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Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your Patients Who Suffer From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your Patients Who Suffer From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Picture your mind filled with persistent, unsettling thoughts that won't go away, thoughts that push you into a loop of repetitive behaviors—like washing your hands over and over or double-checking the door lock multiple times. These are not just simple quirks or habits; they're necessities to help alleviate the extreme mental discomfort you're experiencing. Living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) isn't just about dealing with these repetitive behaviors; it also takes a significant toll on your daily life. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, OCD ranks among the top ten most disabling conditions, affecting both income and quality of life.

In this article, we'll explore key aspects of OCD, aiming to equip both providers and patients with valuable information. Specifically, we will discuss the underlying causes of OCD, the symptoms that characterize this disorder, and the benefits of regular lab testing for patients with OCD. Most importantly, we will guide you through the top labs to run bi-annually to aid in the effective management of this condition. 


What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health condition marked by distressing, intrusive thoughts and the performance of ritualistic behaviors aimed at alleviating the anxiety these thoughts produce. Patients often experience significant disruptions in daily life, impacting both personal and professional relationships. OCD manifests in a variety of ways, with common obsessions including fears of contamination or causing harm and the need for things to be "just right." These obsessions often prompt compensatory behaviors, like cleaning, checking, or arranging items, in an attempt to relieve the stress or prevent a feared event or situation (1).

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) categorizes OCD under its own umbrella of obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, which also includes conditions like body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, and trichotillomania. This categorization reflects our evolving understanding of OCD, moving away from viewing it merely as an anxiety disorder. Advances in neuroscience have shown that specific brain regions implicated in OCD differ from those typically associated with anxiety and fear, providing further evidence that OCD is distinct from anxiety disorders. This has implications for treatment approaches, as it suggests that interventions effective for anxiety disorders may not be directly applicable to managing OCD (1,2).

What Causes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?  

The causes of OCD are multi-faceted and not fully understood, but there are several contributing elements. One key factor is family history; you're more likely to develop OCD if a family member has it, which indicates a possible genetic component. Also, brain imaging studies have suggested that certain regions of the brain, such as the orbitofrontal cortex and thalamus, are implicated in OCD, affecting how the brain regulates thoughts and behaviors (1,2).

Apart from genetic and neurological factors, life experiences can also be a trigger. For example, stressful or traumatic events like childhood abuse or significant loss can serve as a catalyst for OCD symptoms (1,2). 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Symptoms

Symptoms of OCD may include (1,2):

Obsessive Thoughts:

  • Persistent, anxiety-inducing ideas or images
  • Worries about germs or contamination
  • Hostile or taboo thoughts about sex, religion, or causing harm
  • A desire for orderliness and precision

Compulsive Behaviors:

  • Repetitive actions aimed at reducing distress
  • Over-cleaning and excessive hand washing
  • Organizing objects in specific patterns
  • Continual checking, such as making sure doors are locked
  • Habitual counting

Impacts On Daily Life:

  • Difficulty controlling these thoughts or actions
  • Spending an hour or more daily on these symptoms
  • Lack of enjoyment but may feel temporary relief from associated anxiety
  • Significant challenges in work, education, and relationships

Additional Symptoms:

Some individuals may also have motor tics, like facial grimacing or shoulder shrugging.

What Are The Benefits of Regular Lab Testing For Patients With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Regular lab tests can give doctors and patients a clearer picture of what's happening in the body when dealing with OCD. For example, lab tests can show whether levels of certain brain chemicals like serotonin or dopamine are out of balance, which can be important for deciding on the best treatment. These tests can also flag other health issues that might be making OCD symptoms worse, like problems with the thyroid or low levels of certain vitamins (1,2). 

Having this information helps doctors tailor treatments more closely to each person's specific needs. It also allows both doctors and patients to track how well a treatment is working over time. By watching how these levels change, it's easier to make adjustments to treatments, such as changing medications, which can lead to better management of symptoms (1,2). 

Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Patients With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Functional medicine labs offer a variety of tests that can help tailor treatment to patients, allowing providers to optimize management strategies.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP)

While a CBC and BMP are general tests, they can provide a baseline understanding of a patient's overall health. Factors such as electrolyte levels, kidney function, and potential anemia can indirectly affect mental health and the efficacy of medications used in treating OCD.

Neurotransmitter Testing

Since neurotransmitter imbalances are often implicated in OCD, checking levels of serotonin and dopamine could guide treatment decisions. Antidepressants like SSRIs, often used in OCD treatment, aim to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Knowing the baseline and any fluctuations can be informative (1,2). 

Stress Testing

As stress can exacerbate OCD symptoms, monitoring cortisol levels can be insightful. Abnormal cortisol rhythms or consistently high levels might suggest that stress is a significant factor in a patient's OCD symptoms, thus guiding further treatment strategies (1,2). 

Micronutrient Testing 

Nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids play a fundamental role in brain health and function. Deficiencies in certain nutrients such as vitamin D, B vitamins, or omega-3 fatty acids could potentially aggravate OCD symptoms. This test can help identify these gaps, allowing for nutritional supplementation or dietary changes aimed at supporting mental health and the efficacy of OCD treatments (1,2). 



In summary, OCD is a complex mental health condition that profoundly affects daily life and well-being. Its multi-faceted origins, which include genetics, brain activity, and life experiences, underscore the need for an individualized approach to treatment. Bi-annual lab tests, encompassing complete blood count, neurotransmitter levels, and micronutrient assessments, provide critical data for customized treatment plans. Through these thorough evaluations, healthcare providers can adapt therapies, assess the efficacy of ongoing treatments, and enhance the quality of life for patients with OCD.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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Lab Tests in This Article

  1. An Integrative Approach to Mental Health. (2023, January 31). Rupa Health.
  2. Brock, H., & Hany, M. (2020). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). PubMed; StatPearls Publishing.
  3. Complementary and Integrative Medicine Approach to OCD: Testing, Therapies, and Supplements. (2023, May 18). Rupa Health.
  4. Integrative Medicine Approaches to Managing Anxiety and Depression Naturally. (2023, April 10). Rupa Health.
  5. Webb, W. L., & Gehi, M. (1981). Electrolyte and fluid imbalance: Neuropsychiatric manifestations. Psychosomatics, 22(3), 199–203.
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