By KRS Edstrom

Dear KRS,
I think I am suffering from OCD. I have read that
low serotonin levels are related to OCD, and that sunlight (and chocolate?) may be of some help. Also, would it be a good idea for me to take vitamin D?
OCD Sufferer

Dear OCD,
I haven't read any studies proving that sunlight, chocolate or vitamin D affects OCD. We do know however that sunlight can positively affect the brain (and thus the chemicals produced by the brain) as evidenced by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (where some get depressed if not exposed to enough sunlight.)  Along these lines, there are unproven theories that there is a relationship between OCD and low serotonin levels.

If that is true,  it would make sense to get a daily dose of sunlight (vitamin D) since sunlight absorbed through the eyes is said to be a source of serotonin. By the way, if you're getting enough sunlight (20-30 minutes/day) you may not need additional vitamin D, unless you're in your 40-50s and hormones may be affecting bone health, etc.

Consider working on your OCD issue behaviorally with a professional experienced in this area (if you aren't already). OCD builds on itself, so working consciously toward modifying your behavior (the manifestations of your drivenness) can help.

Set small goals to ease off the behavior. For example, if you generally check the door to see if it's locked "6" times before leaving the house, resolve to check it only 5 times the first week, then 4 times, 3 times. . . and so forth.

I use meditation techniques that help dissolve compulsive urges. For example, if you learn to go inside to the place where the drivenness begins and "relax into" the physical sensations of drivenness before acting on them, you can eventually desensitize your internal reactions and resulting external actions - from the inside out. Feel free to listen to my audios for free on my site - I'd be interested to hear your results. KRS

Dear KRS,
I was wondering if you could help me cope with an emotional issue. I am a freshman in high school and when I get angry, I almost always cry. Sometimes I'll get mad at myself on the basketball court and start to get teary eyed. Whenever this occurs I try to think about something happy, but sometimes I just can't hold back my frustration and I cry. Any tips or advice on my problem would be appreciated.
Cry When Angry Student

Dear Angry Student,
Congratulations for having the desire and courage to resolve this issue rather than pushing it away. Every obstacle presents itself to us as an opportunity for inner growth. In facing this you may be digging deeper than others in your class who appear on the surface to be gliding through effortlessly. Here are a few suggestions to help you make use of this wonderful challenge.

First, recognize the expression of emotions (such as crying) is a normal human experience. Too many people stifle their emotions because they don't want to appear foolish or be different than what they've observed from their parents or in society. In fact, you may be so busy trying to hold back the emotion that it never gets "completed" so it keeps trying to get out in bits and pieces.

When emotions are unexpressed or "pent up," they can often come out "sideways" in inappropriate circumstances. Practice these exercises daily and you will become "friends" with anger and it will no longer frighten you or take you by surprise.

1) Anger-releasing exercises. Take a tennis racket or something similar and hit your bed or a cushion. You can also use your fist or an actual sponge-type bat sold for this purpose. Forget about feeling silly and hit as hard as you can.

Scream, yell or let any words come out as they will. Don't worry about forming sentences or being proper. Let it come. Continue until you are exhausted, then rest for a one minute, staying focused. Then repeat the exercise until exhausted again. Repeat one more time (3 times total). Tears may come - let them. If you want to repeat this more than three times, feel free. You are unleashing all those trapped feelings.

2) Meditation Techniques. One technique I use is to name the area of your body where you can feel the  anger in your body. You can practice this by sitting quietly with your eyes closed and relaxing for a moment. Then imagine playing basketball and getting upset. Really get into it (try it right now). Then, ask yourself where you are feeling that anger in your body or ask "Where in my body does it feel like I want to cry?"  It may be a small area or your whole body - it doesn't matter where it shows up.

The point is to relax into those uncomfortable sensations and feel them completely. BE with the sensation. What does it feel like? Can you just allow it to be there as you breathe and relax into it? You'll notice that it gradually gets less intense or even goes away completely. Keep working on this. It's very powerful, exciting work that will help you with more than your anger. KRS

KRS Edstrom, M.S., is an author, lecturer and columnist. She offers private sessions (by phone or in person) and seminars on meditation, stress, pain, weight loss. For free soothing guided meditations and more information, visit Call (323) 851-8623 or email:

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