Monday, July 24, 2017
A new app to help treat OCD!
When I first started this blog in 2013, OCD was starting to become a huge presence in my life. I was at that time seeing a therapist who did "talk therapy" with me, and honestly seemed more intrigued by my symptoms rather than trying to help me navigate through them. I never once heard the terms Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) from him. Needless to say I spent quite a bit of money there and didn't get any better while I was seeing him. I was frustrated with the system, and the lack of knowledge even from psychologists who claimed they could help treat my OCD. So I ditched the therapist, and I decided to educate myself as much as possible about OCD. I read countless books on OCD, developed this blog to begin connecting with others with the disorder, and began to formulate my own ERP program.
I believe that unfortunately many other OCD sufferers meet the same barriers that I did, when looking for treatment. The cost itself is very prohibitive. Many people have high deductible health insurance, and in that mental health coverage is completely separate from medical coverage. That's the way it is for me too. Also finding a good quality OCD therapist proves more difficult than one might think. You can click the link here on the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) website, to enter your zip code and find a list of providers trained in treating OCD. I tried this one time and found one single provider in my entire city who "specialized" in OCD. I called her and left a message on her voice mail (private practice) and never even received a return phone call. While I'm certain that there are great mental health care providers out there, I just know that a lot of them really don't even understand OCD fully. Even my own primary care physician is very misunderstood about OCD, as I've come out with more bits and pieces to my personal struggle through the years with her, and it is obvious by comments that she makes that she is very uneducated about the disorder. Many people are simply embarrassed and ashamed by their symptoms, as there is a horrible stigma associated with mental disease in general. Many sufferers hide their illness because of this. Yet sadly it is estimated that 1 in 40 people struggle with OCD. And that it takes 14-17 years....yes you read that right, on average for them to find help. That is truly mind blowing. I will be 40 years old in a few weeks, which means I've spent almost one-third of my life thus far dealing with OCD. I'm learning to manage the disorder, but it still has a lot of control over my life. A lot. And I'm guessing for a lot of you, this is also the case. It wasn't until I started doing self guided ERP therapy that I truly started making some progress with this disorder. There is good news though! We can begin to claim our lives back from this disorder. Even if we are not in a position to get professional help (or simply don't have the access to it), we have the power to start treating this beast on our own. ERP therapy does work! If you're not familiar with what ERP is, you can read about it here. ERP has proven to be highly successful in treating OCD, and most patients who go through ERP therapy will have a significant reduction in their symptoms.
A week ago I was contacted by an organization that has developed a new app called nOCD. Stephen Smith is the founder of this app and you can read more about his personal story with OCD here. They wanted to find a way to help bring good quality help to people, with this proven method of treatment. The developers have requested collaboration from writers and bloggers in helping to get out the word about this app. I've already downloaded it, and plan to incorporate it into my own self guided treatment. This app is fully customizable, and basically helps you to set up your very own unique ERP program based on YOUR specific obsessions, compulsions, and triggers. Because even though we all fall under the same umbrella diagnosis of OCD, the truth is that many of our symptoms differ from each other. So the only way to treat each particular case is to design a unique program for each individual. All based on the same concepts, but tweaked for each patient. You can download this app, for absolutely free RIGHT HERE!!!! Currently it is available for iOS devices, but I am told they are working an app for android devices as well which will be available this fall. But if you are on a desktop or Android device, you should be able to still click the link and it will take you to a different screen where you enter your phone # and a download will be sent to you. Just enter in your triggers, obsessions and compulsions, and it designs it for you. The more specific you can get, the better. I've found personally, rather than enter in each item all at once, it was easier for me to get on the app each time I was "triggered" as I would come up that way with many patterns of my triggers that I didn't think about initially when making a list. Again the more detailed you are, the more you will get out of this! It provides real time tracking of several factors: time spent doing ERP exercises/exposures, anxiety levels during exercises and during general use of the app, location/time of day of OCD episodes, and many more things! All or your personal information will also be stored on a HIPPA compliant secure server. You have the ability to track your progress and see that you are improving! It can be used solely on your own, or in conjunction with therapy that you are already receiving. The data can also be directly exported to your health provider. There is also an added SOS help feature which offers you help in those high anxiety moments when OCD suddenly strikes.
181 million people world-wide suffer from this disorder. We are not alone by any means. But I know that it feels like we are. We do have the power to do something about it. Please, please download this app today if you are able. It will definitely be one more stepping stone to help in your fight against this disorder. You have nothing to lose by fighting back against your OCD. In fact, you have quite the opposite--very much to gain! If you try out this app, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Please, give it a try!!