Stress and the Development of OCD

Stress and The Development of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


OCD is believed to be caused by a misfiring in the information processing area of the brain. This area is known as the basal ganglia. OCD can lay dormant and can trigger when a person is stressed. In our experience of treating clients with OCD the majority of clients have said that their OCD first began following a period of stress. People with OCD tend to be more emotionally sensitive than others.

Stress heightens ones level of arousal. So that under stress the intensity of ones emotions become heightened. Sufferers often fear the intensity of the anxiety that they feel as well as fearing the intensity of the worry itself. OCD tends to be psychosomatic, although not caused by stress, but it can be triggered by stress.

One way that a sufferer can reduce the intensity of their heightened level of arousal, is by doing some progressive muscular relaxation. If your body is relaxed it signals to the brain that adrenalin is not needed. Taking time for oneself to relax is not a luxury for sufferers of OCD but a necessity.

There are many good videos on you tube on progressive muscular relaxation. Relaxation will not cure OCD but it will help you to bring your heightened level of arousal down and reduce the intensity of the anxiety and worry. We educate our clients about the stress response and the connection of OCD and stress. Knowledge is power. As a result of the intensity of ones feelings the worry that one experiences with OCD sufferers develop an irrational core belief. We help our clients to challenge their irrational core beliefs using cognitive and behavioral therapy as well as teaching our clients how to rewire the brain  and fixed the firing of the sticky mental gear shift within the informational processing area within the brain.

Nutrition and anxiety related disorders

Foods that can be beneficial for people suffering from Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 


Whole Grain Foods

Those that can tolerate gluten may benefit from foods with whole grains, like whole grain pasta and bread. Studies have shown that true whole grains (some “whole grain foods” still contain processed ingredients) have several benefits for those with anxiety:

  • Whole grain is rich in magnesium, and magnesium deficiency may lead to anxiety.
  • Whole grain contains tryptophan, which becomes serotonin – a calming neurotransmitter.
  • Whole grains create healthy energy while reducing hunger – both important for anxiety.

Whole grain foods can have a powerful effect on anxiety, and contain nutrients that have been stripped out of modern day diets.


Seaweed has many of the same benefits as whole grains. Not only is it rich in nutrients – it also appears to have a high magnesium content, and kelp and other seaweed appear to be very high in tryptophan content. Seaweed is a good alternative to whole grains for those that are gluten sensitive.


Blueberries are more than a delicious fruit. Many consider it to be a superfood. It’s rich in vitamins and phytonutrients (plant nutrients), with a variety of antioxidants that are considered extremely beneficial for relieving stress. Many experts also believe that peaches fall into this category as well, because they have nutrients that appear to have a sedation (calming) effect.

Acai Berries

Acai berry is essentially the newest super food, and one that has received a great deal of press recently. It may not be the weight loss fruit that many people claimed it was, but acai berries are still rich in phytonutrients like the blueberry, and the antioxidant levels are off the charts.


Almonds are an underrated food. They contain zinc, a key nutrient for maintaining a balanced mood – and have both iron and healthy fats. Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet, and low iron levels have been known to cause brain fatigue, which can contribute to both anxiety and a lack of energy.


Chocolate – especially pure dark chocolate without the added sugars or milks – is also a great food for those living with anxiety and stress. Chocolate reduces cortisol – the stress hormone that causes anxiety symptoms. There are also compounds inside dark chocolate that improve mood.

Maca Root

Maca root is not exactly a popular food item in grocery stores, but the powder can be added to several foods and beverages and is found in a variety of health food stores. It’s believed that this root has more phytonutrients than nearly every type of fruit and vegetable, including magnesium and iron – two important nutrients for controlling anxiety. It also is often used for healthy stamina and energy.

Other Foods for Anxiety and Stress

Healthy eating is one of the best ways to control anxiety and stress. In fact, one of the best things you can add to your diet is more water. Many studies have found that dehydration affects as many as 25% of those with persistent stress or more, and dehydration is known to cause more anxiety.

As for foods, anything with magnesium, vitamin B12 (and other B vitamins), zinc, and antioxidants can be beneficial for helping you deal with stress. There are also herbal supplements like kava and passionflower that may be valuable for anxiety.

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy for OCD

Exposure response prevention known as ERP is a crucial element for successful treatment for OCD. The purpose of exposure work is to disprove the clients irrational core beliefs and in turn help our clients to face and overcome their irrational fears.

OCD is very habitual by nature. A person suffering with OCD has developed an irrational core belief born from their heightened emotional sensitivity and brain lock working together. When treating clients who suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) it is very important that a persons core belief is identified and challenged. The purpose behind ERP is to help disprove the clients irrational core belief. This is done by gradually exposing someone to their fears in a safe controlled environment. We help our clients to face and embrace the feeling of anxiety that comes up for them without doing their safety seeking behavior. Anxiety peaks and then drops. This is the natural process of the energy system of the body. When sufferers do a compulsions it is usually to try to relieve the anxiety and worry that they experience. Of course the relief is only short lived. The cycle of Thought feeling and behavior starts again once there has been a trigger.

We help to break the cycle that clients are trapped in. In our experience working intensively is by far the most effective way of working with OCD.

It is very difficult for an OCD sufferer to do ERP by themselves due to the intensity of their emotions and the misfiring of the error detection circuit within the brain.

The rational brain becomes dimer when the fight & flight response has been triggered. This is why it is not possible to rationalize with OCD.

Sufferers know on one level that their fears and behaviors are not rational but their emotional brain is the stronger of the 2 hemispheres. You need to have exercises to strengthen the left hemisphere which is where mindfulness has it place within treatment for OCD.

Our Intensive courses address everything that one needs to become well and to be free from the chains of OCD.

Holistic Types of Therapy for OCD

Floatation session for pure relaxation


The benefits of floatation for stress and anxiety. 

The deep relaxation state achieved allows the body to recover from stress. Pain is relieved.  Blood flow is stimulated through all the tissues, natural endorphins are released, the brain gives out alpha waves associated with relaxation and meditation.  It feels good.

Usually it takes perhaps fifteen minutes to enter the first deep stage of relaxation, and the remaining 45 minutes of a typical hour-long session seem to pass quickly and effortlessly.  The benefits begin during this stage but continue after yo u leave the tank and for the rest of the day, and the next day, your body and mind feel refreshed.


Medical benefits of floatation therapy

The use of flotation therapy has a number of medical benefits. In the gravity free floating environment the body balances and heals internally as all the senses are rested. Research shows that floating and flotation therapy measurably reduce bloody pressure and heart rate whilst lowering the levels of stress related chemicals in the body. Old injuries and aches, (especially backache) experience relief as floating helps blood circulation.

This is one more medical reason that explains a sense of balance and well being in the floating patient’s everyday life when using floatation tanks. Recent medical flotation research has shown more and more the importance of having a good balance of activity between the two cerebral hemispheres to guarantee a better state of physical, mental, and emotional health.