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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 

As the fourth most common psychiatric illness in the United States, OCD onset typically occurs by adolescence or youth, usually between the ages of 10-24, with one-quarter of all cases appearing before age 14 and two-thirds occurring before age 25 (1,2). Despite its prevalence, it is often underdiagnosed and undertreated with patients having full symptoms for 11 years on average before diagnosis (3). Gender has minimal influences on susceptibility, with males being more frequently diagnosed in childhood, but females diagnosed more often in adolescence and adulthood (4).

Psychotropic medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), clomipramine (Anafranil), and cognitive behavioral therapy are the conventional treatment options for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sadly, first-line treatment of OCD does not benefit 40-60% of individuals, leading to significant morbidity (5). Inadequate treatment and limited biomedical options contribute to the high relapse rate as conventional medicine does not address underlying nutritional deficiencies or the condition's root cause.

Although unlikely to be caused by deficiencies alone, addressing nutrient deficits is a critical aspect of treating OCD since certain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids significantly impact serotonin neurotransmission. Specifically, natural therapies, including 5-HTP, niacin (B3), pyridoxal-5-phosphate (B6), folate (5-MTHF), vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, inositol, and taurine, are important for serotonin synthesis and overall function. Therefore, the combination of the aforementioned nutrients taken in therapeutic dosages should be part of a functional health approach for OCD. 

A prisoner to their own thoughts, OCD sufferers are frustrated and searching for alternative treatment options. The complex etiology of OCD includes genetics, inflammation, and the dysfunction of serotonin synthesis. While SSRIs may help, a number of individuals with OCD do not experience long-term results. Thus, identifying key nutrient depletions and replenishing them through dietary modification and supplementation is essential to increasing the chances of long-term recovery.


  1. Veale D, Roberts A. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. BMJ. 2014;348:g2183. Published 2014 Apr 7.

  2. Solmi M, Radua J, Olivola M, et al. Age at onset of mental disorders worldwide: large-scale meta-analysis of 192 epidemiological studies [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jun 2]. Mol Psychiatry. 2021;10.1038/s41380-021-01161-7.

  3. Fenske JN, Schwenk TL. Obsessive compulsive disorder: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80(3):239-245.

  4. Mathes BM, Morabito DM, Schmidt NB. Epidemiological and Clinical Gender Differences in OCD. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019;21(5):36. Published 2019 Apr 23.

  5. Pallanti S, Quercioli L. Treatment-refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder: methodological issues, operational definitions and therapeutic lines. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2006;30(3):400-412.

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