Andrew Huberman OCD: Treatment & Recommendations

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According to Professor Andrew Huberman, OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a surprisingly common yet often misunderstood condition characterized by intrusive, anxiety-inducing thoughts and repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.

OCD, which affects 2.5-4% of people, can be extremely disruptive and ranks among the top 10 most disabling illnesses.

In this post, we will dive deep into Andrew Huberman’s insights into OCD, explore various treatment options based on the latest research, and provide actionable advice for managing this condition.

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Andrew Huberman OCD Cause

Andrew Huberman OCD Cause

According to Huberman, OCD is fundamentally caused by miswiring in the basal ganglia structures of the brain, which handle behavioral activation and inhibition signaling.

This leads to a disconnect where compulsive actions paradoxically strengthen rather than alleviate obsessive anxiety triggers.

OCD involves dysfunction in the cortico-striatal-thalamic loop – an interconnected brain circuit tying the cortex, striatum, and thalamus together.

The thalamus acts as a sensory gatekeeper, determining what information reaches conscious awareness. Faulty thalamic signaling fails to suppress repetitive obsession and compulsion patterns.

Andrew Huberman OCD Symptoms

Andrew Huberman OCD Symptoms

The core of OCD lies in the dysfunctional interplay between obsessions and compulsions, according to Dr. Andrew Huberman.

Grasping this interaction is critical for effective management.

Obsessions: Ego-Dystonic Intrusive Thoughts

Obsessions are persistent, distressing thoughts or urges that repeatedly hijack attention against one’s wishes. They often focus on themes like contamination, mistakes, accidents, forbidden thoughts, symmetry, order, and more.

Unlike everyday thoughts, obsessions are ego-dystonic – they feel alien, unacceptable, and inconsistent with one’s self-image. People with OCD recognize obsessions as irrational but struggle to dismiss them.

Attempts to ignore or suppress obsessions often backfire. They become stronger and more intrusive instead.

Compulsions: Repeated Rituals That Worsen Obsessions

In response to disturbing obsessions, people with OCD instinctively perform compulsive physical or mental rituals. Compulsions serve to alleviate anxiety and distress triggered by obsessions, at least temporarily.

Common compulsions involve repetitive washing for contamination fears, checking behaviors for mistakes, counting and repetition rituals for bad thoughts, and arranging/ordering rituals for symmetry obsessions.

However, compulsions only provide short-term relief. They make underlying obsessions stronger in the long run, fueling a self-perpetuating cycle.

This is why the combination is so insidious – relief comes at the cost of worse future symptoms.

Andrew Huberman OCD Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Exposure therapy gradually and systematically confronts patients with anxiety-provoking obsessions via simulation. This exposes them to feared thoughts, images, objects, and situations in a controlled manner.

Starting small, the difficulty is increased over multiple sessions to continually elevate anxiety. Simultaneously, the therapist works to prevent associated compulsive rituals.

By remaining exposed without compulsively neutralizing, patients learn that while obsessional thoughts are disturbing, they can be endured without enacting them. Approaching fears rather than avoiding them builds tolerance.

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Focus Shifts From Relieving to Accepting Anxiety

Importantly, CBT aims to shift perspective rather than merely relieve anxiety. The goal becomes accepting anxiety as inevitable but transient rather than struggling to eliminate it.

Allowing anxiety to rise and subside teaches patients that compulsions only provide partial, temporary relief with damaging long-term consequences. Breaking the connection between obsession and compulsion is pivotal.

With enough practice enduring escalated exposures, feared thoughts lose their power, and obsessions diminish in intensity over time. However, consistency is vital as obsessive urges may resurge during periods of stress.

Andrew Huberman OCD Supplement Recommendations

Alongside psychotherapy, certain supplements hold promise for alleviating OCD symptoms, according to Dr. Andrew Huberman.

Inositol for Rapid Anxiety and OCD Improvement

The compound inositol has been studied as a potential treatment for OCD. In the brain, inositol helps regulate serotonin and other neurotransmitters involved in obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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In trials utilizing massive doses of around 18 grams per day, inositol has rapidly reduced anxiety and OCD symptoms within as little as two weeks. Even at more moderate daily doses of 900mg, inositol may confer anxiety-lowering effects.

Related: Andrew Huberman Inositol Recommendation & Science

Glycine – An Inhibitory Neurotransmitter

Glycine acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, counterbalancing glutamate excitation. There is some evidence that very high glycine intake around 60 grams per day can partially alleviate obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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However, extremely high doses of glycine carry risks and side effects.

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About the Author

Drew Wilkins is a fitness and nutrition expert with a Master's in Biokinesiology (emphasis in Sports Science) from the University of Southern California and over a decade of experience as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and wellness coach. An avid surfer and soccer player, he brings a unique perspective to his research, advocating for a balanced approach to health that includes physical fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.

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