional level to improve your intake of this seemingly vital substance.
What follows is a list of good sources of omega-3 fatty acids for you to peruse. Just a couple of things before you read it, however. First you should note a high intake of saturated fats and damaged polyunsaturated fats, known as “trans fats”, in your diet will prevent your body from making good use of the all the essential fats you consume in a day. So beware of the “trans”. Secondly, take with protein any oil based omega-3 supplements to avoid stressing your liver.
Good Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Kidney beans, navy beans, tofu, winter and summer squash, certain berries such as raspberries and strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, romaine lettuce, and collard greens. Oils including Soya Bean Oil, Canola Oil, Rapeseed Oil, Linseed/Flaxseed Oil. Nuts such as Walnuts, Brazil nuts, Hazelnuts, pecans. Wheat germ and beef and poultry and eggs are also good sources of omega-3s.
Seafood, particularly oil-rich fish such as found in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, and herring, are also great sources. These fish, for example, all contain a combination of long-chain (i.e. polyunsaturated fats: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and it is these acids that are thought to confer special health benefits that are not seen with oils, nuts and seeds.
DR. Edmond O`Flaherty – Exponent of Omega-3
The following article by Dr. Edmond O’ Flaherty consists of some fairly encouraging accounts of how Omega-3 fatty acids have helped some of his OCD patients. Here’s a snippet for you:
“I read in the May 99 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry that a small group of unstable bipolar patients showed a good response to omega-3 fatty acids. One of my bipolar patients had intractable Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She worried about Aids all the time although her risks were negligible and her tests were negative. She was on lithium, olanzepine 10mg daily and fluoxetine 80mg daily. I added omega-3 fish oil and within a few days her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was well under control. Three other changes of note occurred too. She was a 30 per day smoker and yet within 2 weeks she stopped smoking. She became relaxed and her sleeping pattern became very good. Three years later she has no significant Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (except when she stops taking the fish oil, as she did twice), can have a relationship without any AIDS worries but continues to take her omega-3 at about 5g daily.”
You can read the rest of the article here: Omega-3, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
But where dubiety lies…
Of course, there’s always going to be an alternative view:
“A study published in the May/June 2004 issue of the “Journal of Psychiatric Research” examined the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, on patients suffering from OCD. Unfortunately, the results of this study did not find any benefit of EPA supplementation on OCD symptoms. A clinical review, published in 2007 in the journal “Lipids in Health and Disease,” suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety, although the available research is inconclusive. Due to the lack of evidence, it is unclear as to whether omega-3 fatty acids have a beneficial effect on symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Read more:
Conclusion: so who’s right?
Well, as elsewhere on this site we concur with the view espoused by Charles Linden that: “OCD is actually a SYMPTOM of their underlying anxiety and NOT a stand alone disorder. OCD cannot exist without underlying anxiety and it is this which fuels the disorder”, we’re inclined to align with the view that Omega-3 fatty acids are indeed helpful for Harm OCD – because if you’re suffering from Harm OCD, you are anxiety racked! That is, until you start learning about it, and you begin to do what is needed to fully recover.
Large part of this website’s purpose is to spotlight hindrance to recovery from Harm OCD, as well as point out what we think is of use, so ultimately you gain full lucidity to the factors involved in letting “this” go.
Therefore we would have you look out for such phrases as: “helps reduce anxiety”, “helps reduce tension”, “helps you relax” etc. and suggest that anything that “helps you do so” is well worth your interest, even if there isn’t a wealth of demonstrative data pertaining advantage for cure from Harm OCD. Fact is, if we’re experiencing to varying degrees of intensity anxiety and harming obsessions our nervous system is in need of renewal. Therefore a two-pronged approach to making this happen is what we espouse: i.e. appropriate action to heal and calm the body so as to lessen on a physiological level the effects of our harming obsessions; and on a psychological level the introduction of new habits of being in order to become less sitting duck to intense reactions and the adrenaline factor caused by fighting against our unfortunate thoughts – thus reducing the physiological effects of our Harm OCD.
As Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function, and are reported to help nourish the myelin nerve sheathing, which is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system, we would say as a form of “nutritional intervention”, they should be included as part of your recovery plan – particularly when you consider the above signs of their lack.
Health gains are health gains after all, and should you first see improvement in some other area of your life then this is all to the good, and something is shifting.
Remember, your nerves are on the fast track, the impetus is with your adrenaline’s flow. It’s stopping is gradual: our parasympathetic nervous system, the half of our autonomic nervous system responsible for slowing down the body, weakened by repeated strain, isn’t quite working. So we have to help it. Omega-3 fatty acids can lend you a hand.
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Interestingly the aforementioned Dr. Edmond O’Flaherty wrote this review:
“I first became interested in omega-3 when I read Andrew Stoll`s article in Archives of General Psychiatry in May 99. I tried it on a patient with bipolar disorder who had intractable OCD-she worried about Aids all day long. In just a few days her OCD improved dramatically,she stopped smoking,slept well and became quite relaxed. I then read everything I could find on the subject and found Donald Rudin an interesting writer. I was delighted to see Dr Stoll had written this book and have read it a few times. I have enjoyed it more than most novels and it has been very helpful to many of my patients. I have found omega-3 useful too for several other indications,including agoraphobia,alcoholism,drug abuse,sexual abuse,schizophrenia,anxiety,depression,insomnia and withdrawal from benzodiazepines. It has opened a whole new world for me in the treatment of mental illness. Because I have been interviewed on Irish radio many people here take omega-3 and find it takes the edge off the stress of everyday living.”
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