Enter your email address to receive updates by email:

subscribe in a reader like my facebook page follow me on twitter Image Map
Podcast Message Line: 512-222-3389
Logos Catholic Bible Software

« Let This Cup Pass? | Main | Ad Simplicium Circa Scripturas »

April 27, 2005



A low-carb diet can lower the serotonins that can trigger OCD.


Great jumping gravy on a stick, Jimmy, that was magnificent! I can't imagine a better, clearer, more charitable response. Think how many people will be helped by reading that and think how many more would be helped if only they could read that.

Oh, and Barbara: well said, I'm off to the cookie jar for some preventive maintenance!


Ten Commandments for the Scrupolous...



The part about not being alone is worthy of repeating. I freely admit I suffer from it, and suffer is in its truest form.

I really hope I'm not breaking Da' Rulz here, but it's also worthy advice for OCD sufferers to stay away from caffeine and alcohol, as the obssessions and compulsions lead to anxiety, and the anxiety often leads to depression. Since stiumlants and depressants can lead to either or both of these effects, it's best to stay away from them.

It's also worthy to reiterate to find someone you can trust and lay it all out on the table. It's amazing how much better you'll feel if you can admit to some of the thoughts.

Finally, treat it as an illness and ask for the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus to heal you of it. I know firsthand how paralyzing even prayer can be. It's easy to avoid because you're afraid bad thoughts will occur when you're trying to talk to God. You get anxiety about the anxiety so to speak. But He understands and wants to help.

Again, if I broke the Da' Rulz, I apologize, but I can certainly empathize with this individual. It's downright traumatic at times, and you're a hostage to your own mind.


And print out the Ten Commandmants for the Scrupulous Javier provides and keep them. It's a tremendously helpful resource.

Jimmy Akin

Barb: I appreciate the input, but I think I'm gonig to have to challenge you on this. Do you have any studies that show low-carbing depresses serotonin levels?

My impression (and I know a *lot* about low-carb dieting) is that such diets would be a great *help* to people with OCD as they eliminate the massive swings up and down in blood sugar caused by carbohydrate consumption. They make your energy level more regular and thus should have a calming effect on OCD.

It is true that eating carbs will increase serotonin levels (so will getting exercise), but that doesn't mean that not eating carbs puts one into a serotonin deficiency. At best, a high-sugar snack is going to give you a temporary serotonin boost, but the long term effects of eating sugary/starchy snacks to help with OCD will be far worse for you than any help they may offer.

As soon as the sugar buzz wears off, your energy level will plummet and you'll feel bad, making you vulnerable to the OCD, and over time the weight gain, increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and fluctuations with your energy level will make you feel cruddy and unhappy and foster the OCD.

A far better solution would be to do a few minutes exercise and pump up your serotonin that way.


Response to Jimmy:

Health Services at Columbia web site:


I didn't mean to imply that exercise wasn't a good idea, just that the low-carb craze could cause your body to be thrown off balance. The key is to eat a balanced diet, without too much refined sugars.

Dev Thakur

My prayers are with you, young Christian.

Dev Thakur

Another comment: neurotransmitters often have antagonist effects, keeping certain circuits in balance. Another key effect in OCD, perhaps more important then serotonin, is the up-regulation of dopamine in what is called the nigrostriate path. Different paths also involving dopamine are implicated in addiction.

Dev Thakur

Here's a good page on dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine changed in OCD.

Matt C. Abbott

Thanks, Jimmy. I, too, suffer from OCD. And it ain't fun!


ALL Catholics (yea, all Christians) who suffer from mental illnesses of any kind need both a good doctor and a good and holy priest. I know you said this, Jimmy; I just wanted to underscore it.

I have found it very helpful to pray for discernment and to discuss any strange and sudden impulses that may arise.

Wish I had the nerve to sign my name, but it's still hard to feel safe in the world or the Church as a "crazy person."

Thanks for your kind and compassionate words, Jimmy.

St. Bernard Labre, pray for us.


Well said, Jimmy! There is also an archived episode of "Catholic Answers Live" dealing with scrupulosity, with Fr. Thomas Santa from Scrupulous Anonymous. A search on Catholic.com for "scrupulosity" should bring it up.

