Foods to help with Anxiety/OCD, potentislly annihilating the need for medication?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 12, 2013 at 11:16 PM

I've had OCD since I can remember, and I've been on medication [Citalopram, 20mg, going onto 40mg] for the last year or so. I really hate having to take medication to help my condition and am looking for alternative ways t help it.

I've heard that Paleo, along with a stable and defined fitness routine can help, but is there anything that can be a solid backbone to the condition, to help alleviate it?


on July 28, 2013
at 04:35 PM

I would also advise you not to take advice from people who are just telling you ways to feel less "anxious" or "stressed out." That may help you some in general, but OCD is a specific clinical phenomenon with a specific, highly effective treatment. It's not the same as normal anxiety.



on July 13, 2013
at 05:37 PM

all "paleo" - meant that I was often ridiculously anxious. Much better these days with the exception of PMS, although that has improved considerably as well.



on July 13, 2013
at 05:36 PM

Try eliminating high-histamine foods, especially if you have any allergy-like symptoms. Cheese, vinegar, alcohol (especially beer and wine), tomatoes, nuts, maybe even dairy and eggs generally, anything fermented - yogurt, etc. This has helped me with some anxiety and OCD-esque behaviors. May not be true for everyone but I've determined that underlying allergies were a huge source of anxiety for me because they pump up histamine levels - histamine being an anxiety-inducing neurotransmitter. Meanwhile, many foods contain high levels of histamine to begin with, so the combination - while maybe

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7 Answers


on July 13, 2013
at 01:43 PM

Are you working with a therapist? OCD is one of the most treatable psychologial problems, and before (or at the same time as) you mess around with your diet, you might want to try an approach that's scientifically established to help with a very large number of people.

The standard evidence-based treatment is exposure therapy or exposure with response prevention (ERP). It involves exposing yourself to situations that activate your anxiety and forcing yourself to stay there without reacting. This obviously makes your anxiety worse in the moment, but eventually your stress response will burn itelf out, and this ends up retraining your brain to react to those situations less strongly. (note that it's really important to do this with a competent therapist or at least an established self-help program; doing it without a solid plan can make your problems worse.)

There are literally hundreds of published studies on exposure. Here's one review article that's available for free online, and here's a page on self-help approaches. Doing it with a therapist can be a huge help, though you have to be willing to keep searching until you find a therapist who uses scientifically-based methods rather than one who just wants to talk about your feelings all day.



on July 28, 2013
at 11:58 AM

Paleo plus a gut healing protocol. Good info here: http://syontix.com/anxiety-disorders-its-not-just-all-in-your-head/ He is selling his probiotic, still an excellent blog discussing lots of interesting studies.



on July 13, 2013
at 02:19 PM

N=1 removing stimulants like coffee and refined sugar plus adding in more carbs from fruits/tubers while upping fat has worked wonders. Never overly restrict calories -- just makes you feel stressed out!



on July 13, 2013
at 02:07 PM

To help with your anxiety I'd recommend you at least 'try eating more fruits rich in vitamin C. Maybe up in the area of getting a gram of Vit C per day from papayas and cantaloupes, maybe kiwis as well as possibly oranges.

I'd recommend against fruit juices though, adamantly.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200304/vitamin-c-stress-buster http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/reach-for-vitamin-c-to-reduce-stress-and-belly-fat.html

Just try it for 3 days and see if you notice a difference.


on July 13, 2013
at 01:46 PM

I've had issues with "generalised anxiety disorder, OCD, insomnia and very mild bipolar 2" (Medicalisation FTW....eyeroll)


  • yes, paleo helps, especially if you're really strict with the omega-3s and med-lowish carb (20-30%). Dairy, FODMAPS, nightshades, coconut etc make no difference to my moods

  • don't restrict calories too much. Puts you in a constant state of anxiety.

  • cut coffee, alcohol and chocolate (or any other stimulants)
  • supplement with 5-htp or St Johns Wort, start very low. I take a supplement that's a mix of phenibut, 5-HTP and L-theanine for a few days when I'm not sleeping well. Take care with this kind of supplement - it's totally unregulated but doesn't mean it's not an addictive pharmaceutical. (Like all SSRIs, sleeping pills, anti-depressants - all chemically addictive). I much prefer this supplement to ambien or any other doctor-prescribed drug
  • CBT (e.g. Schema Therapy) and hypnosis - I have found both to be very helpful


on July 13, 2013
at 01:11 PM

First, about medication: are you going from 20 to 40 just to meet some minimum recommended dose? I received benefit from a whopping 5 mg of Prozac (10 is considered the bare minimum for underweight children). But my doctor wanted me at 40 as though to assert my maturity. It's much easier to go up in dose than it is to go down, and when you go up, you still might not even get any benefit. I'm not saying to give up on all psychiatric medication; rather, let your doctor know you do not want to be on medication. Explain your reasons. He or she just might actually listen.

As for specific foods to help, lifestyle revamping would be more beneficial. How is your sleep (quantity and quality)? Stress (the anxiety probably doesn't help much, but do what you can—meditation, yoga, or whatever you find helpful)?

But since you asked about food, I can only tell you to experiment with the addition and removal of certain compounds/foods/food categories. What worked and still works for me: no caffeine, no dairy, and no nightshades or fodmaps. Middle to high carbs, still lots of fat. No coconut and lots of bacon. Lots of fish, too. Settling at about 10 lbs higher than what magazines say I should be and being okay with that.

I'm not saying that anything here is exactly what will work for you. It just so happens to be what worked for me, found through trial and a surfeit of error. I've also never been on Citalopram, but I have been on 8 other psychiatric meds in fewer than that many months. The end result for me just so happened to be a happily ever after (fully functional on no medication), but before you eschew all of modern medicine, first do whatever it takes to function, even if it means medication.



on July 13, 2013
at 05:44 AM

I've heard so much about how keeping the right amount of healthy fats in your diet being important since a lot of the brain is fat and cholesterol. Brain cells have a fatty layer called the myelin sheath, if this layer is thin or damaged it is associated with countless health problems.

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