Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) means multiple repetition of a particular behaviour. For example, repeatedly washing hands, repeatedly checking if the door is locked, repeatedly checking if the car is locked properly etc.
What is OCD?
Under normal circumstances, we all, once in a while wash our hands twice to make sure it is cleaned, check if the car is locked properly etc. But we may wash or check once or twice. In Obsessive compulsive disorder, the patient checks it, say, 10 times or washes his hands 10 times. He is obsessed with cleaning and double-checking.
Many a time, the patient is aware that his repetitive behaviour is wrong and needs correction but he or she cannot control it. In some cases, patient denies his repetitive behaviour.
Obsessive behaviour is not just limited to washing and checking. It also encompasses super-perfection in working, super-neat and clean, like, setting the objects in the home at their positions repeatedly. Some people with OCD do not throw waste things into dust bin. They will keep those things at home, fearing curse, even after that thing has become redundant.
OCD in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, it is grossly correlated with a condition called Atatwa Abhinivesha. ‘Atatwa’ means ‘non-existent’, abhinivesha means ‘stubborn’ nature or ‘strict adherence’. So Atatwabhinivesha collectively refers as a ‘condition where the person believes in all the factors which does not exist or which are in fact not correct’. Or every time the individual will be in confusion to accept the truth.
Reasons for Atatwabhinivesha, as explained in Ayurveda:
1. Intake of polluted food and beverages
2. Suppression of natural urges
3. Excess intake of cold and warm, unctuous and dry eatables irrespective of combinations
4. Grief, stress, jealousy, depression etc.
5. Inferiority and shameful situations
6. Fearful situations
7. Dissatisfaction in life etc
Origin of the disease Atatwabhinivesha (obsessive disorders)
Due to the above said causative factors Doshas, especially Vata is aggravated. Meanwhile in the individuals with poor mental ability, these vitiated Doshas encircle the Rajas and Tamas. Further it makes Hridaya (Heart) as its main seat of affliction and vitiates Manas (Mind) and Buddhi (Intellect). Due to such a mis-harmony among the Doshas and the Rajas and Tamas individual’s mind gets weakened. Thus the person looses the ability to recognise good and bad, wholesome and unwholesome, truth and myth etc. If this confusion persists for long, it becomes a routine practice. Thus the condition of obsession – perception of something wrong as correct and true as false will remain throughout.
OCD Ayurvedic treatment
Line of treatment of obsessive disorder:
1. Avoidance of the causative factors
2. Intake of wholesome food and habits
3. Assurance and education – confidence building exercises and counselings are helpful.
4. Mindful meditation, Yoga, Pranayama are very useful to discipline the mind.
4. Purification and pacification remedies have greater contribution.
Methods of counselling:
The patient is made to wash hands only once and made to believe that it is clean.
The patient is made to put the wastes such as old news papers to dustbin.
The patient is exposed to his fears / sinful thoughts and is comforted that it is fine.
Panchakarma treatment: Purification procedures:
The morbidity of mind is related with morbidity of body. For example, you feel fresh and energetic after taking a bath. Your concentration levels will be more when your stomach is light. Purification of body with Panchakarma treatment leads to clarity of mind.
After determining the dominant Dosha, appropriate Panchakarma purification procedures are undertaken, like Vamana (emesis), Virechana (purgation), Nasya (errhines), Basti (enema) etc.
By assessing the feasibility and convenience, oil procedures to calm mind such as Shirodhara, Shirobasti are also conducted.
Internal medication useful in obsessive disorders
Because it is a psychiatric condition, medicines used in the treatment of depression and psychosis are used in the Ayurvedic treatment of OCD.
Brahma Rasayana– Acts as rejuvenative, strengthens the body as well as mind.
Panchagavya Ghrita– Due to the lipophilic nature of medicated ghee it crosses blood brain barrier and exhibits its qualities even over the brain cells.
Mahapanchagavya ghrita – used in the treatment of epilepsy, fistula, inflammation, piles, liver diseases, anaemia, cough, OCD, psychiatric conditions.
Brahmi Ghrita – Potent drug to soothes the mind. A drug of choice to boost the mind and intellect.
Vacha Choorna – Stimulant of brain cells and a memory enhancer.
Saraswata Choorna – Soothes the mind, rejuvenates the nerves and arteries.
Saraswatarishta– Promotes the intellect and enhances the memory.
Mansyadi Kashaya – Tranquilizes the mind, useful in treating depression related OCD
Brahmi Vati – Memory tonic,calms down the mind and energiser due to its bitter principles.
Manasamitra vatakam – useful in cases of depression and psychosis related OCD
Tips for prevention
Tips for preventing obsessive compulsive disorder:
Wake up early, go to bed early, sleep for at least 7- 8 hours at night. A calm mind relieves anxiety and restlessness.
Practice Pranayama for at least 3 minutes a day. Here is a simple Pranayama technique.
Stop smoking and alcohol consumption
Stop any kind of narcotic drugs
If you have anxiety, follow these anxiety relieving tips
If you think you have depression follow these tips
Read more OCD related advice
Join a OCD support group and share your problems with others. Read about how other people got rid of their problems. This boosts your confidence. There are many such meetup groups in different countries. Find out the one from your place.
Useful book –
Brain Lock – by Jeffrey M. Schwartz has many good reviews.
A note to care-taker:
If the patient is admitting that he has the problem and improvising, then encourage him in the right direction.
Do not scold the patient. You can make gentle jokes on his behaviour in front of her, when no one is around. This will make the patient disgusted with her repetitive behaviour and may encourage her to stop it.
When to contact doctor?
If the patient is not admitting about his repetitive behaviour.
If the patient cannot control his repetitive behaviour even after trying with full heart.
If the patient has associated symptoms of anxiety, depression or schizophrenia (irrelevant talk, anger, talking to himself etc).
In this competitive era, due to busy life, the people are very much tired after their heavy and targeted works. Stressful life, jealousy, grief, dissatisfaction are the factors which push one towards obsessive disorders. Confidence, withstanding ability, moral support, ethics etc. are the boosting factors which prevent us from psychological stress and strain.