Eileen R

ALL Catholics (yea, all Christians) who suffer from mental illnesses of any kind need both a good doctor and a good and holy priest. I know you said this, Jimmy; I just wanted to underscore it.

This is very true. I spent the last few years suffering horribly from clinical depression and a general anxiety disorder. There are a lot of good doctors and good priests in my life, but I'm particularly grateful for my confessor, a good priest and a good doctor. He didn't treat me, of course, but his medical experience made him wonderful to aid me.


praying for this person and for all who suffer in this way...or in any other way,actually.

God Bless.


Thanks for thatpost! my 11 yr old daughter suffers from this but doesn't accept my explanation that it is not her fault. I'm so glad to have some direction for her. I'm going to start with vitamin therapy (it helped me with post-partem depression) before I take her in as she considers Dr's appts a form of child abuse.


I have one word for your correspondent: LUVOX.

I have had OCD--at least in mild form--most of my life. About 15 years ago, it became exponentially worse. (Around the same time, I developed Graves' Disease--overactive thyroid--and I suspect that this condition, which puts one's whole body into overdrive, had something to do with the sudden worsening of the OCD.)

I was tormented continually by ego-dystonic, unwanted, obtrusive thoughts--and tormented further by fearing that I'd somehow accepted or encouraged them. It was a living hell. I saw a Christian therapist, who helped me see that the thoughts were ego-dystonic and that there was no culpability involved. But the torment didn't abate. Finally, the therapist referred me to a psychiatrist, who prescribed an SSRI--Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. First I took Anafranil, which worked great but had severe side effects. Then, once it became available in the U.S., I started taking Luvox, which also works great but has far fewer side effects.

The results were like the proverbial night and day. Luvox saved my life--or at least my sanity. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Please ask a reputable psychiatrist about Luvox! (No, I don't get a commission.)

God bless and many prayers...


P.S. I'm no doctor, but I agree with others here--your symptoms are [i]classic[/i] OCD.


I just have to say something that has helped me with being afraid God is going to spite me.
When i think bad thoughts i just think to myself, god cant be fooled by ocd! hE KNOWS IM NOT TRYING TO BE MEAN OR UN RELIGIOUS!! I think u just have to realize that. God is not easily fooled.

Bob Waters

Seratonin doesn't trigger OCD; it's a lack of them that's the problem. SSRI's help because the prevent the reabsorption of seratonin by the brain.

Everyone- especially Christians of any denomination (we have Catholics as well as Protestants and Lutherans- and no, not all of us Lutherans consider ourselves Protestants- in our group) are invited to join The Scrupe Group at http://tinyurl.com/ag6ch . We're a mutual support group for scrupulosity, made of of Christian OCD sufferers and their families.

Mark Southard

Help. My son and his wife just had their first baby and very soon thereafter she began acting extremely possessive, going so far as to get angry at my wife for carrying the baby into the kitchen and "...out of my sight." Since then, things have fallen apart. She got mad at me over a silly joke, for which I immediately apologized, then she proceeded to lecture me in a nasty tone of voice. In rapid succession and despite the fact that my wife and I and our two boys have always had a loving family, Pam and I and my oldest son, Josh, have now been totally disowned from "their family" for "not following the rules." and other ridicuous minutue. Timmy will not even talk to us or answer calls or e-mails. Pam is taking medicine for depression and anxiety for the first time in her life and it truly sounds like we've actually lost our son and our grandbaby (our very first one) despite two years of helping both of them with college, giving - not loaning, but giving - them tons of money, helping them in every way possible. She acts like some girl I've never known in all my life and Timmy is getting the same way, only I truly believe he's under tremendous pressure from her and doesn't know what to do, but will not seek us out for help for whatever reason. Is there anything you can help me to understand here? We're truly wonderful and loving parents. Tim's the second of our only two boys. Losing him is like losing our heart. I don't know what the URL means up above, so I'm sorry I didn't fill it out. Please help. Mark


I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this post. I was recently diagnosed with OCD and this article was very helpful.

I believe a lot of good devout people suffer this in silence and fear without even knowing it has a name. (I know I did!) In my own search for info I realized it was really hard to find info about it in a Catholic context. So thank you. I will be linking it in my blog. Thanks.


Does Mr. Southard still need help? I offer my prayers.

The comments to this entry are closed.

January 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31